I had a work day full of things that it would not be hard to find annoying. I recognized that the challenge I was having with being at peace with my day was not unrelated to the morning news of us lurching closer to nuclear holocaust than ever before in my lifetime. I took myself to the museum to refresh myself with art–the place I most readily find nourishment and refuge.
I was feeling a bit melancholy at work this morning, so I went across the street at lunchtime and soaked up some beauty.
I am indeed blessed (by a combination of conscious choice and effort and good fortune) that I am able to take a lunch break on many days and that there are multiple opportunities to connect to beauty steps from work and home.
I love the Vogels’ story. It is wonderful to witness such an exquisite balance of passion and moderate living. Sometimes there is not much of a why for a thing. “I just like art,” Mr. Vogel said in 1992. “I don’t know why I like art. I don’t know why I like nature. I don’t know why I like animals. I don’t even know why I like myself.”
You may need to cut and paste this link into your browser to see the story:
Think of things/activities you like or which inspire you to passion. Can you really identify why you have come to have and develop certain likes or passions among multiple things all worthy of passion (as distinguished from providing after-the-fact explanations of why such things are worthy of your passionate attention and devotion of time and energy–for example, yoga)?
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
Walk quietly and meditatively to the National Gallery’s East Wing right away if you have not yet seen the Rothko in the Tower exhibit and you are in town. Exquisite. I have been many times while it has been open (one of the best things about my job is its proximity to the National Gallery, allowing me to go visit a painting or two at lunch), but have left if more than a couple of people are in the exhibit with me. Sometimes it is others who appreciate the subtleties and then we get the joy of communal appreciation and connection. More often with a group of visitors climbing the steps to the Tower gallery space, it is tourists who come up, see that the paintings are mostly black and loudly exclaim that they don’t get it. The act of not getting it without effort tends to make them louder and more inclined to just chat about whatever and not look at the art. When I find an art exhibit that is not to my taste, it is my practice (as I was taught) to make an effort to appreciate the technique and intention, if not the aesthetics, and then move on with some insight gained for the broader art world–knowing there is another opportunity just down the hall or the street for me to find deeper delight and inspiration.
I found the 1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibit at SAAM quite moving. The exhibit was put together for the 75th anniversary of the New Deal; it is merely coincidence that paintings commissioned by the United States government to depict American life in a time of dire conditions happen to be on exhibit at this time. It is a good companion to view along with Robert Frank’s Americans at the NGA West Wing — also on view because of an anniversary, not because of its coincidental timeliness.
The art is not great art, and it is stuck in the period in which it was painted, in part because of the nature of the commission. The depictions of America show any resilience and beauty inextricably intertwined with hardship and struggle. In its very datedness, the art on exhibit raises questions about what are society’s priorities today, how we are responding to the crisis of war, environmental devastation, and economic crisis and how we could enhance and celebrate humanity and the planet rather than continue to decimate the earth and ourselves.
According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, approximately 43% of your 2008 taxes will pay for war. President Obama’s proposed budget has a smaller increase than previous years, but does not lower in any way military spending. I’d rather my tax dollars were buying art.