EyeLevel Blog Response: Art & Love, 1.15.08
Longing, sure. Communication, yes. But sex? Either Howard is looking at art that I've unfortunately yet to see, his own definition of sex doesn't predetermine physical intimacy with another or he speaks in reverse-correlation like Yoda. Now, if he had posed the opposite (that sex is art) I would give the man a high-five and buy him a drink. Or, if he had stuck with the thought suggested in his posting's title I would read on without raising an eyebrow. Now, I'm hesitant to quote Woody Allen in anything relating to this subject, but play along. "Sex alleviates tension and love causes it", is focusing on the physical associations while a reverse quote claiming that sex causes tension and love alleviates it could be more of an emotional assessment. Metaphors aside, the two words should not be synonymous.
Art IS an expression of love. And passion, devotion, commitment and even obsession. It is powerful to feel or attempt to imagine an artist's engagement with their work of art and admire their dedication to this creative commitment and the focus of one's life on making profound, even poetic (in a way), personal statements. It must be self-satisfying, though the lives and psychiatrists of many acclaimed artists may testify otherwise, but is also at the same time very much for the enjoyment of others.
Now, to get away from the expression and focus on the engagement, while I can understand how the experience of an art museum could potentially be efficacious for the casual couple or a reinforcement for a pair of seasoned patrons, I know that I would just as soon read a book concurrently then try to pace my way through another gallery with somebody else. Meaning, I wouldn't at all. At least not from my experiences. Then again, I've yet to gaze at Van Gogh or read Lolita while holding the hand of a lover so perhaps those rosey-hued lenses would fit nicely; know where I can find a pair? Some things are better alone while others are not and its prudent to avoiding blending those two (see first paragraph).
Walking through a museum with my mother (yes, now we're about as far away from sex as you can get ... or are we?), who was the chauffer/tour guide/art historian and sandwhich distributor for me and my friends growing up, was about as awkward as agreeing with her on which clothing to buy from Filene's Basement. It's her fault I spent most of my childhood in plaid. She was an elementary school librarian who explained contemporary art or the Renaissance period the same way she would read Goodnight Moon to a semi-circle of soon-to-be-napping nose-pickers. Biographical information would be laced with critiques on Andy Warhol's need for a haircut and our pace would speed up whenever a statue bore its fruits for all to see as if any lingering looks would necessitate a stop at the confessional booths on our way back home. Because of this, I became practiced at the art of "getting lost" and would escape between Dada and Dali to wander around free from the bonds of maternal oppression.
And so, I'll cite Freud when expressing this continued desire to walk away from anyone that I know and purposefully lose myself in the halls and corridors of museums. Maybe for similar reasons that I gew up prefering to hike alone in the quiet woods all day over pick-up games in the street or that I resist group religious exercises and prefer solemn, individual communion, I also tend to approach galleries with a certain solitary sanctity of thought and reflection. Similar to spirituality, anyone aside from the artist/creator (and sometimes even them, too) is simply an outside observer contemplating something they may recognize but could never entirely understand. Despite the outward separation, it's this shared connection, sometimes overwhelming, with the passion or patience on display that I feel would be significantly lessened if it were to come secondary to the connection you might have with the cute-coed at your side making your stomache flip.
My sole attempt at love a la musee was while strategically following the most beautiful girl off-canvas in the Louvre a few months ago for far too long to admit comfortably. I paused where she paused and attempted to muse over her shoulder more than once. Right now, sitting in a humid classroom far from France, I can still smell her perfume, picture the green print on the sundress she wore and remember the way she walked from room to room (and feel the tension) ... but could not honestly claim to recall much in the way of the art that was hung on the walls. Must have been hypnotized by her smile.
I'm going to stop before this gets any more ridiculous.
... & our kids need to be a part of this.
... one more; do they put out wine and cheese, too? If so, Everyday Magic will be there.