November 17, 2007

The Grand Rapids Art Museum

Tonight, I visited the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

(By the way, I'm writing this while I'm sleepy.)

Now, I usually think of myself as one of the last people who should be visiting an art museum. The first couple floors mostly confirmed this - chairs (which makes sense, GR is the furniture city) and abstract stuff. There was a giant closepin, and the museum's iconic piece is supposed to be a giant parallelogram, the top half is blue and the bottom half is white. That's about it. Kinda looks like an eraser or a crooked pregnancy test. They were dispensing alcohol (not free) near the door, presumably to help people make sense of all of this.

I think they put a couple of security guards on Josh and I, because there seemed to be one with us at all times. I was thinking, why us? In addition to being the least qualified person to judge art, I was probably also the least psychotic, the least likely to cause a scene. There were lots of people more scary-looking than me there. Are they really going after young, unkempt dudes who obviously know very little about art? They may have been onto something if this was the case. I saw a piece that appeared to have thread woven into it, and to confirm it I put a finger to it. I always have to touch things, I don't know why. But not a second later, the guard appeared out of nowhere, stared at me, and left without saying a word. Creepy.

It wasn't all weird stuff and stalkerish security guards. There was some cool stuff. They have a large collection of Chris VanAllsburg's original illustrations from his books. And the whole idea of having a presentable art museum in Grand Rapids is pretty cool. One more thing for a visitor to do that isn't a mall or a movie theater. The architecture of the building makes a tour worthwhile, and as I've heard a few people say, it doesn't feel like you're in Grand Rapids. But I did really like the stuff on the top floor, the more realistic paintings and sculptures. That's so much more accessible to me, as someone who never studied art. For me and my untrained eyes, good art is anything that puts you in another place, for however long. I don't get abstract sculptures, I don't understand how "horizontal figures dance with vertical ones," I don't like the static, technicolor square-art. Giant closepins don't put me somewhere else. I wanted them to, but they don't.

Fine art is about as accessible to me as arty French films.

The stuff I liked - I learned tonight that it was Impressionist - was realistic. It tapped my imagination and put me somewhere else. I like the stuff that evokes a real scene, apart from my everyday life. This is probably why I like photography. I don't have to study anything, I just have to look. Good enough for me.

By the way, The love of looking is called "Scopophilia." Take that to the bank.

But the last thing I want to do is tell you what is and isn't art. If you get giant closepins and half-toned erasers and that stuff, that's sweet. Maybe I'll get it someday.

I'm going to bed.

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