Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. - Charlie Chaplin

Friday, December 10, 2010

icing on the cake

I started writing one thing but found it had no legs what-so-ever.  So, I thought about what makes me happy and away I went.

Wayne Thiebaud

I didn't discover the LA artist Wayne Thiebaud until college, luckily early in college, via the Art Conservation Club.  We took a trip to DC for the sole purpose of gallery hopping.  I'm not sure if it was coincidental or had a reason,but three different galleries had works by Thiebaud:  The Corcoran, The Phillips Collection and another one I can't recall to save my life.  Funny thing is, I almost didn't go on the trip due to the "narrow scope" of seeking out only this one artist's work that I've never seen and didn't know a thing about.   

Thankfully some divine intervention put me in the van on its way to DC, the lone male (someone had to be) and lone freshman.  The only thing I had to go on of what to expect was the president of the club's description, "he painted what he loved and what made him happy".  So as long as what made him happy wasn't a pile of poo, it couldn't be too bad.    

Well, not much has to be said for what came from the trip.  I became an instant admirer, for one and got an itch to explore more galleries, experience more artists I never heard of.  I had been such a strict realist with my artwork that I dismissed too many artists, especially those modernists (psh).  Now I have a calendar from MoMA on my office wall.  We also visited the National Gallery of Art and the Renwick Gallery of Art; it was at the Renwick I discovered a piece I've talked about ever since visiting:

Ghost Clock
1985 Wendell Castle
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Change can bring happiness and snatch people out of the ruts in the road. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the great american

Right now I'm thinking of the many Christmas seasons when my parents bundled my brother and I up and headed out to Hershey Park.  Yes, Hershey (a usual summer destination, with roller coasters, etc.) Park in 30 degree or below temps.  Every year, since I can remember, the park turned their entrance "village", stands and vendor areas into a glowing, sparkling, semi-chocolate-induced Christmas wonderland.  We'd make our way from the parking lot, into the toasty, chocolate scented "Chocolate World", humming the "Hershey Song" between chattering teeth.  I don't ever recall there being a charge to enter, but of course they got ya with hot chocolate, cookies and all the "Hersheyana" you can stand.  My parents weren't as hesitant to satiate our nagging for it either, as I'm pretty sure they liked it as much as we did.   

It was only a few years ago that the Hershey Company closed its factory in Reading, PA.  This is where York Peppermint Patties, Zagnut, Jolly Ranchers and 5th Avenue bars were made for 23 years.  Next time you go to tear into the wrapper of one notice "Made in Mexico".  This jaded me more then I thought it might.  While my chocolate dipped memories are still intact they can be personified by the lost chocolate bar  in the back of the refrigerator or cupboard, found when the craving for it came, opened up to a disappointingly white, chalky film formed on the outside.  Bottom line, "Damn it!  Why'd they have to go and spoil it for me!".
Two years ago my mom asked if we wanted to go out to the Christmas Village at Hershey.  She was feeling nostalgic and suddenly I was 8 again.  I didn't think a minute about the factories or the workers who lost their jobs.  I sank into the dreamland that made me smile ear to ear, wanting, more then anything, to share this with my wife.  We went and it really was a great time, very much like remember, just smaller feeling.   

So it wasn't until I sat and thought about it about a day ago that I got into a quandary of "Wow, Hershey sucks for doing what they did, but I have fun when I'm at their Park!", up against the fact that they now may move the whole production out of Hershey, PA, if the union can't strike a deal, keeping a new facility nearby.  The need for the new facility makes sense, the idea that the workers and the people of the town of Hershey come a distant second, feels like a low-blow to an ailing economy.   

Kind of feels like deciding to shoot Old Yeller.