Tuesday, June 8, 2010


We were seat mates on the flight from Rome to Chicago, and as seat mates often do, we engaged in the usual exchange of civil pleasantries: are you here on business, where is home, what do you do, etc.? When I mentioned I was an artist his eyes brightened, and he proceeded to tell me all about his love of art, at which point my eyes brightened. I soon learned that he had a broad and deep understanding of art and had visited almost all of the major art museums in the world (his work requires him to travel frequently and extensively.) At this point we had all that was needed to establish a good 11 hour transatlantic relationship. But there was more. I explained my transition from medicine to art and he responded by telling me about his younger son who is almost finished his medical studies (wants to be a neurologist) but whose real passion is music and his fantasy is to write critical reviews of jazz music. The fact that we shared the same political and social views was simply the icing on the cake.

Somewhere over northern Europe or the Atlantic I showed Alex my portfolio and pics of my work on my laptop. He took his time looking at each piece of art, and dismissed my feeble murmurs about boring him assuring me he was thoroughly enjoying himself, and for the next several hours I sat and listened to his far ranging comments on my work....he told me which ones he liked, or really liked, and which ones did nothing for him...which pieces reminded him of another artist or another artists style and always taking the time to tell me that it was not meant as a criticism or to diminish my work...he described his reactions to a piece of work and what it was that evoked the response. He gave me a critical response to an extensive body of my work that was unlike anything I ever experienced. It was both informative and affirming, and quite simply an amazing experience.

Alex “knows art”. He is well grounded in many of the fundamentals of composition, color, etc., and has an extensive knowledge of art history, artists, and their work. He is someone who lives art, who emerges himself in a painting, probing to understand the work and his response to it. He is capable of talking intelligently and personally about a painting.

This is in sharp contrast to myself. I have little knowledge of art history, and give little thought to why I like of dislike a particular work of art. I am impatient with art, and when visiting a museum or gallery walk through it at far too brisk a pace. I am aware of my attitude and view it as a serious shortcoming. I find it difficult to talk about or to explain my own art and have given up trying to understand why I create the art that I do. I just do it, and that is all that really matters to me. I especially dislike the artist’s statements that many galleries and dealers ask for. I have made them, always feeling that they were insufficient and somewhat superficial.

Perhaps this is why Alex’s comments on my work, the good and the not so good, were so fascinating and delightful to hear. They were thoughtful and they were honest. I truly believe that he enjoyed looking at the work as much as I enjoyed showing it. The 11 hours wasn’t nearly as long as it would have been without this encounter.

I think I have found a friend.


Liminal Spaces Flanders Fields -kindly supported by the City of Mesen said...

What a delicious experience. Nice to have found you and your words out here.

Aynex Mercado said...

Your feeling about art is so much like mine is amazing. Only difference is that I'm not making any right now. Maybe I need to take a trip to Italy. :)

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Joy Logan said...

This is a fabulous piece...love the colors in this also. But I am a fan of yours unlike Alex who "knows" art.