How I Came to Love Art

Z Bench 2
I love this photo so much.  It is of my majestic BouvierJoop posed beside one of our curved benches.  It is taken outside Zambri’s restaurant in Victoria where I work as a Sommelier.  But even if I were not connected to all these things I would still enjoy looking at this photograph.  I would love the angle the photo is taken from where the bench seems to snake onward to infinity.  I love the way the dog is caught staring at someone outside the photo. It captures his intelligence and intensity.  I love the way his eyes match the colour of the bench and curve of his leash mirrors the curves in the rebar. I love the way the photographer gives us a sense of a busy street and and a busy restaurant in the background while ensuring our eye remains drawn to the dog and bench.This is a photo taken by my good friend and extremely talented photographer Jacqueline, (Jax) Downey.

I have a funny story I tell at dinner parties about when my wife Dita and I first moved in together.  At the time I had an apartment that was filled from top to bottom with Ikea, including the “artwork” on the walls.  Dita brought with her a mishmash of stuff including several works of original art brought over when her family immigrated from the Netherlands. I was quite upset at the thought of the beautiful symmetry of my Ikea look being messed up by her things.  I thought her artwork looked old and worn and somewhat depressing while my new Ikea stuff was so bright and perfect and new.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think Ikea definitely has its place.  I just tell the story to show how tastes develop and change. Now, of course, her paintings hang in our home and I can not even remember my Ikea “art”. (Photo taken by me not Jax)

Dutch ARt

Developing an appreciation for art takes time.  I often find I have a hard time going to an Art Gallery or Museum.  Mostly I feel anxious in these places.  I have an easier time reading about art and then looking at it. Or someone can help me with the process like the very good docent at a museum in Phoenix, who really helped me to connect with Modern Art for the first time. Yet, I have also been deeply touched in a seemingly spontaneous way by certain pieces and these moments stand out for me.

Functional Art is a something that I feel a lot more comfortable with.  By this I mean art that is both aesthetically pleasing and functionally satisfying. I have developed a love and appreciation for beautiful homes and the furnishings that go in them and now that my eyes have been opened to this it brings me great pleasure.  Alain de Botton in his book, The Architecture of Happiness, examines why this is so. He states;

“We value certain buildings for their ability to rebalance our misshapen natures and encourage emotions which our predominant commitments force us to sacrifice. Feelings of competitiveness envy and aggression hardly need elaboration, but feelings of humility amid an immense and sublime universe, of a desire for calm at the onset of evening or of an aspiration for gravity and kindness – these form no correspondingly reliable part of our inner landscape, a rueful absence which may explain our wish to bind such emotions to the fabric of our homes”.

I am lucky to live in a home that evokes this feeling in me every day.

2011-07-08 13.53.14-2

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