8.23.2010

Art teaches us what it is to be human......


Snapshot taken in the museum with Olympus EP2 and 20mm Panasonic lens.

This is a plaster cast from the Battle Collection at the Blanton Musuem.  It used to live at the Humanities Research Center but it moved.  I didn't get the change of address form but I found the collection on sunday afternoon.  It had moved to nicer quarters.  Corner office.  I know they are plaster casts but they are amazing stand ins for their real counterparts.

I thought of some e-mails I'd received recently from photographers who wanted to know how to get much better much quicker so they could make "big" money.  I laughed because I was thinking about a quote from Oscar Wilde, "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught."

Then I thought of the long paid apprenticeship (paid by the family of the apprentice to the artist!!!!!)  and years and years of practice, and the years of learning about life and art that culminated in this work, and I just shook my head.  Learning by precious osmosis.  And repetition. The thrill of mastery.  The wonder of discovery.


It's not the destination that makes the man (or the artist).  It is the journey.  







Two great books about art that everyone should read.  One tells you how to keep at it.  The other one explains what it's all about.

Is life good? What's your perspective?


view of the Blanton Museum ceiling from opposite angles.

I think, very clearly, that your point of view depends on your angle of view.  I am just human and as petty and selfish and self-indulgent as the next person.  When I left the Blanton Museum on Sunday, with my beautiful wife, I caught myself thinking, "How do I get famous?  Why do I struggle?  "Why are we born just to suffer and die?" "Where's my Porsche?"  Usually the universe takes its time to punish me for stupid and selfish thoughts but on this particular day the universe decided to instruct rather than to overtly punish.  (If you are religious, it was God;  if not, it was random occurrence misinterpreted by me).

As we walked back toward my shiny car, in the 104 degree heat, we came across a young, African American man in tattered clothes, carrying a mangled cane (the kind that blind people use to navigate), sweating profusely and obviously under emotional distress. As we can closer to the intersection he sensed our presence and called out, "Can someone please help me cross this street?"

Of course, we walked right over and introduced ourselves and offered our help.  According to him he'd been tossed out of his housing because his social security check didn't arrive on time.  Didn't matter to me what the story was.  He was obviously in physical and mental distress.  What he needed was enough money to cover his rent until his check came (a day or two) and perhaps some money for food.  We led him to our car and got directions from him.  He called his landlord and told him he had the money he needed to be allowed back into his room till his check arrived.  We gave him a bottle of water and some packages of cookies we had in the car.  We gave him the money he needed and a bit more to buy some food.  A total of $30.  He seemed genuinely appreciative.

For $18 we gained some insight into art at the Matisse show at the Blanton Museum.  For a few dollars more I was able to confront my own selfishness, my lack of appreciation for the enormous luxury of my own life,  my pettiness and, even my cynicism.  It was an enormously small price to pay to be reminded how wonderful and comfortable my life is and how lucky I have been.

The cynic asked, "Was I scammed out of $30?"  God no.  I was given a chance to see reality thru a different prism.  I was given a gift.  I'm glad the universe decided on instruction yesterday instead of punishment.  I hope I can hold on to the lesson.

The two images above show me two points of view.  How radically different the same ceiling looks from two different sides.  Shot minutes apart.  I am so happy I can see.