The picture in the posting under this one is of “Eternal Idol”, a sculpture that isn’t at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford. It’s my favorite Rodin work though so I had to include it. In fact, what the hell, I’ll include it again, this time in marble:
I have a special happy place in my heart for “Eternal Idol”, because I very clearly remember walking through the Musee Rodin in Paris, having spent dozens of hours in museums all over the city, not to mention the countless museums I had been to in other parts of the world, politely reading the little plaques next to each work and trying to take in all the names and dates and gaining a basic understanding of what separated the Impressionists from the Cubists from the Surrealists, and not really caring too much, other than to decide what I did and didn’t like and what I might be willing to hang on a wall, and after all of my dedicated gazing and reading and postcard buying and diligent consideration of form and structure and other art criticism vocabulary words, I stood in front of “Eternal Idol” and I just felt.
I felt my heart speed up a little, like I had accidentally stumbled on some intimate scene between lovers. It was like taking a shot of Mraztubation concentrate, without mixing in the two cans of tap water. I felt the strength and vulnerability of the woman, in a position of dominance, and yet looking like she was holding back and giving herself to him all at once, and the helpless, kneeling devotion of the man, and I thought it was the sexiest, most honest and evocative thing I had ever seen in a museum – a very Mraz, Bella Luna, “How you swoon me like no other” kind of pose where eros meets agape.
And in that moment it was like someone flipped a switch and I ‘got’ art. It’s the same feeling of clarity I had when Jason Mraz brought the whole world to a standstill – I swear the Earth stopped turning, just for a minute – by performing 10,000 Motherfuckers in Saratoga last summer. Just… click.
I’m not saying I was an art dunce before that, or that I’m an expert art critic now, but after that close encounter of the bronze kind, paintings and sculptures and architecture all came more alive for me and I was able to see them as more than just the facts listed in the guidebooks, or as being something other than just “pretty” or “God awful”, although I do still find myself thinking, “Dear God, that’s really awful” more often than is probably fair. I mean, somebody has to work on the crazy end of the creative spectrum, making portraits of the royal family out of recycled pantyhose and motor oil just to balance out the number of puff paint sweatshirts brought into the world every year.
Having said that, I think karma will ensure that someday I wind up with several grandchildren, all of whom will love to make their Nana shirts decorated with poofy pink handprints and kitty cats and smiley faces for every holiday, and I will wear them proudly.
P.S. – My, oh my. I just went looking for a link to a good puff paint site and I swear, I swear, I could not have made this up. This is what middle America considers
a good time art, although it sounds like it should be punishable by law:
Angels are behind grandchildren! – Insert cardboard into a t-shirt and pin back excess so that it is ready to paint on. This will need at least two people and a young child in a good mood! Paint the child’s bottom with any color of acrylic paint. Sit child on the shirt so that it leaves a fanny impression. Wash up child! Let paint dry. The butt cheeks are the angel wings. Paint a face or use a photo iron-on of the child. Make a “cone” of lace for the dress. Glue on a halo made from a pearl string.
Butt cheek angel wings. My day just got a whole lot funnier.