Saturday, September 17, 2011

Picasso Exhibit, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

     The Picasso exhibit at the De Young Museum includes sketches, paintings, bronze sculptures and photographs of his life. Picasso balanced on the pinnacle of art fame and insight, lechery and freedom. Myths about his life have seeped into the unconscious of our culture, coloring the view of artists worldwide. In some of the photos he looks like an unabashed, egotistical blowhard and some of his work certainly has the feeling of a guy exploring sex addiction. Regardless, what struck me was just how damn much fun he was having in the process, which is admirable. He didn’t look like a guy who fretted about what other people think and he was quite willing to poke fun at himself. I’ve struggled to understand Picasso since high school, but in a show that included a larger picture of his life I finally quit trying. I enjoyed the humor, marveled at the angst and had one of those ah-ha moments in front of his self-portrait that showed his face twisted up like a deviant behind a naked woman. Drawing himself in a humorous light made him likeable beyond the obvious creepiness. The anatomically correct pregnant bronze goat with a bit of pipe in it's butt made just about everyone who wandered around its backside smile. For me that small detail was one of Picasso’s finer moments. I wish I’d seen it when I was college. I finally acquired a glimpse of understanding about Picasso through a goat's asshole. His entire big life comes through his artwork and he was the first to tattle on himself. Maybe some of our reverence is simply because he kept no secrets. 

     After the Picasso exhibit my sister and I walked through the Red Umbrellas art festival in front of the museum. They are a group she would like to join so she talked to several people involved. I stopped to read an artist’s statement that said he had discovered a new kind of freedom in his latest series, the same theme I found in the Picasso exhibit and a feeling I hope to gain. For many years I’ve produced commissions, designing paintings based on committee decisions.  I rarely find the time or possibly the courage to step out of the box and paint whatever comes to mind. I bought one of Kelvin Curry’s small pastel drawings to take with me to Hawaii, as a reminder of the feeling I left the park with last Sunday. Through art we can connect to the big picture.

     In order to complete the deal for the drawing we had to walk to the edge of the concourse. Selling artwork in Golden Gate Park falls under the same restrictions as soliciting money for causes or making a drug deal. While it felt slightly surreptitious to stroll away from the crowd to hand over the cash I’m glad my drug of choice these days is artwork, even if we don't have the freedom to buy and sell it in the park.  

        My sister and I stopped at the dahlia garden near the conservatory with the sun hovering just above the tree line. The late afternoon angle of light made the giant blooms glow like fireworks. A drum circle struck an unfamiliar rhythm nearby, as if the flowers wrote their own eclectic score. 
        I’ve saved enough to buy three months of time to create with no agenda, whether it is brave, stupid, audacious or inspired really doesn't matter.


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