These past few weeks have been filled with stress, anxiety, and depression, so the need to get away from everything was quite necessary. One of the best ways to get a small vacation from some of these feelings is to do something that touches the senses of one’s imagination. We decided to go to the local museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, which some of us have membership to and brought along family and friends so that they might exposed to this nice little pocket of artistic culture nestled in the high desert valley of the Truckee Meadows, also known as Reno.
Our friend’s mother owns a very old Tiffany lamp that was given as a gift from the company to a family member who had apparently assisted the Tiffany company in some manner. We made this our first priority of things to see at the gallery. This made the Tiffany exhibit of special interest to her and we had wanted her to see if before it left. She really seemed to enjoy the masterfully crafted stained glass items along with some wonderfully unexpected pieces that were decorative pistols and a sword.
After seeing the Tiffany exhibit we went into another area where some paintings of various types and eras were displayed allowing me once again to see a particular oil painting of deer in the forest created by an artist during the late 1800’s. This painting especially stood out in my mind since when I first saw it a couple of months ago I had wished to be able to sit and just look at it for awhile because it caught my imagination. I really wanted to step into that painting and walk through the stream and onto the other side where a single deer was looking back at two other deer, what a very magical peaceful scene that very much appealed to my current state of mind. I had started to feel much better. It was nice to get out and see other people’s artwork up close and in person instead on a computer screen. So much is lost in seeing art in a photograph.
Now I had seen this painting previously as well as the Tiffany exhibit, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some new installation as well. Among these were several paintings that were very multi-dimensional in nature and showed various natural scenes that incorporated acrylic paint with pine cone parts, torn plastic bags, packing foam, seeds, and other materials that I cannot recall to name properly, but these pictures were captivating. To really appreciate the creativity that went into one of these pieces, one had to see them in person. And by this time I had completely left behind all my worries and sad feelings and was completely immersed in the artistic endeavors of some of the artwork. Part of the fun of seeing art with a small group of friends is discussing how pieces make one feel and the level of skill that some of these artist’s show. We all enjoyed seeing the carefully lit room that had rows upon rows of colored string mounted on one wall to the other and the strange depth illusion it created. When one entered the room, one was not sure where the string actually began and my friend’s mother worried that someone could actually walk into the display. She thought a barrier should be put up, but that would have ruined the effect that the display had on one’s senses. Artists do art to engage people’s imaginations, emotions, and senses.
Then we finally entered the last room which contained a new display that I had not seen before. This room held a variety of compositions that also held our attention and emotions. One large portrait painting that was done in oil and acrylic was so realistic that we did our best to examine it because we wondered if the artist had painted over a huge photo. Yes, it was that realistic and captured the little girl’s expression and features so marvelously. Then another piece of artwork from across the room caught my attention.
The brilliant and intense coloring of this piece caught my drew me from across the room. It was of three atomic bomb blasts. It was composed on heavy weight paper and was done by an artist with an Asian name, which I believe was Japanese. If I recall correctly the time period was the early 1980’s and reminded me of how much the Cold War was still in full swing at that time. When I got closer to the painting which was under glass to protect the paper, I started to see all the fine detail work….hundreds or perhaps thousands of meticulously drawn lines in ink and various hidden images that could only be seen up close. The rabbit was the first small creature that caught my attention. It was on the hillside closest to the viewer of the scene and he was drawn in ink as if to invite you to notice more. Then in delicate shades of grey or blue shadowy deer were watching the horrible scene from across the valley where the three atomic bomb blasts were going off. I could only imagine that the animals wanted to get as far away from it as possible. Then on the top of this hillside was a rocky outcropping with more shadowy images of ancient cave drawings on the rocks. And on top of all of the carefully painted imagery and the finely drawn ink was this metallic orange paint that was flecked on like tiny droplets of radiation covering the entire area. It was thicker closer to the blast area and then less dense as you came away to where the deer and rabbit were standing…..then the real bomb hit.
To which my friend replied, “We’re not touching the painting.” Then the voice snidely and disapprovingly replied something to the effect that she insisted that “we” had been “touching” the painting and that her tone was calling my friend a liar. The magic of the day was lost. My stomach felt tossed and all the wonderful joy that I had felt from being at the museum of art was gone instantly.
My friend nor anyone else in my party had touched the painting. Technically, no one could touch the painting, it was safely under glass. I touched the glass by accident while trying to point out all of the wonderful details in the artwork.
As an artist, I would not want anyone damaging my artwork. I would not want that to happen to anyone else’s work. But art is also about engaging the viewer and gaining their appreciation or reaction. I was there and so were my companions until that woman ruined it. I will always think of that painting tied to the unpleasant experience of the rude woman who ruined my trip the Nevada Museum of Art. I would love to have people like my artwork so much that they wanted to point out details to another because they were excited to see the effort I put into a piece, even if that meant accidentally lightly touching the protective glass. The glass is there for a reason. The art is up for a reason. The artist wanted to share their inspiration for a reason.
It’s gonna be a long while before I go back there.