It was December, 2010, in New York City — a kind of jungle.
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 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.
Flashback to the painting studio in art school. I pictured myself in 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 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!)
Bit, here’s the thing. 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.”
When you’re looking for art, there’s only one thing to know.
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.