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Artsy Me

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.

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