Jungle Fever

When you’re looking for art, there’s only one thing to know. How does it make you feel?

New York City, December, 2010. It was a bitter cold Friday morning, and the last day of a 3-day trip. I had a couple of hours to kill before my bus home to Boston.

So I went to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art.

I waited in line forever to check my bag and coat, then I took the elevator to start at the top. Because now there wasn’t much time.

The museum was packed. I wondered about, stopping here and there. And then I saw it. Henri Rousseau’s, “The Dream.”

It was like a movie scene when a person stands still and people move around in blurred fast motion. The person feels alone in the crowd. That was me. I don’t know how long I stood staring at the Rousseau. It’s a HUGE painting (almost 7 x 10 feet!) and I was lost in it.

Jungle fever

Flashback

Flashback to the painting studio in art school. I pictured myself in the clothes I used to wear. A classmate (Barbara?) was painting a jungle scene, à la Rousseau. My own painting was a portrait of a paper maché bird on a square canvas. (My preference of drawing and painting within squares must have started around then and I still paint birds.)

After art school, life happened —husband, jobs, children, house, housework, social life — did I mention children? All good and happy but I didn’t paint much. (My fault really because there are no excuses. If I wanted to, I would have. Sorry. I digress.) Paint dried up in unused tubes and my brushes collected dust. Sigh.

Right before that trip in 2010, I started painting again. Not much, but whenever I could squeeze it into the rest of my life.

Now it IS my life. (but that’s another blog post.)

Jungle Fever

Jungle sounds were playing in my head.

I identified with Rousseau painting “The Dream” a hundred years ago in 1910. (Wait. What? That sounds ridiculous. It’s Rousseau!)

I know what it’s like to have a blank canvas or a piece of paper and some paint, and an idea. And after a while, magic! There’s a painting or a drawing. That’s how I identified with Rousseau.

Had “The Dream” influenced me back then? Maybe. Probably. Definitely.

The charms of nature inspire me. I always seem to paint vegetation — leaves, flowers, and vegetables. Sometimes realistic and sometimes, not so much. Always nature in some form.

Earth to Ani

How long was I was standing there? Who knows, but human voices became clear around me as jungle sounds faded. It was almost time for my bus. I awakened from my “Dream.”

A matter of the art

Recently, a friend of mine told me she wanted to buy some art while on vacation. “How can I tell if the art is good?” she asked me.

At first I didn’t know how to answer her.  But then I remembered the Rousseau.

“Ask yourself,” I told her, “How does it make me feel?” And you’ll know.

And that friends, is all there is to it. It’s a matter of the heart. Or art.

 


 

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