Monday, May 15, 2006

What is Art?

What really sets humans apart from other animals? Is it our opposable thumbs? Our ability to reason? Our spiritual nature? Or is it man's desire and ability to create art? Who knows -- probably a combination of all those things -- but I do know that without art, in all of its forms, life would be pretty boring.

The Oklahoma City Art Museum does a spectacular job. From their building to their collections to their special exhibits to their gift store to their cafe to their film program -- it's top quality all the way. It's the one thing I've enjoyed the most about living here and for a mere $40 annual membership, you can go as often as you want, so you can take your time and spend 4 hours or 30 minutes...I like that. Plus, they've kept "modern art" at a minimum, thank goodness, because that stuff usually just irritates me.

Yesterday I went to see one of their rotating exhibits, "The Tempest", which is a collection of maritime paintings. Very stormy, ships-bashing-on-rugged-cliffs, ominous clouds and killer waves kind of stuff. The oldest painting there was 400 years old. When I look at a painting I spend more time thinking about the artist than I do the actual subject matter. How in the world do they do that? How do they capture an image with light and shape and perspective using paint brushes? Those paintings that don't show any brush strokes amaze me the most. Oops...embarrassing flashback of the alarm going off at the Smithsonian when I got too close to the painting because I couldn't see the brush strokes...

The OKC Museum of Art has the world's largest collection of Chihuly glass and I've decided that every last piece of it is a phallic symbol... but it's pretty!


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