My real Mohawk Valley bloggable activity Saturday was to go to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI), 310 Genesee St., Utica. The select few who read every post know I blogged about a restaurant and two craft stores I went to Saturday, but these were merely en route. I really wanted to blog about the art museum.
I remember in Basic Training one of my drill sergeants speaking disparagingly about “culture” as something his wife forced him to do. It was then that I realized, I like culture. I like museums, libraries, plays and symphony concerts. I think they are fun. Sometimes I imagine I should be more of a hoity toity person than I am. I should eat and drink with one pinky in the air. I should make scholarly observations such as, “I thought the adaptation was more literary than cinematic” (that was a line from a movie which I believe was intended to show the speaker as pretentious). Well I’m not and I don’t. I went to the museum because I like to look at the pictures.
We had a little adventure getting there, because there was a detour on Genesee Street. Luckily Steven was driving. We were soon parking and ready to view some art.
The regular exhibit at MWPAI is a good mix of styles. I would say more about this if I had ever taken an art class and knew how to properly apply the labels: modern, abstract, surrealism. This goes back to what I said earlier about scholarly observations. I got nothing.
When I was admiring a large Jackson Pollock, I remembered a conversation I overheard years ago with Roland Gibson and a college student. Roland Gibson was a prominent art collector who allowed many of his pieces to be displayed at SUNY Potsdam. By all accounts he was a shrewd judge of these things, and his collection was quite valuable. I was working in the dining hall when Mr. Gibson came in with a college student (I’m guessing) helping him carry a painting to be hung. The student was apparently not an art student, because he confessed to not understanding the attraction of abstract art.
“I mean, I could do that,” he said, repeating the cliche criticism that has been leveled against non-realistic paintings for many years.
Mr. Gibson told him that when we view a piece of art, we are viewing “the inspiration of the artist.”
“You say you could do that. I say, ‘But you didn’t.'”
I’m probably paraphrasing, but I’ve always remembered the sentiment. I didn’t think to splatter paint on canvas. Pollock thought of it. I don’t always like the results of the inspiration of the artist, and I’m sure there are artists who in fact are trying to get away with something. I like to think most of them have inspiration. If I don’t like the results, well it didn’t hurt me to look.
We made a quick stop at the gift shop before we left. I bought a few postcards. I think I’ll send one to a soldier I know in Afghanistan. He could use a little culture.