la vida

Almost my entire mission I had a Picasso painting from the blue period hung up above my desk. It was a page from a calendar. I had once told mario how much Picasso's blue period really moved me and one day in a manila envelope the small square painting arrived with a folded crease down the middle, he had cut it from the October 1998 page. I don't know that some of my companions quite understood or approved of Picasso's acrobatic clowns peering down a little sadly at us next to our calendar of baptisms and picture of the temple, but there is something so real and human and just beautiful about those people. Spiritually doesn't have to be limited to church. The painting has continued to follow me and I put it up above every desk i come to live by.

Yesterday i went to the U of U's new exhibition, 'the impressionists to surrealism', it was so exhilarating to see the work of artists who were very much revolutionists and activists for change in their own right. I saw the above Picasso piece, so beautiful. I've cried a few times in museums, usually trying to play it off casually as an itch in my eye. Once when I saw a Giacommeti, once when i saw another Picasso in the Met, once at a Bill Viola exhibition in the Guggenheim, the Andy Goldsworthy on the roof of the Jewish History Museum, at Zack Taylor's Mormon ex-convicts show, so many times at Gallery 110 when I saw people coming together, and yesterday can now be added to the list. Although yesterday i got a little teary-eyed for two reasons...perhaps three. Picasso painted La Vida after a dear friend committed suicide because of the rejection of his lover, it is thought to symbolize the different stages of life, or two types of love (mother and child, lovers). (The actual painting is much richer in color and not so blue, it is also about 10 ft. tall and there is a little bit cropped from the image i put here). Maybe I cried (just a tiny bit) because of the circumstance of the painting, but also because the paint and the drawing was so beautiful and real. Words like beautiful seem so arbitrary, but maybe there's a part of me that cries because I so badly want to create something important as well.

While I was walking through Rodin's sculptures I noticed a guard watching me. (I was in my blue blue dress, for some reason that sticks in my head). The guard was older, with white hair and a soft grandfatherly, yet childish face, maybe those are synonymous anyway. He had hearing aids, not just the getting old kind, but I could tell he was at least partially deaf when he signaled me to come over and began to speak to me, (which was also strange because there were a lot of people in the museum and i don't know why he chose me). He said, 'did you see the van gogh's yet?', I said 'yes'. He told me that he'd stood guard for 12 hours in the room with the van gogh's and every time he looked at them he saw something different. He seemed to be so enthused and appreciative of the paintings. We talked for a few minutes and he asked me what I do. I said I wasn't quite sure, but that I love art and love to paint. With a wink as I left he said, 'maybe in 100 years you will be on these walls.' I'm not so sure about that, but as I rounded the corner and left him standing and watching in his navy blue museum guard suit, I was touched by the capacity we have to reach out to one another and to realize that art can be a catalyst for that connection.

I would love to know if this has happened to anyone reading this. Not exactly this, being stopped by a guard on a summer Tuesday, but rather, has art affected you in this way? Have you had a similar reaction? What do you think about this importance of going to museums and making a art a part of your life? and what about spirituality, where do you find it, what about it?

The third reason I was particularly moved in those moments between the Gaugin's, Picasso's, Matisse's and a Modigliani was perhaps more introspective than the other two, I've been having a particularly hard time the past couple weeks reconciling change, decision, endings and beginnings, to be entirely vague. As I walked through the paintings I listened on my black guide recorder about the artists, their lives and context of paintings. I realized that centuries ago these people also felt heartache and joy and loss and contentment. They painted about God and children, and lovers and death and unsurety. Being in the middle of those paintings for a few minutes felt like being among ancestors who cared and were speaking to me from centuries ago. i don't mean to be melodramatic, although it's perhaps one of my unavoidable qualities. i just mean to say that art is important, experience and spiritually are important, knowledge and connection are key. I just mean to say that standing in front of that giant picasso yesterday in my blue dress and braided hair meant a whole lot.


cha said...

i get you, and i feel the same, i agree with 3 reasons. i hope THE THING may inspires you for the creation of your work. I´m reading very deeply Rayuela again and it is introducing me to new fields of thoughts and perspective of life. much love

diana palmer said...

consider me moved.

shelly said...

"has art affected you in this way? Have you had a similar reaction? What do you think about this importance of going to museums and making art a part of your life? and what about spirituality, where do you find it, what about it?"

Those are really thought-provoking questions, Ash. I can say that art HAS afected me in this way. My first memory of going to an art museum was as a very little girl, and my mom & dad took us to the Huntington Library. I can still remember the portraits Blue Boy, and Pinkie. I got to buy little prints of them in the gift shop, and I had them on my wall for years. I recall a thrill that shot through me, little girl that I was, with the knowledge that I was looking at something that an artist had actually painted with his own hands so many years before -- that his models were real people that I was seeing -- all dressed up. I get overwhelmed when I see original art!

I had a similar experience a few years ago when I got to see the Van Gogh Exhibit at the Met in New York. I FELT it! It's the actual physical presence of the original before my eyes that speaks to me ... hence the importance of going to museums. Sadly, I allowed my life to be too busy to take as much advantage of doing that for my children. I plan on redeeming myself w/my grandchildren. That's my plan.

Spirituality -- I find in truly listening. Listening to what's behind words, listening and really looking at the art, listening to nature, listening to a look in the eyes, listening to quiet.

And there's my book for the day. Thanks for challenging me, Sweet Ashley!