SFMOMA, take two. It’s not that I like modern art, per se, it’s that I like the idea of me appreciating stuff that does not necessarily come with superheroes, space fights or an SNL cast member (preferably Kate McKinnon, amirite ladies?) The thing about modern art, though, is that really challenges and confronts your ideas and understanding of art. It asks constantly: what is art, to you?
To me, one of the powers of art is that it is open to interpretation. It evokes as many feelings as there are people experiencing it. There are a thousand ways to experience art. So, maybe art is only art when it has an audience? But then, what if I were to paint some truly beautiful pieces, like Manet-levels of good, then never show them to anybody, keep them under lock in a closet forever. Would they be less art then?
Or is it intent that makes art? I feel like, when I learn more about the artist’s intent for a piece, as well as his process and/or the context in which the piece was created, I find the piece more interesting, it becomes more open to me, like it’s revealing its secrets. But I could also disregard context, intent and process, reject them entirely, and just focus on my own interpretation of a piece, how it makes me feel, and it would be just as valid.
So yeah, art is really fucking complicated.
In the abstract section, just as my heart is soaring in front of a grey canvas filled to the brim with white loops, a bored kid asks his mom: “Why is it art? It’s just nonsense.”
I learn that in the 70’s, the polluted air was so acid in LA, that it exacerbated the color of the sky, particularly at dawn and dusk, and it pushed the local artists to up their game in their representation of colors. That’s how a tradition of saturated sunsets was born into Californian art. I learn about the minimalists fascination with shape and near-identical shades of color, and all of a sudden these things fascinate me too. I learn about this dude’s (Walker Evans) mighty need to document everything about his period of time, to take hyper-realist, direct pictures of people, buildings, signs, to collect photographs and papers to preserve the time he lived in, as on the other side of the ocean everyone was lost in the meanderings of surrealism, dadaism and cubism.
I don’t understand everything I see. A lot of stuff bores me. But some of it stays with me, days later. Is that art? After I leave the museum, I see things in a different light, under different angles. Images are sharper. I think: I could make art of this, of life. Is that the mark of good art? Inspiring people to make art themselves?
Okay, too much thinking. Food, now.
I buy some Indian food from a cart at Market St, and walk to the Embarcadero to eat it on a bench next to the water.
The Embarcadero is a succession of local, organic shops and food stands and it’s packed full of tourist and rich locals. I get cheesecake and look through the books for a while, before the sun tells me that it’s time to go.
I take the N Judah line all the way to Ocean Beach, walk onto sand and put my booted feet right into the ocean. The motherfucking Pacific ocean, baby. It’s pretty cold, but the view, oh my god. I keep having to remember to pick up my jaw off the ground. I let the music and the wind overtake me. Since it’ s a theme apparently, Neil Young is the man for the job.
Old man look at my life, twenty four and there’s so much more. Live alone in a paradise that makes me think of two. Love lost, such a cost. Give me things that don’t get lost. Like a coin that won’t get tossed rolling home to you.
As the sun drowns into the waves, I let the salt baptize my Docs.
I take the N Line back to Embarcadero, get some empanadas to eat at the hostel. It’s a good day.
SONG CREDITS: Dear Prudence – The Beatles + Old Man – Neil Young – Harvest