I don’t just love to make art – I love to look at it too. Whenever I am at an art museum or gallery, I feel a knot in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. It’s like meeting your lover for the first time, that moment when you lock eyes and something tells you this is it. This is special. That excited, fluttering, inspiring, bright, colorful moment when nothing can go wrong, all is right in the world. Everything tastes better, everything’s brighter. There is so much possibility, the space around you feels full of it.
While I enjoy browsing art online, there is nothing quite like standing in front of it and meeting it. You come face to face with it, sometimes you can smell it. As you run your eyes over the textures and the color, the way the light falls on this brush stroke or that stitch, you can almost feel it. Which allows you in a way to touch the art even when the sign says “Do Not Touch.” You’re not just viewing the artwork, you are entering a relationship.
During one of my visits to the Salvador Dali Museum, I became so engrossed in “touching” the art with my eyes that the guard scolded me for getting too close. It’s hard not to get too close in the Dali Museum. You want to inspect the paint, feel the brush strokes, see the moment where one color blends into another. As if that would give you more insight into genius. If you could find the moment that dust grey drifted to creme brulee, you may be able to capture a blink of genius. And you did, really, but it’s so fleeting that you have to take a step back and then you’re consumed by the magnitude of it and you stagger to the next one, dizzied and drunk from the sheer intimacy of it all. This is why a membership is important. You have to go back again and again to make sure you take it all in – it’s too overwhelming to do it all at one time. The benches help, but you really need to rest your eyes and brain in between. Plus the installation exhibits are the best I’ve ever seen. My favorite was Disney. So much I didn’t know, I now see Walt in a whole new light.
At the Art Institute of Chicago, I approached Picasso’s “The Old Guitar” so deftly, so carefully, I was a cat. I stood there in front of him and wept, he was so beautiful. I couldn’t help myself. Even now I’m welling up with tears at the thought of meeting such beauty in person. It was as close to holy as I personally have ever come.
To commemorate the moment, I bought a magnet in the gift shop. “The Old Guitar” now sticks to my refrigerator as a constant reminder of the day I wept in the presence of its beauty.
It seems so pathetic, this consumer-driven gesture to commemorate something so magnificent with something so commonplace and useless as a magnet; I comforted myself in knowing that it’s one of the few things I bought when I was in Chicago and therefore I could justify seeing “The Old Guitar” on my fridge every day. And you know what, it’s right where it belongs.