Well, I wore jeans yesterday. And a sweatshirt the day before that. It seems summer is inching toward the door, but not without a good-bye. This Labor Day weekend was one of the best I’ve ever had. My whole family was up north and even though it seemed every house on the lake except ours caught the Northern Lights, my days were just as bright and thrilling. In large part because my whole family was there AND a handful of my beloved cousins, aunts, and uncles. Some of whom I haven’t seen since before Covid. It was a happy, happy reunion.
We celebrated by letting the patriarchs (my dad and his brother) make us a pancake breakfast. Delighted chatter bubbled and bounced, a dozen conversations happening at once, but you know I managed to ask a few people about their favorite art. As per usual, they all reserve the right to change their minds or add to their list at any time.
Amy: Amy didn’t hem or haw. “The first thing that comes to mind is The Pissing Boy in Belgium,” she laughed. (We were all a little giddy with togetherness.) The statue is aptly titled Manneken Pis (Dutch for “Little Pissing Man.”) She appreciates its humor, but semi-seriously noted there’s more to it if you think about it. The boy commemorates our basic need for water and relief. Repeat. Our cousin Tom chimed in to inform us the statue is in honor of a little boy who reportedly saved the town when it was on fire by… using the fire as a urinal. The statue has become a symbol of perseverance. Through war, theft, vandalism… still he stands. For over 400 years the boy has been peeing before tourists and Belgians alike, refreshing the people with his unassuming posture and cool, clear stream.
Tom: Tom loves the fine arts. He is a writer and dancer and appreciator of all creativity, so I was not surprised that he had an answer at the ready: The Kiss by Auguste Rodin. “It is romantic and sensual. The subjects are only focused on each other. Nothing else exists to them in that moment.” The statue depicts a scene from Dante’s Inferno, in which a woman falls in love with her brother-in-law. The sculpture was scandalous when it was first unveiled. Many argued it was too scandalous and tried to ban it, but its beauty along with Rodin’s talent, could not be denied. Rodin ended up making multiple versions of it for the many art collectors (and finally) museums who recognized the piece as passionate and skillful rather than obscene.
Amit: I was unfamiliar with the artist Amit mentioned as one of his favorites, so he pulled up some of Alex Grey’s work and passed his phone around. None of us knew of him (except my brother who immediately recognized Grey’s work from Tool’s album cover.) What a fantastic treat to learn about this guy (and over delicious blueberry pancakes, no less!) His work is intricate and a little trippy. We all loved the tree shown below, leading to a sidebar conversation about other trees in art. Is a penchant for colorful trees genetic? It would seem so.
Jamie: Jamie is an architecture and interior design person. She loves buildings and structure and the aesthetics that go with them. She has a fantastic eye for beauty, which not everybody does. Me, for instance. (I’m looking at you, entire collection of Goya paintings. Are you beautiful? Ugly? Both?) Jamie always, always knows if something is lovely or not. Here she is holding her favorite paintings du jour: the one on the right was done by our grandma and the smaller one on the left is one she found at a thrift store to feature by our grandma’s painting. Jamie loved how beautifully the gold background of the thrift store painting complimented the few bits of gold in our grandma’s.
As with my friends featured in the last post, asking “what’s your favorite piece of art?” initiated fantastic conversation within my family. Everyone chimed in! Comments like “I don’t care for impressionism.” and “I prefer 3D art.” and “We just went to a great art museum in Denver!” swirled around like steam off our coffee and warmed me just as much. Family, friends, art… all my favorites!