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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, April 30, 2007

Inapt Abstract

There was an art festival thing in town last weekend (Magic City Art Connection, to be exact), and after a'gawkin' and a'grinnin' at all the pretty pictures I made a couple modest purchases. One was a tiny but thick book of lovely landscape sketches... I haven't delved into it yet, so I have no particular comment. The other was a tiny abstract by an out-of-town artist. I have a case of buyer's remorse now, because it's a pretty weak work. I bought it after perusing her exhibit, and she's got a complex and compelling style; her paintings really drew me in. This tiny square I bought has all her motifs, but little of the richness of her better work. It's like a student imitation of her style, or a hastily commodified version. Rather than a compressed miniaturization of her work, it's just a bashed-out self-imitation, quickly made and sold to low-budget abstract-hungry shmoes like me. It looked better in the context of her exhibit, when it fit into a continuum, but removed from that continuum it stands revealed as a flavorless crumb from a tasty meal. I ganked a postcard with tiny reproductions of her work, and it persuades me that I hadn't taken total leave of my senses; her developed work is quite rich and lovely. But my share of it didn't get the love the big canvases got.

Nonetheless, I've taken down a Ranma 1/2 wallscroll I've had hanging there since the Clinton Administration and put this tile of offhand abstraction in its place. I intend to buy more art to spruce up the place. Let this underwhelming offshoot of a rather more impressive corpus serve as a warning for this wayward art buying novice. Perhaps I'll buy more tiny abstracts and make a mosaic of them. If I were more ambitious and good at construction I'd make a cheap-abstraction-mobile. Or something like a bead curtain, only with palm-sized paintings instead of beads. But I won't do these construction projects, because I'm lazy and bad with my hands. The mosaic, OTOH, might happen.

I think one reason I've tolerated the jaw-dropping messiness of my room for so long is that if you fill a room waist-deep with books, comics and clothes, then squint in bad light, it kinda looks like Paul Klee. Maybe getting some real art on these walls will be a more fruitful way to meet my aesthetic hungers.

* * *

Yesterday at church we had the youth-led Sunday. I always enjoy this stuff; I participated in one back at Signal Mountain Presbyterian, and it's always excited me to see teens stepping up to the challenge of providing spiritual sustenance. They did a great job. I don't know any of them but they're bright, funny and thoughtful. I learned something from watching them; whenever they spoke, sang, danced, whatever, they would usually betray lack of confidence for a second, through a grimace, uneasy grin, or eye roll. But then they'd jump into whatever they were doing, and do it well. Confidence, it turns out, is a choice. I kinda knew that, but I didn't really know that.

The youth also talked about how they recently attended a Unitarian youth camp where they lit candles for the victims of the VTech shootings. They discussed whether to light 33 candles or only 32. They finally decided on 33, because Unitarianism is rooted in a belief in the worth and dignity of all life. It would have been hard for me to light that 33rd candle, but it was the right decision.

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