I imagine I am the type of prey that is targeted by advertising mavens perched high in their roosts on Madison Avenue ready to swoop in on any naivete. My attention is easily piqued at the check out counter when I see a pretty package, an interesting design, or a newfangled idea.
This occurred to me many hours after visiting a well known contemporary art museum this past weekend. When my daughter and I entered we were thrilled at the scale, amazed at the audacity, dazzled by the brevity of artists unafraid to adorn gridiron sized spaces with glaciers of plastic and spray paint, with a land of the giants-sized cornucopia of wood and broken furnishings, and with a tenfold of televisions viewing communism and fascism with equal aplomb.
It was later that night, both of us exhausted but wound up from the stimulation of shiny new things, that my daughter voiced what I had yet to formulate. “I just want to see pretty things. I want to be inspired”
Exactly. What was missing among the temerity was craft. That is not to say that the artists didn’t have ability. We just couldn’t see it. We were both hungry for discipline, years of effort, simple beauty. Looking back now, it was like sitting down to a meal of raw poultry, unwashed and uncooked vegetables, and a box of Prince spaghetti. What we wanted was pasta primavera and chicken piccata.
I will take this little lesson to my writng life and work on my craft. I am terrified somone will see my writng the way I now view the plastic spray-painted glaciers. Shiny and new can be exciting, but looking past Madison Avenue for the local market or trattoria will hit a home run every time.