It has been a busy visit with step-daughter and grandson and I, grandma, have been too busy or scattered to write in any lengthy or coherent manner.
original plan for today fell apart and instead we went to the Knoxville Museum
of Art where we saw a fabulous retrospective of Josh Simpson Art Glass and we also looked at a
selection of recent acquisitions
by the museum.
The original plan for today fell apart and instead we went to the Knoxville Museum of Art where we saw a fabulous retrospective of Josh Simpson Art Glass and we also looked at a selection of recent acquisitions by the museum.
The Knoxville art museum is a nice size with just enough to see without being overwhelmed. At least it is just the right size that I am not overwhelmed. I tend to be the kind of observer of art who can only absorb a small amount on any given day and am prone to sitting for long periods of time in front of a piece, letting it slowly sink into my consciousness.
I used to feel that museum trips were rather wasted on me because after a limited number of works I would grow restless and need a break, unable to absorb or look at more. But I have grown to accept my slow looking even as a part of me admires the quick appraisal and stamina of someone like G who can take a quick look and decide, like, don’t like, and move on endlessly.
Today I got stuck in the first gallery looking at a painting by William Wiley called DOUBLE BASS FOR CB
I really don’t know anything about the artist, and don’t recall that I have seen another picture by him or at least not one that I committed to memory. But this painting really struck my imagination.
In the painting, in the lower left corner there is a small portrait of a man playing a double bass; apparently a portrait of Brancusi. Surrounding the bassist was a large whitish gray area where shapes and formulae and words were floating as if in a muddle of thoughts and inspirations. I don’t really know what the artist intended and I did not read the note until after I had looked at the painting for some time but it initially struck me that this was the space of the mind as opposed to the solitary musician and the solitude of the music and as opposed to the outside portion of the painting which was an over-lush view of the natural world in all its greenness and ruggedness.
My first impressions were that the white rectangle represented the kind of random connections the mind makes as it adjusts to the spell of music, or at least the kind of random thoughts that flit through my mind as I make the transition from the fragmentation and overstimulation of daily life and settle into the flow of the music. As I looked further at the square I saw the formulae and the random shapes, yes, some of which reflect Brancusi’s sculpture, and also the practical problems of life, of at least man-made life in a man made world.
Contrast this white space, this cloud of chaotic thought and inspiration and problems, with the other two extremes of life: the other as represented by the world of nature, and the inner life as represented by the musician and the world of art. I saw it as quiet spirituality versus the violence of the wild, with the artificial construct of the man-made world in between in which we live on a daily basis.
The portrait of the bassist was so calm and composed, seemingly only a small part of the whole, and yet it is this small core which supports all the rest. The natural scene was overwrought, reflecting more on that earlier view of nature as wild and uncontrolled and dangerous, reminiscent more of the medieval view of the wild as dark and dangerous than of the reflective embracing of nature that came out of the Romantic movement. Yet nature is still uncontrolled. And yet, in our own artificially constructed world we need to experience and be aware of both the need for art and occasionally the respect, love, and fear of nature.
It was really a most thought-provoking painting. In my own greedy way, I feel I need to look at it more. And yet those few minutes were enough