A Trip to the Art Gallery

So a couple of months ago the wife tells me she’s entering a piece as a student in a college art show. I was excited because she hasn’t entered a show like that for a long time and everyone always loves her art projects. Last weekend we attended the show which was about forty miles away. I had seen the piece but I was looking forward to seeing the other people’s work that she had been telling me about. My inner art appreciator was very excited about the trip. I didn’t realize I needed to invite along my inner adventurer too.

Lately we’ve been switching off driving so when my wife asked me to drive my car to the show I thought nothing of it. Unfortunately the last time we drove we used her car so my sunglasses were still there. Yeah, I remembered that nasty fact as I turned on to the westbound interstate to begin the journey into the setting sun. It was late sunset though with enough bends in the road that I wasn’t facing directly into the sun for very long. So about forty on-and-off-squinty minutes later the iPhone navigator talks us into the downtown area of an unfamiliar city. We then search in vain for a parking place till finding one street-side another five minutes after that. That’s when I discover how badly my parallel parking skills have atrophied from disuse. But eventually, like riding a bike, I park the car without too much ticket worry.

The show was held in several galleries in one of those older areas that cities are redeveloping full of over-priced franchised bars, music venues and of course, art galleries. The area was once a street market so the sidewalks have those huge, overhanging awnings which at this point were covered by half a foot of melting snow. It was dark and forty degrees. As a result it was cold and damp enough to freeze both sets of cheeks but warm enough so that the melting snow from the awnings kept dripping on our heads or down the front of our shirts when we least expected it.

The pamphlet describing the art show said all the galleries were within ‘walking distance’ of each other. Whoever wrote that pamphlet obviously did not have sixty-year-old knees. We planned to only check out two galleries – the first where one of the artists was going to give a talk about her project and second, the one where my wife’s piece was showing.

The first stop at the first gallery was of course the restroom. After all, it had been a long drive followed by a long walk from the parking spot. Then we were able to leisurely check out the hanging photos. The college students standing around eating complimentary cheese and drinking complimentary wine gave the place the typical feel of an art show opening. There was a small table stacked with booklets that described the works – or the supposed story behind each picture – or… well anyway the photography was great and it was all very pretty and classy but after glancing through the booklet, we looked at each other and knew we were not staying to listen to the artist’s talk.

On to the next gallery where my wife’s piece was showing. When asking where the gallery was the common answer was “Just down the street a couple of blocks.” I’ve learned long ago that the longest distance in any city is usually described as “a couple of blocks” and I wasn’t disappointed this time.  I knew it was gonna be a journey when we met a couple of college girls who were heading to the same gallery and they were sure we were all going the right way because they had it on GPS. Needing to use GPS in a downtown area cannot be a good thing.

Finally we met another couple that my wife knows. They were just coming from the gallery we were headed to. They point to a light in the distance as they tell us that’s where we want to go. Awesome, I think to myself, only one more block to go.

Remembrances, a hand produced book illustrated with my wife's photography,
Remembrances, a hand produced book illustrated with my wife’s photography,

We enter this gallery which has a big main room with student work and side rooms dedicated to faculty works, all of which was mostly photography.  On one side of the student’s room there were several unusual pieces in the same area where the show presenter decided to group the alternative media together. My wife’s work called Remembrances, a hand produced book illustrated with her photography, was there. Next to it, by another artist, a piece I liked was a dress form wearing a dress with an artistic pig pattern and a pearl necklace. The work was titled Pearls on Swine graphically representing one of my favorite sayings. It’s also probably what the artist thinks of most of the people who view her art.

After checking out more of the student photographic pieces we moved on to the side rooms where particular faculty members had their work. Being an animal lover, one of my favorites was a series of photos of chickens. The photographer was actually able to show chickens with attitudes and emotions. Whether that was what the chicken was really feeling at the time, who knows? But the work was thought-provoking.

Another room had a series by an artist that had designed women’s hats. The hats were very old-style and very ornate. Many of the hats were on display as well as photographs of women wearing the hats made to look in the 1800’s style. My wife had told me about working with this artist and seeing the work she had described was not disappointing.

After checking out the rest of the show, some of it a bit unsettling as art is sometimes meant to be, we were both ready for a beer and a burger before the drive home. Another long walk and we stopped at one of the previously mentioned franchise bars. As designated driver I was stuck with Pepsi and a burger which just doesn’t have the same alliteration, among other things.

Aside from one last, long, walk back to the car, the rest of the evening was incident free – which was a very good thing because this old guy was just about done-in at that point. The show had been fun and entertaining. I really do hope she enters pieces in more of them. Adventure like that keeps us young.