Friday, August 29, 2008

Art in our daily life.

Having my workplace saturated with the artwork of a talented painter has brought about a keen awareness of the role art can play in our lives. It adds a texture far beyond the colors, shapes and emotions portrayed on canvas, paper, wood or stone.

Today, I rushed past a violinist playing in front of the grocery store where I bought my breakfast. It reminded me of the experiment I read about last year where a world class violinist played several exquisite pieces of music in a subway. The question being posed in this experiment: "In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"

The answer was mostly no. Reading the article, I can remember not being surprised. Jeff Hengst often talks about setting the stage for people to enjoy art. People have to be prepared for a moment of aesthetic arrest. If they aren't, they shut down to it rather than be unexpectedly overwhelmed. Context is always important. Jeff sometimes jokes that the reason he started little Red Studio was to have a good place to show his paintings, not liking the sterile-white-walled-gallery model of show casing art.

And now the Spa is another place where people can relax into the experience of contemplating art. Some paintings, I have found, need more than a minute of your time to be fully experienced. In the Spa, people have the time gaze lazily or intently at a piece of art, as their interest dictates. And I am lucky to have the art constantly changing. Every Art Talk night that Jeff hosts on Tuesdays leaves me a surprise on Wednesday when I come in. At least two of the dozen paintings hanging in the spa get changed out, and I can experience a new atmosphere. Sometimes I have to remind him that he hasn't changed things up enough. Sometimes I ask for a painting to stay for a while longer. Having the art change regularly keeps me engaged and excited about coming to work far better than vacation or family photos.

While I felt a pang of guilt at the time for squandering a chance to listen to lovely music. Upon arriving at the Spa, I couldn't remain mired in those feelings. Not surrounded by all the different emotions and colors vying for my attention. But it did cause me to search through the CD collection for violin concertos.

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