My daughter agreed, for reasons I wasn't quite sure of, to accompany me to a nearby art gallery yesterday. A woman who stands on the same Saturday peace picket line as I do was displaying and selling the quilts she had made. Whatever my daughter's reasons, I was happy for the company.
The gallery was small -- perhaps 25x40 feet. Its floors were shiny with a urethane that would not have existed when the space was originally built to house some more practical business like shoe repair. There was a guest book to sign and there were perhaps 20 people to thread your way through. On a small table were a couple of bottles of wine, some cranberry juice, some salsa and chips and a bowl of carefully-clipped raw broccoli crowns.
And then there were the quilts hanging on the walls. They were stunning in my eye, but it's true I am a sucker through and through for beauty. Colors and designs and creativity and, like the Wicked Witch of the West, I'm melting, melting. It was the kind of display that, like Beethoven's music, made me feel glad to be part of a human race that was capable and courageous enough to find a vision and then give itself entirely to that vision, whatever the dangers.
My daughter described the gathering as "earthy-crunchy" -- people who were pink and privileged and working hard to maintain -- what? -- a well-coiffed decorum, perhaps. She handled herself nicely -- friendly and polite and responsive and alive -- but, at 23, it wasn't her kind of crowd.
I knew what she was talking about, but looking at the quilts, I really didn't give a shit. These might be people who would make my teeth itch if I found myself stuck in their midst for too long, but, but, but ... who cared where the beauty came from as long as it existed, as long as it sang? The music lifted me up, up, up and of course it arose from an earth peppered with dog turds, but ... come on! ... listen to the music!
I told the creator, Anneke, precisely what I thought when I whispered in her ear, "Pardon the language, but this is fucking beautiful!" Meaning, as I meant it, that I simply could not find adequate words. "That's OK," she replied. "I've been known to use that word myself."
Usually, when people go to gallery openings, they go with some well-rehearsed praise in mind -- determined to make nice no matter what is on display. Art openings are, well, art openings and if you speak some praises of the work, you elevate your own pink privileges, assert your belonging-ness, your comfort in an earthy-crunchy universe. But when there is something beautiful ... it is lovely to have all posturings blown to hell, to be in the presence of something that speaks well of a human race that can be very tight-fisted and selfish indeed.
Pink-privileged or earthy-crunchy or Tea-Party idiotic, the beauty rises up and ... and... and ... it's to die for!
It's not only nice, but also strikes me as sensible ... find your beauty.