Saturday, March 12, 2005

Weekend Assignment #50 - Artsy-Fartsy

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #50: Art for Art's Sake

Time for the Weekend Assignment, and this week, we're getting artistic on you:

Weekend Assignment #50: Tell us about an artwork --painting, sculpture or other visual work -- which had a significant impact on you.
Note this doesn't have to be your "favorite"piece of art, or the one you like the most (although it can be, if you want): I'm looking for the work that made you think, or affected you in an unexpected way.

Extra Credit:
Assuming money was no object, how much would you spend on a piece of art?

Dear John,

Curse you and your thoughts of Spring! Yesterday it was -16° F for a low, the day before was -9° F. Snow, snow and more snow. It snows again as I type this -- another foot expected. Grrr and Brrr!

The first painting I am aware of that grabbed me was a print of a typical mid to late 1800's Romantic Realism piece of a lone wolf at twilight, high on a hill overlooking a small village in winter, smoke curling from chimneys and foals and lambs in the paddocks. I felt for the wolf, empathasizing with it's hunger. At the same time, I was terrified by the primordial fear that would rise inside me when I looked at that painting. That I could experience two such conflicting emotions at the same time amazed me and began looking at paintings in earnest. I was seven or eight. I never did learn who created the wolf painting -- the print was sold at a moving sale in 1963 and never seen again. (Much like my primitive attempts at creating art -- lost to posterity, unsigned and unlamented -- they were horrible.)

The next time I recall taking an interest in art was in my pre-teens. My uncle had purchased an old barn converted into a house in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, which some artist named Wyeth had owned and my mother got all excited about that. I was curious and inquired as to who this Wyeth was and got myself a mini-education about N.C. Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth. Jamie is only a few years older than I am, so he wasn't a factor ... yet! Although, by then he'd already been studying painting eight hours a day for five years. Little wonder he is this country's best artist today.

Later, I remember being lost in a folio book of Dali; drooling over images by Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, and other Impressionists; and, falling in love with Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" and Jamie Wyeth's "Portrait of a Pig".

You have to know, John, if it wasn't already owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I'd spend whatever it took to purchase the original "Christina's World". Millions, probably, possibly billions would be necessary. I'd then give it to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, which is where I truly believe it should reside, with the rest of the Wyeths that form the permanent collection. Much as I would love to "own" such a piece, I haven't a room in this hovel large enough to do the piece justice. It's a BIG painting. Then again, if money was no object, I wouldn't be living in this hovel in the first place. However, if it's any indication of where art falls in our lives, we gave ourselves full frames and matting for the two prints we bought
for our wedding anniversary last year. It was a lot of money (high 3 figures) by our standards but well worth it.

Give our best to your bride and progeny, keeping sharp instruments out of Athena's hands when the animals are around. Tell her that "Uncle Wil" will be glad to take her out foraging for road kill next summer...

Grins and giggles,


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