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Saturday, April 16, 2011

When I Don't Get It

I don't think I'm alone when I say some times I don't get it. For example, I was walking through an art gallery yesterday and there were several exhibits that defied any explanation I could offer. When this happens, my internal conversation often ends up matching the kind of day I'm having. Because yesterday was sort of an in-between day, I didn't get as discouraged about my lack of understanding as I would have on a bad day or as glib about it as I would have on a good day. But as I struggled to understand what I was looking at, I began to wonder about the conversations some of you have when you don't get it.

This also happens to me quite a bit with poetry. And even though I've spent many years studying and playing jazz, I've had moments there as well. My wife will challenge me when I'm listening to something she finds un-listenable; even when I agree, I sometimes don't admit it. I recently read that "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce is considered a book only scholars actually read. I was relieved to know that; I've been unsuccessful reading "Ulysses" and have had my fair share of trouble even with Joyce's short stories.

I'm reasonably sure my intelligence puts me somewhere on the bell curve. In other words, I'm not as smart as the top 5% of the population, nor am I as limited as the bottom 5%. So I'm left wondering: When I don't get it, how many other people don't? How often will any of us willingly admit that we don't get it? And how does not getting it make us feel?




  1. A HA! I always thought that was true...that sometimes you don't admit it! Actually, I was struggling the same way at the art exhibit. I'm not sure anyone could "get" what many artists have in their minds when they are creating the work, unless they volunteer the insight....so the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. The pineapple held behind the woman's back in the changing seasons to me represented the isolation one feels when out of one's natural environment, and the attempt to disguise that isolation by keeping it hidden from others (behind the back). But the artist may have had a completely different view...maybe it is a comment on our food systems...how we are eating imported foods trucked all over the world and completely out of season, and how that is detrimental to the environment. Like this blog, it seems that good art could start a lot of conversations.

  2. Kim I think you are right. My friend David was telling me the other day to not tell too much of what my paintings represent to me so that people can experience their own interpretation and fill in the blanks. Art doesn't always have to have a story. for me it's either something that pulls me in or sometimes repulsed me and I just don't like it and move on. I'm not the type to try and find the meaning in something that I ddont get some pleasure out of looking at it. now there is a bad art museum in Dorchester, Ma that is just fabulous. Check It out online. So how do we decided what is Bad art that we love vs bad art that is just plane bad or ugly? I truly believe that it is in the eye of the beholder!