Pivotal Event #14 On My Wall

By no means do I consider myself to be a “collector” of art, but over the years a number of personally significant and lovely pieces of art have collected me, so to speak. They have found their way into my life as gifts from fellow artists, as trades, and as purchases. Each arrival of a new piece of art into my life qualifies as a pivotal event—it marks some deepening and expanding of my appreciation and gives me something wonderful to live with and be inspired by. I treasure all those pieces and I treasure my relationships with their creators. In fact, I’m thinking that one day maybe I’ll write a newsletter simply about what art hangs on my walls and why. (Sound interesting?) For this newsletter, I thought I would choose just one piece of art and tell you about why it marks a pivotal event in my life. Perhaps that will give a sense of why I value all the pieces in my art “collection.”

I had been following a Vancouver artist from afar—reading his online posts and watching for news of his shows across North America. We had never met. In 2018, I saw a notice of his upcoming artist talk at a local gallery and I decided to attend, to lend my support to a fellow artist (it’s always nice to have a good turnout at these things!) and to see his works in person. I did not plan to buy a piece—I was only attending to show my support. When I arrived at the gallery, I saw that his latest series was on display. I was so moved by the series. One piece in particular resonated especially deeply with me. I talked with the gallery owner and before I knew it he had agreed to keep the piece overnight so that I could sleep on the idea of purchasing it. The next day I walked into the gallery and bought it.

Here’s why this purchase was so significant to me: It reconnected me to a part of artist cycle that I don’t often get to participate in, which is being the end point, the consumer. I got the chance to see how an artist’s work could resonate deeply with someone the artist did not know. As an artist, it has always been a bit of a mystery to me about my own paintings–where they go, who they affect, and how they affect the viewers. By being a consumer myself I got to be reminded of the power of art that is not related to knowing all about the making of it.

In a way, this experience of resonating deeply with a painting reminded me of walking into a gallery and seeing a Monet for the first time in person after seeing so many of his works in books. I experienced a difference in my feelings of beauty, awe, and melancholy. But unlike viewing the Monet, I did not have to stop at viewing this painting for a few minutes. I could follow up that emotional path up with a purchase. I could live with the piece and I could also support that artist to continue making art. And what a very deep satisfaction that after so many years of financial struggle, I could walk into a gallery, fall in love with a painting, and purchase it, paying full price.

I’ve lived with this piece of art for two years and I’m still in love with it. Every time I look at it, I’m a better person, a more appreciative artist, and a more grateful recipient of the beauty of art.

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