31 January 2012

So we were walking in the forest and we heard this weird sound from way up high in a tree.

When I went to graduate school in art, the faculty was divided up into 2 teams. One team was the theory people, who were all, "Derrida, la la la la la," and could look at your sandwich and tell you why the lettuce reminds them of Julia Kristeva's notion of Otherness which totally kills Walter Benjamin, and if you said the wrong thing, like if you just guessed and were all, "Yeah! Foucault would probably totally throw Walter Benjamin in JAIL!" then they looked at you with their funny glasses and sticky uppy hair and were all "WRONG," and you didn't even get Thanks For Playing, just some snide and snarky passive aggressive secret Loser Card that you didn't even know you got, it being a secret and all.

On the other team were the Painters, who were into Realness and shit. They would beat their balled up hands on their hearts to demonstrate Realness, and were confrontational on a totally Not Passive Aggressive level. They more liked to storm around and declare everything This is Shit and had psychic abilities to tell your future which would not ever include being a Real Artist. Although my future, according to one blues guitar playing abstract painter that wore a floppy leather hat, super ugly, was that I would be a housewife with a bunch of kids, so HA! whatever your name was because if you could see my house you would never, ever think a housewife lives here.

Do you know who Wayne Thiebaud is? Great American painter icon, famous for modest and colorful paintings of cakes, he had a lot of class. Once, in the midst of a turmoil storm between the 2 teams, me standing there in my Converse one stars and jeans, not sure if I'm supposed to be crying or yelling back because the teams were fighting over who actually caused the desperate badness of my art, each team wanting to blame the other team due to the whole travesty of what I was displaying in my studio, he sort of stands up from where he was seated in my robotic pleather recliner chair covered in a million plastic flowers I found in a dump pile near the cemetery and his presence of classiness calms the fray for a minute.

He walks over and finds a little painting of a horse, up there on my wall. "Look at this horse," he says.

It all goes sort of quiet, maybe there is still passive aggressive snarky spitty whispering from the edge of the crowd, but overall, silence.

"She could be a great painter of horses. This is a great painting of a horse." He turns to look at me. "You should just paint horses and work on doing it really well."

Nobody argued with him, he was really old and the whole icon thing. Once he spoke it meant that we were all done. They all filed out of the studio and probably went to lunch to scream at each other over cocktails or whatever it is that faculty does when they're in a big yappy pack like that.

I think I just went back to doing whatever it was I was doing. And worked even harder on not listening to what all those big flappy mouths were saying. Only occasionally, now, do I ever paint horses.


jodi, eh? said...

That doesn't sound any crazier than some of the wars generated by some agility folk out there with their "handling system" teams. The floppy hat man wasn't so far off, he just meant dogs, not horses.

I, for one, are glad that you are an artist who found a way to share your stuff with the rest of us.

jedandsophie said...

There is more than one way to paint a picture. You can paint a picture with colors and paints, and paint brushes and tools, or you can paint a picture with words. Your talent is multi-faceted; tools, paints, and really, I think best of all is the words.

Elf said...

Writing fiction is like that, too. Blogging is like that, too. Any art is like that. Dogs know that there is a better way: Me chase ball. Now.