Saturday, July 6, 2024

They're art


My art show is up at my library. I like how it's going. 

The show itself is full of dozens and dozens of pictures of my library richly festooned with cartoon characters, wild animals, biblical and movie references, and only slightly unsettling alien invasions and monster rampages. 

But if you've spent anytime here on clerkmanifesto you surely will have seen most of the pictures that are in my show.

Despite my niggling disappointment that not every single person who walks into the library loves my pictures, or even glances their way, fairly speaking this collection is pretty popular. Families circle around the pictures pointing out details to each other. I heard that a neighborhood Facebook group heaped detailed praise upon them, and even some of my co-workers, who I would have thought had had enough of all these pictures by now, have said some enormously kind things to me about this show.

But above all, little kids get very excited about my pictures. And honestly it is wonderful to see them running around pointing their little chubby fingers at various featured bits, and crying out to their little child gods in delighted exclamation.

But curiously every time I see the children laugh joyfully at my pictures I think of a scene from the movie Love Actually

I can't find a clip of it and I've only seen it 30 or 40 times so I'll have to sort of paraphrase it. The character who is in love with his best friend's new wife is on the phone at a maybe high-end, London art gallery that he works at. His art gallery is showing large photographs of Christmas themed nudes, like, black and white pictures of naked people with tiny Santa hats over their nipples. A group of school girls are looking at these pictures and giggling. Our character on the phone briefly interrupts his call to admonish the girls:

"They're not funny." He says. "They're art."

Why do I think of this scene?

I have decided it's a kind of reminding joke I tell myself. Whatever the faults there are of Love Actually, this is a fine little comedy bit about the pomposity of art, packed, neatly, into a tiny scene of the movie. I have been inclined to believe in the endless hunger and ambition of the things I have made, but I have finally grown less interested. Making one smudged little three-year-old cackle is enough praise for any work, large or small. 

The rest is gravy.

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