I like art and art shows. Not so much the fancy ones where we wear ties and drink champagne. They’re okay, but I’m talking about the ones in tents, where the artists hawk their own creations. I’m all for galleries and museums, but kicking back while roaming through the tents in flip-flops, shorts, a tee-shirt, and ball cap, with a cold one in-hand is way more fun. There’s always plenty of unhealthy food and marginal live-music to boot. It’s a gas, both figuratively and physically.
This is where I find art that I am willing and able to buy. I have a few pieces from shows hanging in my room now. I like to talk about art. I’m an art (and rain) lover. I am not going to deny being an artist, but I want to focus on the work of others. One piece in particular – for a specific reason.
Several years ago I went to a big art show in Pensacola, Florida. It was an outdoor, wing-ding affair and a cut above others I’ve attended. Now, most people who know me might not describe me a sensitive guy. I have no idea why, but crusty old fart is more likely. They’d be wrong. In any case, comparisons with Jack Nicholson movie roles are common. I cried when old yeller died and sobbed pitifully at the movie Love Story. However, for this image, you can picture Jack if you want. In my left hand was a plastic cup containing a yellowish liquid that could’ve been extracted from the hang-down of a diabetic horse. This they passed-off as beer. In my right hand was a heart-attack-on-a-stick with mustard. It was a hot, sunny day and I wore my Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball cap.
We walked around looking at all the stuff. I met one artist whose studio was in New Orleans and who shared my name. He did a lot of hot, multi-dimensional creations. They were kind of big or I would’ve bought one. Moving on, I approached another tent. This was an artist from Houston, Texas. He was not there, but his wife was minding the store pending his return. His beautiful paintings were hanging there – waiting for me.
As I strolled through looking at his work, one piece about 18-inches square caught my eye. I just stopped and I stared. It was a court-room scene with a young girl. Her back was to me. Gradually, a strange feeling come up from the earth. It entered and possessed me. As I became more emotional, I started to tear-up. There was nothing particularly sad about the painting. Since I still had my wits, I looked around hoping no one noticed my loss of control – how embarrassing! Geez, Bill, suck it up dude! Get a grip. It was just a painting; one of hundreds I’d looked at that day. Maybe it was the sausage or maybe the lousy beer. Perhaps I’d had too much sun. Down deep, I wondered then and for a long time afterward if I could possibly have been affected by the painting. Does that actually happen?
More than a year later, I learned a new word that explains my reaction to the painting. It had never happened to me before, and has not since. The word is duende. It is a noun meaning the mysterious power of art to deeply move a person. There is a lot more to and behind this word. You can check it out for yourself by reading the wiki, if you’re curious. Apparently, artists sometimes experience this with their own work. However, if you’re familiar with this, or had a similar event happen, I would love to hear from you.