It was a wild week in art.
First, during a writing workshop that combines looking at art and writing, a fellow volunteer (Michael Don’t-Know-His-Last-Name) pointed out that the ancient funerary portrait below, which hangs in the Seattle Art Museum looks just like Bill Murray, my too-old-for-me celebrity crush.
Where is Bill Murray on Ground Hog Day?
I have been working on three extremely scientific theories about the portrait:
1) Bill Murray’s face has time-travel powers.
2) Bill Murray’s face is trapped in the Seattle Art Museum. In Ground Hog Day fashion, he endures one day on repeat. Except instead of loveable bumpkins in a quaint Pennsylvania town, he’s stuck listening to snooty Seattle art critics. Poor Bill!
3) Everyone has an ancient doppelganger. Mine is surely Cleopatra.
Art Attacks & Attitudes
Also last week, while enjoying a few drinks in an overrated hipster bar, a huge wooden installation fell off the wall and hit my sister’s arm. Had she been sitting one seat over, she would have been knocked unconscious. Or electrocuted by the piece’s blinking bulb nose. This was not the kind of art one dreams of being killed by.
The bar didn’t offer to comp. her meal, not even when she mentioned impending bruises. Rather, the owner gave her the attitude. As if she willed the painting to fly off the wall just to get a small bowl of baked macaroni for free.
There’s nothing we could have done ~ the bartender
Actually, you could learn how to hang unnecessarily large paintings properly ~ what I should have said.
Stop, Take a Look & Listen
So what did I learn during this wild week of art? I should get more out of art. I visit museums often when traveling and lately, I have been snapping too many photos and just living behind the lens. Art isn’t a deer about to run away, there’s no reason to rush to get a photo of every piece of work. Oh wait, there is a reason.
Look, Facebook, it’s Degas! Look Twitter, it’s Dali!
And also, when Bill Murray’s face appears in a funerary portrait. It was the one time I wasn’t packing an SLR. My sad screenshot above will have to do, but I promise the portrait’s hanging in the SAM.
Another thing I learned was that kids today are extremely bright. So we can all just exhale. I am not sure if they go to private school, but there are some serious little learners out there. Like, using-words-I-learned-last-year bright. Talking-about-high-concept art bright. Knowing where Syria is* bright.
Words from middle schoolers:
It’s not like someone teaching me about history or reading about it, [with ancient art] I can see it.
The Christmas tree looks confused. In response to this, from a photography project focused on aluminum Christmas trees.
When asked “Is that art?” about a blank white canvas: Some people might say that’s not art, but it’s the intention that matters.
Kids put the art in smart.
I wonder if I used to see things differently, if I was more passionate, more excited about art in grade school. I thought about this after I read about the experiment with Joshua Bell, a near-famous classical musician playing on the subway steps. All the adults rush by, missing that they’re being treated to music from a respected violinist. But the kids slow down and listen.
Enjoy art. Just don’t let it attack you.
*I can do this too. But not in middle school. In middle school I was all wrapped up in breeding swordtail fish and naming my hypothetical horses.