Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Supreme Waste of Time

Finding something to do with yourself while you are alive can be quite challenging. Box office totals suggest that going to the movies is a popular activity, at least in America. In fact, watching other people live their lives and then discussing them with friends is a satisfying pursuit to many people, although to me it's just empty calories. And sightseeing in foreign countries, while amusing in short spurts, gets old quickly and offers little in the way of lasting value.

So this afternoon, in search of diversion, my friend Dagmar and I ventured downtown to see an exhibit of the works of Edgar Degas, the French artist known most for his gauzy paintings of ballerinas. Not being a fan of the ballet, or of Impressionism, I have never been a big Degas fan, but still, an artist living in Maine can't be too choosy about what to see or not see--after all, there is only one art museum here.

Several rooms of the Portland Museum of Art were hung with the artist's works on paper: etchings, watercolors, pastels, monoprints, pen and ink drawings, drypoint and aquatints. Seeing so many images from one man's imagination made me understand anew that artists pass their time on earth by covering pieces of paper (or canvases or walls) with images transferred from inside their brains. That's just what they do. It was reassuring, since I always feel like I should be doing something "better" than painting or drawing, but I've yet to find anything that is. And now that the Supreme Court might just overturn the whole Obamacare thing, a.k.a. the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which so many people spent so much time creating, it's clear that even important people waste their time, maybe more than artists do. At least we have something tangible to look at, clear evidence of our labors, after we're done, whereas all those senators and congressmen will have nothing at all. (Unless you count money as something.)


  1. "covering canvasses" . . . you have used that language before to describe art at its essence . . . it is such a stark un-romanticized way of looking at something so romantic. Appreciate your LACK OF TONE here which ADDS clarity :-)

  2. ....well said, Andrea....even looking at this exhibit wasn't as much a waste of time as listening to the nightly political jabber on tv....better to be an artist than a politician any day!! Dag