Saturday, June 25, 2011

Art Can Take You Anywhere

Possum and I have been writing about contemporary art recently. Since neither of us knew much about it (sorry, Possum, but you simply don't, being a little too contemporary yourself at only 23 months old), we have been learning a great deal about artists we'd never heard of, as well as art movements we only knew vaguely about. It's been fascinating to discover all sorts of interesting things that were happening in the contemporary art scene back in the days when I was busy reading Laura Ingalls Wilder; watching The Partridge Family and Gunsmoke; wearing "Smile" buttons and bell-bottoms, and listening to Bobby Sherman, the Monkees, and the Beatles.

But one of the best things about writing about art is where else it takes you. Artists have far-reaching interests, inspirations, influences, and causes. To understand where they're coming from, you have to know where they've been. In the past couple of weeks, Possum and I have researched quite a lot of topics besides art, artists, techniques, groups and movements, museums, and galleries from the past 50 years. Including:

1. The Russian Revolution, and Lenin
2. Capital punishment methods and history
3. London townhouses
4. Louisiana oil slicks in the 1960s
5. Fluorescent light tubes, past and present
6. How to make a mirror
7. Gone with the Wind (the book)
8. Spoof images of the Mona Lisa, featuring Cher and Captain Jack Sparrow.
9. The Triangle Trade (molasses to rum to slaves)
10. Citizen Kane
11. Raiders of the Lost Ark
12. Polyurethane compounds

And there's much more to come. We love to learn stray bits of information although we don't always remember them. (So we can happily learn the same thing again and again.) Possum maybe a total cyber-cat, but I'm old enough to still be amazed and grateful at how much information is at my fingertips, thanks to Google and Wikipedia. I can find what I need in seconds and learn what I need in minutes. I can just imagine trying to do this work in a library, using an encyclopedia. It would take forever.

And Possum wouldn't be allowed in a library. So forget it.

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