The other night I went to an art exhibit at a gallery in Watkins Glen, NY. I had a painting displaying there and I asked my niece, Joyce, if she would go with me. Joyce is one of those easy going people who's ready for anything. At 21, she unknowingly possesses a kind of understated coolness which is the best kind of cool to have.
The gallery was small but full with art in many different mediums. There were oil and watercolor paintings, ink and pastel, glass, pottery, sculpture, silk screen, and collage. Joyce and I made our way around the displays twice. It was on the second tour that I discovered some small, carved rocks that I had missed the first time around. I like rocks in general, but here were some rocks with faces carved into them.
Most people would look at a rock and just see rock, but not this artist. He saw something that didn't exist yet, but could. Every piece of art has a story. The artist's life is in there, wrapped up somewhere in the work. Sometimes the artist communicates it in words, but most often he doesn't. The viewer is left to ponder the piece in front of him, and to wonder why it evokes the kind of internal response that it does. Successful art is about connecting. I don't necessarily mean that it has to be with the artist. It's connecting with yourself. People look at art in different ways, they interpret it differently. It means different things to different people. But, when you view a piece of art and something happens inside of you, you know it. Maybe it's caused by the color scheme, or light, or subject matter. Whatever it is, it evokes a response, a feeling, or something deeper that you might not be able to express. Somehow, art helps you connect with yourself. It's kind of like when people say they connect with nature. I think they are really connecting with themselves in nature. And in this fast paced culture where we can lose ourselves in busyness, entertainment, and social media, anything that helps us connect with ourselves is a gift.
I was fortunate to find out something about my sculptor from the gallery owner. She told me that he was local and had been an art teacher in the high school for years. He traveled and brought back rocks from around the world. The man was now in his 80's and there were only a handful of his rocks available for purchase. His family didn't want him to sell any more. Hearing that was enough for me. I had just gotten paid and had a little money to burn. "Ring me up that rock!" I told her.
My rock sculpting gentleman wasn't there that night, but I wish he had been. I would have made a point of meeting him, shaking his hand, and saying, "Thank you for the gift."
The next time you see a piece of art that really grabs you and you're struggling with whether you should buy it or not; go ahead and just do it. It's worth the connection.