Art attack raises blood pressureWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
We give the most complicated concepts perversely brief, three-letter names:
If these elusive entities carried labels as long as their definitions are fluid, spelling bees would be mind-punishing marathons.
Art played a central role in my weekend. Friday, we drove to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which was in Ann Arbor, and did feature art, but proved anything but fair. As we perused the scores of booths, admiring the watercolors, sculptures in everything from metal to wax, fabrics and other creations, a small coal of resentment began to burn inside me. It was incredible to view the stunning collection of human creativity; it was galling to observe the prices being asked for scraps of driftwood and paint on canvas.
I called it Painter’s Paradox; an opportunity to bring one’s art to the masses, while pricing it to the exclusion of all but the wealthiest. Price tags in the thousands were common. Price tags in the hundreds were the norm.
A great number of families walked the art fair, and I wondered what message the younger observers were taking away. The magnificent chance to share the wonder of art was beaten into submission by the will of commerce.
I do not wish all artists to be of the starving variety, but to make acres of art inaccessible to the average home seems elitist and counterproductive to the gifts these people have nurtured.
Did it cost that painter $5,000 to make her masterpiece of black triangles streaked with angry red slashes, or was she hoping to make 10 quick sales and vacation the rest of the year? I do not know; maybe Crayons are going on the black market for $700 each. Is there a man set up in Ann Arbor’s alleys, opening a trench coat to reveal Jazzberry Jam for $600, Magic Mint for $800, buy both and receive Crab Claw Red for just $300?
I enjoyed mental visions of walking back to my car after all the people had left the streets and driving over and through every booth, smashing the corrupt system to a pulp and forcing it to start over. I envisioned myself as a beret-clad revolutionary, grinding $6,500 oil paintings and $4,000 watercolors under the wheels of working-class justice.
More than a few times, my wife caught me humming a forced medley of ”Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner and John Lennon’s ”Power to the People.”
Saturday, we visited the Toledo Museum of Art, which features super-sized colorful banners reading, ”Come on in to your museum” on the Monroe Street entrance.
I could feel my pallet, and my palette, cleansing.
What a wonder Edward Drummond Libbey and his wife bequeathed us. Picasso. Van Gogh. Pollack. Rodin. Warhol. O’Keefe. Scores more. All on display, and all for free. No admission charge.
The galleries hold enough works to enthrall one’s imagination and intellect for days. It’s overwhelming, trying to take it all in, this major, world-class gift. And while you can’t take any of it home to hang crookedly above your fireplace, the experience leaves you richer in ways a $3,000 tie-dyed mitten will not.
My impressions can be summed up with the simplest words.
Ann Arbor Art Fair: Bad.
Toledo Museum of Art: Wow.
Michael S. Miller is Editor in Chief of Toledo Free Press.
He may be contacted at (419) 241-1700 or by e-mail at email@example.com.