June 06, 2012

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

            It’s not everybody who can understand “art.”  It’s not everybody who can understand “creative types.”  It’s not everybody who can explain an enormous Jeff Koons metallic balloon animal or a Jackson Pollock splatter painting or Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Beethoven’s whatever or the entire body of work of William Seward Burroughs.  And, in all honesty, this Recent Paterfamilias is only half-way confident that he understands or can explain “art.”  Apart from knowing it when he sees it, that’s about as much as this R.P. can claim any expertise on the topic at hand. 

            But I’ve always likes Jeff Koons’ metallic balloon animals, and after months of looking for miniature versions of same, I finally stumbled upon some (albeit not by Koons, nor even openly attributed to Koons’ influence) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) online gift shop. 

            Quickly, I picked a color (yellow—they only come in yellow and purple) and I placed my online order. 

            A week later, it came in the mail. 

            It came broken.  The nub tail had snapped off.  I lodged my complaint.  SFMoMA’s gift shop was full of apologies and agreed to ship out a new one post haste, and they suggested that I simply discard of the damaged one and enjoy my new foot long fake balloon animal dog when it came in the mail. 

            But why discard of the other broken dog, simply because he is broken?  It seemed like such a waste. 

            Then the Recent Paterfamilias had an idea.  A good idea.  An inspired idea. 

            The little dog’s tail was broken.  He had a boo-boo.  He needed a Band-Aid. 

            So, I put one on. 

            Then the R.P. had another idea.  Another great idea.  And this idea was even better than his first idea. 

            Don’t use just a regular Band-Aid.  Use a “fancy” Band-Aid. 

            So, off I went to the store. 

            Dora the Explorer?  No.  Hello Kitty?  No.  Snoopy and the Gang?  No.    

            And then there he was.  Staring me right in the face.  In a collectors’ series of Band-Aids, of all things.  Mickey the Mouse, assorted. 

            I bought six boxes. 

            After application, I felt my small dog also needed a clear coating of some sort (to prevent UV damage, as well as saving my Koons-esque canine from becoming a dusty disgusting mess). 

            Krylon makes a Clear Gloss Acrylic Spray Coating that worked out rather splendidly. 

            But, as this Recent Paterfamilias does not have an art studio of his very own (at least not yet), he was forced to apply his topical acrylic application outside.  In the open.  On the street. 

            Now, naturally, this drew no small amount of attention from passersby on our block’s busy sidewalk, but this attention allowed the R.P. the opportunity to ponder upon our public’s varied takes and opinions on “art” and so-called “creative types,” as well as get some insight into the artistic palate of the everyday everyman. 

            More than a few people passing by, when asked by their kids in tow, “What’s that?  What’s he doing?  What’s it supposed to be?” responded by saying, “I don’t know, it’s weird, keep walking, don’t look at him, let’s go.”  And off they went, home to their dinner. 

            A couple of kids came over and asked what I was doing.  I told them.  They nodded.  They looked to their parents.  Their parents nodded.  They looked back toward me.  They asked why.  I said, “It’s art.”  They said, “Oh.  That’s cool.”  And off they went, home to their dinner. 

            A couple of drunk middle-aged “business types” asked if what I was doing was going to go “Vroooosh!”  I said that I didn’t know what that meant.  They asked if it was going to take off and fly away.  I told them that it wasn’t a bird.  This must have suited and amused them, for they nodded and chuckled, and off they went, home to their dinner. 

            Now, I don’t know if it’s “art.”  It may look like art.  It may even look like pop art.  It might also look like kitsch.  But it also looks like, and acts like, exactly that for which I’d intended it to look and act like—a door stop to keep the doggy door on the doggy gate closed so that our dear little doggy (let’s call him Tedward) doesn’t go tearing out of our bedroom on any little whim in the middle of the night and starting barking his little doggy head off just because some person is out in the common hallway. 

But no matter what my little Koons-ish art dog may or may not look like, I do know that he offered me a little glimpse into the creative views of many a local New Yorker on that afternoon.  (And, I must say, the views on creativity were largely unfavorable for “creative types”—nobody likes to get heckled by their neighbors and intoxicated bankers and crotchety octogenarians—although, admittedly, the crotchety octogenarians in my neighborhood will heckle just about anybody for just about anything for just about any reason, on just about any excuse, and after just about enough of this nonsense, it’s just about enough to make a Paterfamilias want to start heckling back.)


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