Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Art Minus Commerce = This Entry

Who is this painting supposed to be? Take a guess. It’s not Grampa Munster, as a friend of mine once supposed.

It’s not important who it’s supposed to be.

What’s important is that my dad painted it in either his late teens or early twenties and that I grew up with the painting lurking about in various areas throughout my childhood.

When my dad was young, he had artistic aspirations, but gave them up entirely to pursue a life of business. The desk job is what was important to him – the art was expendable. You may view the painting and think he made the correct choice, and for all I know, he probably did.

For most of my life, what my dad didn't know is that the painting meant a lot to me. It haunted me. Creeped me out. Stuck in my brain. In its own peculiar way, it was the Mona Lisa of my childhood.

A few years back I was on the phone with him. I asked about the piece and wondered whatever happened to it.

He responded, “That ugly thing!?!? It was probably thrown away…or hopefully burned.”

I became indignant. “Why? It was something you created. Who would do something like that? If you’ve still got it, I’d like to have it.”

“Why?!” He was incredulous in his reply.

“Because it was always there”, I replied.

He laughed, inwardly I believe.

A few days later a package showed up on my doorstep and inside was the painting.

His assertion about it being trashed was nonsense and humble deception. It’s a far cry from Da Vinci, but to me – and likely only to me – the piece holds more importance than The Last Supper.

The painting is a personal, constant reminder of the power of art. Art needn’t affect everyone and much art created often affects no one. But if a piece of art affects just one person (even, perhaps, if that person is its creator), its job is done.

I am not the wild success I’d prefer or hope to be. I continue working with the vain hope that I will create something that will affect many.

Will these aspirations ever be realized? Maybe I shouldn’t lose sleep over it. (For whatever it’s worth, I don’t.) But I made a movie, which I know worked for more than a few people. I wrote a play two years ago, which while not financially successful or critically acclaimed (same as the movie), managed to entertain quite a few crowds. I have this blog. Ahem...

Somehow my “art” (and oh boy do I hate the implications of that word) has affected some people...and that’s gotta be worth gold in this emotionally bankrupt world. People strike me as being either afraid of feeling or they’re deeply hung up on wanting to feel. They’re often ruined by either extreme.

I hope I’m somewhere in between the two. Maybe - hopefully - I’ve misjudged, and so is everyone else.

When I look at that dodgy painting my dad made – when he was far younger than I am now – I feel something. Something deep and truthful. He made it at a time when I gather he was a person of hope and ideals. I will not judge my father, and say that he isn’t today, but what would it be like for him to embrace the part of himself that he likely doesn’t think about anymore or even admit ever existed?

I believe it would be so cool for him to make another painting.

And if it showed up on my doorstep - and even if I was the only person ever to see it - it would affect me more than anything I’d ever see for the rest of my life.