Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Art Has Many Purposes

As a little girl I was always intrigued by a painting that hung in my family’s dining room. It featured some very old sailing ships in a dead calm sea. Later in life, I became the trustee of this painting and I took it to be cleaned. Wow, the results were amazing. Not only was the signature revealed by the beautiful nuances of color came bursting forth, and now you can make out the tiny little pipe and the sheepish grin on one of the sailors. The work was painted by J.C. Schotel, a 19th century Dutch painter that is considered one of the top Dutch seascape painters of his day.

Another intriguing aspect of this painting is that is painted on two joined wooden planks. And like one of those wonderful movie mysteries there is a painting underneath the painting.

No doubt growing up with such a wonderful painting in my house helped me to appreciate the arts at an early age. There was other art around too, but nothing enraptured me so much as this one painting of the sea.

Perhaps nothing which depicts the mindset of a culture is as lasting, or as portable, and thus accessible as its art. This painting handed down for at least one generation, perhaps two, was right in my living room. I didn’t even have to travel to a museum to see it, much less another continent.

Which brings me to my point: Art has many purposes. Sometimes we look at it as purely decorative or as a story teller. Sometimes art stuns us with the obvious attributes of the artist’s skill; sometimes it serves to boost our ego because of its price tag. Sometimes art serves as an icon of a culture nuance; many times it appreciates and thus serves as an investment. It can be both beautiful and utilitarian. It can be thought provoking, disturbing or calming. It can be colorful, or bland, or stark. It can cause a mood change in us or just remind us of another time, another place. It can be figurative, abstract or representational. Art can be about personal statment as in jewelry. But one thing, art is rarely boring. Surround yourself with more art today!—Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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