DISCLAIMER: I am not an art lover. I have never studied art or art history. While I consider myself cultural, I don’t always have a love of or appreciation for art.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I can tell you how I really feel.
Art museums aren’t high on my list when visiting new places (unless that place is Florence, Italy and you’re going to see Michaelangelo’s David, which I did). I like art. I have nothing against it. But for me art is either really cool and interesting or just stunningly beautiful. I don’t look for the hidden meanings. I can’t stare at a blue canvas and grasp what the painter was trying to convey.
I have had my share of art exposure though. I grew up in the Washington, DC area. I’ve been to the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn, the National Gallery of Art. I’ve gone to MoMA in NYC and had brunch with the Kennedys in the Trustees Dining Room (reality: William Kennedy Smith sat a few tables away).
For many years, I lived in Cleveland right near the Cleveland Museum of Art. On my lunch break, I would wander around looking at the actual suits of armor (my favorite) and a version of Rodin’s The Thinker that was damaged by war protests back in the 70’s.
The culmination of my art experiences until now was a visit to the Tate Modern in London. My husband and I had a fantastic time admiring the art, participating in the art, and yes, even giggling at the art – often inappropriately.
Now, I have a new place to giggle: the North Carolina Museum of Art. My husband took it upon himself to join the newly renovated and expanded art museum and secure us tickets to the opening weekend. I was more than impressed. I was delighted.
The new building is gorgeous and filled with light. Yes, I said light. The kind of light that is usually frowned upon by art enthusiasts because of the damaging effects it can have on the artwork. NCMA is using new technology that allows you to view sculptures, paintings, installations in a way that was probably originally intended. The natural lighting also allows for some beautiful flash-free photography.
Don’t worry. I’m not heading into an art lesson. I’m not an art lover, remember? But I’m excited and proud to be a part of this new museum. And now we have something extra to do when you come visit me.
Here are some of my favorites from the opening last weekend.
And finally, all jokes aside, this is the one piece that touched me and gave me chills. The sculpture itself is brilliant and even more meaningful when you read the caption for this incredible piece of artwork.
Caption from the North Carolina Museum of Art display:
“During his tragically short career, Michael Richards repeatedly addressed issues of social injustice. This work pays honor to the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots whose heroic contributions to World War II was recognized only recently. Cast from the artist’s own body, the gold-painted airman is penetrated by small airplanes, reminiscent of the arrows shot at St. Sebastian, an early Christian martyr. The title of the work, with its double reference, with its double reference to the saint and a southern folktale of entrapment, pays tribute to the Tuskegee pilots – and to all who suffer intolerance and unfairness. The sculpture, in effect a self-portrait, now seems an eerie foretelling of the artist’s death. Richards was a victim of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; his studio was on the 92nd floor of Tower One.”
Art lover or not, I hope you enjoy.