A Van Gogh-ing
My wife and I are aesthetically simpatico, mostly celebrating (or at least affirming each other’s right to have specific tastes) the same kinds of art, music, movies, TV, etc. When we diverge it usually has to do with a high-falutin, high country of the mind conclusion or two that I’ve made about how “deep” something or other is and how intellectually sharp I am to recognize it.
And while I agree that it’s okay, perhaps preferrable in certain cases, for the arts to be difficult and challenge a person on multiple levels, I know deep in my heart that beauty is beauty, truth is truth, and when a thing is authentic, consistent in its very nature, it can be enjoyed, nay celebrated, for what it is. For example, the Bee-Gees. Don’t have to like ‘em, but you gotta admit…
But when we heard about the van Gogh immersive extravaganza show coming to Cleveland, I did say I wasn’t interested in the least, in the face of her enthusiasm to immediately get tickets. Even copped a little ‘tude. Likened it to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra holiday show. Even though I’ve never been and have contempt prior to investigation (but I think I’m right anyway).
I had the sense that the van Gogh thing would be too lite for my taste and crassly commercial. I put it squarely in middle-brow territory, which I avoid whenever possible. Kind of like why I resist cover bands—things that aspire to be something they are not and never will be. In this case, the pictures jetting from projectors will never be paintings.
So, I forgot about it. Then it came and she went, and came back absolutely raving and told me I should really go. Still, I resisted. Still, she said go. I got a little bitchy about it. Then I caught myself and realized that if I went and didn’t like it, so what? Out $50, which isn’t nothing, but will have had at least shown myself to be an open-minded and responsive husband.
So I went, alone on a Tuesday afternoon. And I liked it. Parts of it made me smile and ooh-ing and aahing did in fact take place. Took some pictures at weird angles, bouncing off mirrors and such. Drew the line at tapping my toes to the music (but there I go again with the subtle, pseudo-intellectual digs). Look, it was an unapologetic extravaganza; a mood piece that touched some part of my brain’s pleasure center. Kind of like the goal of psychedelic trips: alter your reality in wondrous ways. Yes, I was altered and it was a hell of a lot safer. I just took it in.
I’m telling you, the part where roots were rising to indigenous rhythms and then burst into Irises was fantastic. I even stayed until I saw (heard, felt) it again just to make sure. At one point I walked the perimeter, close to the walls, and took the room itself in while things exploded, rotated, filled the floor, faded, revealed, circled, twisted, came, and went. I’m glad I went.
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