I know it doesn’t seem “right” but, if I’m totally honest (and I think you know I usually am) I don’t understand or really like probably 95% of the visual art I’ve seen. I’ve been lucky enough to see some world-class art and on the whole…as much as I’d love to say it moves me, it does not. That sounds awful, but here’s the thing; when I DO find a piece I like, it grabs me on dramatically visceral, complex and intense level. So, while the day-to-day art rarely sways me, when a piece decides to have meaning for me, it does so by pulling me close, looking deep into my being, and knocking the breath right out of me. There’s nothing passive about my relationship with visual art, it is wickedly impulsive, indulgent and supernaturally unsettling when it demands to be noticed. While a greater quantity of dance, music, film, literature or theater pieces can lay claim to a spot in my cerebral catalog of “personally impactful art” the pieces of visual art that make the list do so at an entirely different level of stimulation, domination and inspiration.
Ever slow, ever the late bloomer, it was 20 years before my heart was finally first captured by a piece of visual art and not at all what one might expect in the creation of such an ineffaceable memory. Not the Sistine Chapel or the David, not a Rodin or anything remotely “grand” or even revered by a substantial populous. I was wandering through the empty galleries of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. Just 5 days in to my 2 week solo journey to Italy, it was my first trip abroad and I was humming with adventure and an abundance of previously untapped emotions. As I rounded a corner I saw a modest sized painting of the lovers Paolo and Francesca and it physically commanded me to stop. The scene, in which he was leaned in to kiss her, a mix of desperate adulation, deepest adoration and insatiable lustful, passion, absolutely mesmerized me. In that moment, the paint told a story of a thousand emotions and each layer, each stroke seemed to sing to only me. I don’t know how long I stood there, only that the painting must have eventually released me. I am certain I would not have been able to tear myself away without explicit instructions to do so. You must see this painting is what I hear you say!? Oh, I’ve searched all over, even the online galleries of the Museum and while many paintings of the duo exist, I have been unable to identify what I saw. And, who’s to say it would even have the same power today? We always remember our first as being particularly special in that moment, no? Who’s to say it would stand up to the test of time.
It’s true, while travelling I seem to be more open to such experiences. Now, there’s a ridiculously romantic notion which simultaneously melts and nauseates me. Still. While travelling in Arequipa, Peru a few years later, I came across an abstract painting amongst several very realistic still-life’s on the walls of, of all places, an Italian Restaurant. This one very different painting (and not even very “attractive” in the traditional sense) was quite loudly haunting me as I ate my dinner. I tuned completely out of the conversation at the table and was magically taken to other worlds inside the muddy swirls and textures of this inexplicably impossible gateway through time and space. Entirely lost in the painting, I was eventually approached by our tour guide. As it turned out, the artist, who was not local and only stops in every couple of months to check and see if anything has sold, happened to have just walked in. When they told me he was here and asked if I was interested in purchasing the painting, I was barely able to utter an immediate yes, before I burst into tears. And, then the artist burst into tears. It was the only abstract painting he had ever done and his entire life philosophy was poetically represented in it using an alphabet he’d created based on ancient Incan symbol. We stood there a while equally shocked and comforted that art chose that day to speak a universal language, that there was no translation required. He sat looking at me, overwhelmed that his muse had seemingly whispered his deepest secrets directly to me; I sat, my soul forever altered at the discovery of raw truths, hidden on a canvas, buried in a tiny corner of the world. As the realization I was now a guardian sunk in, we completed the financial transaction ($50 American) in what seemed like an almost unfeeling and insulting gesture. He would not take more and he himself even gave the waiter 5 Nuevo Sol (the so poetically named Peruvian currency meaning “New Sun”) to cut the painting out of the frame. I carried it with me for the remaining two weeks, unable to trust that I would be reunited with it if I dared part from it for a moment. The muddy window back to Peru hangs in my apartment still.
So… why share these stories with you? In my observation, it’s becoming easier and easier to go through life overly critical, cynical, jaded, disconnected, negative and unfeeling. Emotion is being alienated, even rejected and in many ways demonized as an undesirable weakness. Art (all forms of it) can, I feel, be an antidote for this unnerving trend. If nothing else, art helps to remind you that your heart beats and that is a gift. In my experience you can never have too much exposure to any art, so whether you’re moved by visual art daily or like me, you tend to have to work harder to be more open to its format, the more you see, the more likely you are to eventually FEEL. Which is where Silicon Valley Contemporary comes in. In just two weeks this is what you have to look forward to (and if you act fast, for FREE, by using the links at the bottom of this post):
“On April 10-13, 2014 the first ever contemporary art fair arrives in Silicon Valley and it represents a unique opportunity for locals to view, discover and acquire the finest contemporary art on the market today.
This landmark fair will present the finest in video art and digital installations from around the world. Many of the world’s most respected and renowned video artists will be on display with their works for acquisition. SVC intelligently explores the dynamic and alluring intersection between art and technology like no other art fair in America.
SVC brings the magic and excitement of the NYC and Miami art fair scene and selection to Silicon Valley. Like any other major international fine art fair, we present the finest in all media: paintings, works on paper, photography, prints, and sculpture. Artworks on display will be from the 1970’s to the present day.
SVC will present approx. $100 million in the finest contemporary art for acquisition, representing the very best work by 300 respected artists, showcased by 50 prominent galleries from 10 countries. There are valuable must have treasures for every budget level, ranging from a few thousand dollars into the hundreds of thousands for gold chip masterworks by the legends. It is by far, the most significant and expansive selection of important art work for acquisition ever assembled in the region.
In addition to the impressive art on display, the fair offers a robust and intensive speaker program, designed to educate and inspire. We invite you to witness the region’s first ever fine art fair, meet many of the art world elite, enjoy lunch and drinks while meandering down the aisles in your search for finding the perfect piece for your wall. Discover the joys, satisfaction and benefits of starting and growing an art collection and there is no better time to invest in art.”
An exciting opportunity to see, learn about, talk about, experience, participate in, create and even purchase a variety of art! THIS, this is really what’s at the core of my personal mission with Artsalot. Ways to connect and enhance people, art, artists, new experiences, technology, perspective and just provide chances to LIVE fully and FEEL something. So, come on out for a day or all 4 and have yourself some LIFE.