Monday, December 29, 2008

The Glamourous World of Art Slides Dangerously Close to Pornography

That is a post title designed to enhance traffic. To really sucker people into my blog I have included this seductive photo of my naked dog.

The back story is that I had an artist cancel a show- very last minute- but being a woman of resilience I threw together a group show to open at the end of January...designed to take advantage of the Valentine's Day Holiday. The theme is "Love & Desire." So I braced myself for the submissions.

Today I was reprimanded by an artist for rejecting a piece that I felt was too explicit. I worry that the subtext to our disagreement is that the subject was homoerotic and that I am a prude when it comes to homoerotocism.

The truth is that the line between pornography and art is mighty thin and I am not always sure where it is drawn. Regardless of the subject of lust and the sex of the lustee, there is a point where the viewer no longer is invited to share the beauty of desire and merely becomes a voyeur.

But I also struggle with artists who ask us to look at the uncomfortable. While there are pieces I may not want to look at over my mantle, it does not mean they are without merit or meaning. At the other end of the spectrum are artists who vie to create the most novel or shocking image. After the novelty has worn off, what are we left with? Does the work of art still stand up as a piece of beauty? Or does it become a dated marker of the taboos of its day?

Sigh.... I wish I didn't have to think so much about this and could just accept this show as a real PR blockbuster. Just think of the headlines...."Gallery Director Busted for Peddling Porno in Main Street Shop. Mayor, in Adjacent Condo, is Disgusted."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Who Me?

Don Kreis tagged me (in another forum).... a term I am still coming to grips with. What exactly is tagging? But his terms are: "Once you've been tagged, you have to write a note with sixteen random things, shortcomings, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose sixteen people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. You have to tag the person who tagged you." I couldn't bring myself to force my friends to perform this exercise...... you know who you are. Get to work.

I am not usually big into these things, but a chance for self reflection can’t be all bad. These are not huge revelations, but they are the stuff that makes me sigh and shrug my shoulders about myself.

1. People think I am disciplined. The truth is that I am a creature of habit. Once I start doing something, I can't stop. I know this about myself.

2. I am petrified of snakes.

3. I have a very high palate, which caused problems when I use to play flute.

4. While we are on the medical stuff- I have a heart murmur too.

5. I wish I were a nicer person. That is a struggle for me. My mother is my role model.

6. Despite being a bit of a fainter when I see blood, I am very good in an emergency or in times of crisis. I react quickly and do what needs to be done. I hope this makes up for the fact that I am not always the nicest person.

7. I have very little to no sense of smell. Yet being a Chaffee, I love food and drink beyond compare.

8. I would like to walk from my house to Montreal. It is a dream, but I think it is doable.

9. I cry frequently while listening to stories on NPR. Actually, I just cry frequently.

10. In my heart I wish I believed in God. I think it might help me, but my head says "No can do."

11. Clutter has always been anathema to me. I can't think when my visual field is muddied.

12. I am a voracious reader.... sometimes indiscriminately so.

13. I am cyclically moody, unforgiving and suffer from terrible anxieties which make me unsuited for shacking up with. The rest of the time I am happy-go-lucky. I apologize to all past & present partners.

14. I am not at all sentimental... but I can be very highly symbolic.

15. I like cookies way better than cake, but maybe not as much as ice cream.

16. I have grown to love the birthmark on my arm. It feels like a part of my story.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pennies From Heaven

I went to a funeral yesterday for the husband of a woman I don't know well enough, but probably should. Her name is Marcia Herson. I met her about a year ago in conjunction with a show at my gallery.

I was drawn to her personality as much as her beautiful glass beads. Over the course of a few months of working on some projects together we got to know each other better. She taught herself jewelry making but her life was consumed with taking care of her elderly husband, who was nearly 20 years her senior. She talked, I listened. I could tell she loved him very deeply.

I shared with her that I had been widowed and that I understood her fear for her future. I think sometimes older people fail to understand that someone younger might have an experience to share that they have not yet gone through. It was an instant connect for us- the terrible sisterhood of being a widow.

The funeral was held at her Temple. I don't think I have ever been to a Temple. The casualness of the Rabbi and people felt different, but many of the trappings and readings felt very familiar. There was a lot of laughter while remembering Shelley Herson. Marcia stood to eulogize her husband in a show of bravery I never could have summoned. She told the stories of his handing out lucky pennies to friends, family and strangers. He would get addresses of customer service people at Comcast & PSNH to send them four leaf clovers from his yard. At the end of the service Marcia handed out two pennies to everyone and told them to "keep one for yourself and pass the other to someone else." I opted to give my second penny to my good friend, Louise, who turned 50 yesterday.

Today, while walking to to my car, I spotted several pennies in the snow by a parking meter. I walked past, but had to turn back to pick them up. I even had to kick a few which had become frozen into the snow. They seemed too highly symbolic to leave behind. I thought of Marcia & Shelley's magical marriage. Shoving them into my pocket as I continued on I had to smile and thought "I feel lucky." In light of the economy's effect on my business, I wondered where this optimism came from. I came to the quick conclusion that if you feel lucky- you are lucky.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Louise!

Louise turns 50 today... go wish her a Happy Birthday!

46% Of Women......

This isn't this weekend's snowstorm.... but, hey, they all look alike.

Yippee! I finally have Internet. It has been a week and 1/2 and I finally have it. Ironically the Sunday paper had a short article on how 46% of women would rather go without sex for two weeks than without Internet. For men- 30%. I suppose having no connection left me free to shovel the foot and 1/2 of snow that was dumped here. It sort of added insult to injury after the major ice storm.

But I am still glad to have Internet! Yippee!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Mother, My Self Redux

I gave my mother a 5 minute lesson in blogging and she is off and running. She loves photography- especially of her grandchildren and mushrooms so you can expect to see a lot of that in the future. She is retired so has a lot of time to spend on it too. Next thing you know she will probably out-widget me.

Go check out her blog!

I love my mother.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The First Dog

You know what I think? I think the rest of the country should stay out of the first family's decision on what kind of dog to get.

That is way too personal a thing to get a committee involved in- especially a committee of over 200 million. The Obama family has to live with this decision long after they leave office. They should decide. It is a long term commitment and one that should be done out of love rather than obligation.

Whether they chose a mutt, a purebred, a golden doodle or a fish I will be watching to make sure they treat the animal with dignity. Beyond that- it is their choice. Period.

Henry and his elephant having a private moment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doing The Right Thing

I am trying this post her before I put it on my business blog. I feel as if it might be a little incendiary... so I am looking for feedback. My friends who love me despite my flaws, know my penchant for getting on a soapbox. I have tried to take the hectoring tone out of this post. Let me know what you think!

I have recently begun to read about the Buying Local movement. It is far more complex than I imagined bringing in the opinions of economists and talk of issuing local credit cards. It requires an understanding of how money works and moves through a community.

It is, nevertheless, an idea I feel whose time has come. It is an idea in response to the sprawl of markets getting larger and less responsive to its consumers and to the world they inhabit. It is something that my mother instilled in me as a young girl. She would have me walk down to the local clothing & shoe stores at the beginning of each school year. I picked out what I needed at these stores and they would bill my mother. She was buying goods and services from her neighbors.

I currently serve on the board of Main Street Concord, Inc., an organization that is devoted to the historic preservation of my city through economic development. Main Street communities can be found throughout the US. They are the more public face of the National Historic Trust. One of their basic tenets is to support your local businesses. People might recognize these communities by their updated building facades, noticeable hustle & bustle and a certain amount of je ne sais quoi ...... civic pride.

But buying local goes beyond civic pride, it is about economic determination. It is about taking the money you earn and making a difference. By buying local you can "maximize local ownership and minimize the leakage of income, wealth and jobs" in the words of a friend who wrote so eloquently about it. Locally owned businesses are owned and run by your neighbors, who in turn will spend their money supporting other businesses, and perhaps even buying your goods and services (thanks Mom!). That money also goes into the tax base which, as much as we might hate government we all love the services they provide- snow removal, garbage removal, street lights, educating children, fire & police protection and on and on. It keeps all that money circulating in your economic ecology instead of sending it away.

But what is local? Is it your town, your state, your country? I think it is all of those things, but more importantly it is independently owned businesses. It spans the market from your neighborhood farmer to your neighborhood bookstore and even art galleries! When your money is spent at small, independent stores it goes towards the employment of people at a fair wage rather than into the pockets of shareholders. Can you always buy this way? Sometimes it is really tough and occasionally impossible. I don't beat myself up about choices I make, but it is something I always keep in the back of my mind- money spent locally is money well spent.

There are lots of resources out there to tell you why buying local is important such as BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), Worldwatch Institute, or National Cooperative Business Association. Check it out yourself.