Sunday, February 14, 2010

Art Appreciation

Mark Velasquez photography

Neff, Noah and I braved the snow to attend the Brooklyn Museum's Kiki Smith opening on Friday. Neff got in due to Noah's extra ticket while I was left to my own devices. Using my fake, photoshopped "press pass", which I had created to finagle my way into the Michael Jackson trial back in 2005, I easily convinced the matrons manning the front counter that I should be given entrance, and tada! Lamb ball hors d'oeuvres for me and free beer for my cohorts.

We saw the show, shmoozed with various friends and acquaintances, and of course I had my photo taken with Kiki, trying not to act like a silly school girl meeting one of the Jonas Brothers. I was pleased to see children at the show, a rare sight in the New York City area on a whole, let alone in an art world setting. There was a stroller here and there amidst the large-headed sculptures while Obama-voting parents held their toddlers up to the chine-collé prints, hoping to pass their love for this work onto the next generation.

In one of the rooms, we spied a boy of about seven or eight sitting on the floor of the crowded gallery amidst all the mingling adults. He had taken a liking to one of Smith's sculptures hanging from the ceiling and was intent on drawing it in this little book. Neff, Noah and I all were intrigued to see the kid in action, but before I could take a photo of him in the cramped space he was bolting up to proudly show his dad, an artist Noah turned out to know personally.
Mark Velasquez photography
About half an hour later we were done exploring the museum and were headed off to find some dinner and a well-needed drink, hopping into a quick-filling elevator. The last people to get in were the little boy who had been drawing and his parents. We stood fairly quiet in the elevator as the boy reviewed his night's work, clearly seeming disappointed. Finally he looked to his dad and said, loud enough for all of us to hear, "It took me so much time and I got such little pictures!" At this point we all smiled, and Noah commented on the boy's frustration for all of us, saying sympathetically, "Now you're thinking like an artist."

It was a light, fun moment that unfortunately illustrated a real frustration for creative people, whether they haven't reached double digits or are collecting social security. We all easily saw ourselves in that boy's disappointing realization, when this thing you start out doing for fun finally begins to feel like it is real work and thus less enjoyable.

This week spent in New York has been truly great in so many unnameable ways. Thankfully, in the last four years I've come full circle in my sensibilities, from entirely forsaking the art world and what it stands for to relenting passed the self-deprecating concept that there might actually be a place in there somehow for me. Either way, I'm ready for the next step, excited to get back to work, and look forward to the challenges from new realizations to come.


  1. One of my favourite quirks of the French is the ubiquitous "bon courage" they give to touring cyclists, or anyone that they realise is on a physical journey (a hike, a long run, etc.)

    I puzzled over it for a while, as my feel for the language is not so good. It wasn't until I noticed that the root of the word courage is cour, heart. So they are wishing one to be of good heart, to have faith in oneself, to survive the doubt.

    So (at the risk of being too hokey)

    bon courage mon ami

    PS- as a side note, my brother-in-law ditched a 15 year career in marketing to become a potter 9 years back. He's now found his muse, has galleries calling him, and is being bought by museums. It can happen.

  2. It's funny just before reading this article my girlfriend's dog was being a nusance and barking at the other pet and her name is Brooklyn. What a coincidence. That is the Brooklyn Museum. It's nifty all that snow!