What is art? That is the great debate. I’m not sure if it’s definable,
at least not with the words we have in our grasp.
I feel that it is intentional, a manifestation of creativity that
someone chooses to share with the world. Even if that world is just
one other person. While looking that person can see with their eyes
and their heart to ponder, wonder, assess, define, dissect, and
feel–with time enough to make it a meaningful experience.
Museums allow you the chance to see what has been deemed display
worthy. I love museums for that chance to walk, look, take in and
commune with someone’s creation, most often from someone who lived
long ago. I marvel at the very idea that something that was painted
decades or even centuries ago is now right in front of my very eyes.
When I saw my first Jackson Pollock I was amazed at all of the “stuff”
that he incorporated into his work. I couldn’t stop thinking about
that piece. Standing in front of the works of Manet, Magritte and
Michelangelo; O’Keefe, Warhol and Cassatt; Evans, Stieglitz and
Atget—they enthrall, enchant and challenge me. Every time.
But not all art hangs in a place of worship, yet we can still seek out
and honor it wherever it may be found. Art is like oxygen, it’s
everywhere, like a perfectly ripe peach just waiting for the hand to
pluck it from the tree. Waiting for the hand of the artist to pick up
the brush, markers, charcoal, gluestick and breathe life into a
masterpiece where once was nothing. But it is not enough to create it,
the artist must be brave enough to share. To put it on display. To
invite equally praise and criticism. Though the medium differs, in
this way artists and writers are similar. ‘When a writer writes it’s
as if she holds both sides of her chest apart, exposing her beating
heart. And even though everything wants to heal, to close over to
protect the heart, the writer must keep it bare, exposed. And in doing
this, all of life is kept back, all the petty demands of the day to
day. The heart is a river. The act of writing is the moving water that
holds the banks apart, keeps the muscle of words flexing so that the
reader can be carried along by this movement. To be given space and
the chance to leave one’s earthly world. Is there any greater freedom
than this?’* Be it on a wall, or painted on the side of a building,
it’s all in how we interpret it.
This piece hangs in my own home. It is one of a set of three seascapes
that was given to me as a graduation present. They hang in different
parts of the house so that visiting the ocean is possible almost
anywhere I look. Often my eyes rest where the water meets the land. I
take in the brushstrokes, I think about the canvas slowly being
filled, the way the artist was able to capture and portray such fluid
movement. Such a gift.
*from Helen Humprey’s “The Lost Garden”