Art Beyond Art’s Sake

Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye

I like a nice work of art, especially when it’s one I can re-use for English assignments. This was true with a painting that I still have up in my room, both in black and white and in color.  I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it looks as though I have to: up close it’s a woman in the mirror. Far away it’s a skeleton.

This is nowhere near my favorite work of art, but I think everyone needs a nice book, a nice painting, and a nice pair of L.L. Bean boots to cling to. Death of a Salesman was and still is that book for me. AP English Lit exam, AP English Language exam, in-class essays, practice essays, SAT essays…If you see Death of a Salesman, you’ll know it’s me…and all the 5 billion other kids!

The painting that I should remember but can’t was the one in the room of  a university admissions officer. I was having my first college interview, and I was nervous beyond belief. I had practiced all my practice questions. Yes I’m excited about college. Yes I try my best. Yes I  will make the Dean’s List. Etc., etc.

Then there came a question I had not anticipated, which is why I’m going to use elipses dots. The question was…what does this painting on the wall mean to you?

Really, Interviewer? We were getting along so well. It was swell. You liked my books and I pretended to like yours. We were both headed in the right directions…until you asked me about the painting on the wall.

So I faked it. I faked it ’til I made it. I went on a twenty minute tangent about the colors and the shapes and the profundity of meaning in that $5 painting.

Maybe it was a test: stand on a sidewalk in New York City and grab five bucks out of your pocket and pay for some street art to ask prospective students about. Test their creativity.

It was an entertaining painting, that’s for sure, with the swirls and the lines and the curves. Yet it was too upbeat, like people.

I like my paintings like I like my people–deeper. If Nancy Clutter were a painting, would you buy her? If you could re-use the Nancy Clutter painting for every task, would you buy it? Yes, yes I would.

15 thoughts on “Art Beyond Art’s Sake

  1. This was my favorite post so far. I think it’s pretty cool that you were able to go on for 20 minutes off the cuff!

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  7. Knowing the name of the picture you showed made it mean more. I’ve always found this sort of picture fascinating, where you can see two different images. Once you see one, it’s often much more difficult to see the second one!


    • I completely agree. The fact that all IS vanity might suggest that vanity consumes us, just like it consumes this poor woman in the mirror into nothing but a memento mori. Creepy optical illusion.

  8. I am overcome by all your posts – must read and re-read. So sarcastically sweet (sweetly sarcastic?) and always honest. Have you invited D. Sedaris to check it out?

    One fear – since I need a “quick trip to the loo” with some frequency I worry – will I no longer be on the “OK list” of Mom’s friends?!

    I appreciate this window into your world (heart? soul?) – continue!

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