Thursday, March 13, 2014

When we saw a Jackson Pollack for the first time

Our taxi stopped in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We come here a lot. Today we’re going to see “modern” paintings. Mommy said she was, “Not in the least bit interested,” so I think she’s going to Saks and taking a nap.

It’s a really cold Saturday. Mommy made me wear a scarf over my face and it’s itchy wool that gets wet from my breathing. She gave Daddy that look that she gives when she’s really serious about something. He won’t let me take it off now. The wind is ripping down Fifth Avenue.

We wait and wait and wait in the coat check line. Daddy stuffs my coat inside his so we only take up one hangar. “I want one of my own.”
“You don't need one and the people behind us do. Try to think about the people around you.”
I look at the floor feeling a little bit ashamed.
We take the elevator and arrive at a sunny gallery with very high ceilings. We walk around and I am confused. I see one painting that is all white, another that is an arrow and another that’s just squares in primary colors. Daddy stops in front of one that is a mess. It is enormous and has splatters of paint all over it.
“That’s not art.” I say in what my mother calls, “that tone of voice.”
“Says who?”
“Says me.”
“Well, what is art.”
“It should be at least pretty.”
“What if the artist doesn’t want you to see something pretty?”
“That’s kind of selfish.”
“What if the artist wants you to learn something, or feel something?”
“Learn or feel?”
“Look at this one. Really look at it. What do you think the artist was feeling? What does it look like?”
“It looks like someone threw up.”
“Ok. Think of the last time you threw up, after you ate that spaghetti. How did you feel afterwards?”
“How do you think the artist felt after he painted that?”
“Come on, you’re doing fine.”
“Maybe he had a lot of things he needed to get out of himself. Maybe that painting’s all the stuff inside him.”
“I don't know, but you’re starting to think about it. Do you still think it’s not art?”
“I know, we have to look until we see.” I sing-song it but it makes him smile. He’s really proud of me, and that's the best part of any day.

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