I was thinking this morning of art that has really struck me – not monumental art like Picasso’s Guernica or Botticelli’s La Primavera (which have certainly struck me and are amazing) but something a little more accessible. I remembered (Josh doesn’t, even though I remember him being moved, too) an art show we went to way back when in Burlington, VT at this little gallery (that last I saw as an upscale shoe store; so goes the way of retail shops) on Cherry Street. It was a series of painting of chimps and apes and I want to say that they were all deceased but that the painter had met or studied or maybe just admired. They were portraits – some full body, some in repose, in blacks with streaks of red and blue, bright highlights that really lit up their expressions.
The goal of the show was to make the audience feel that these animals had a conscience, had cognizant abilities, personalities, and feelings. It was mesmerizing. And to know that they had all passed and were being remembered brought those little hidden tears at the corner of our eyes (that you wipe away without anyone really seeing, maybe making an excuse about the dust in your eye, etc) – they were stunning paintings. Though my description makes them sound sentimental, it wasn’t that way at all. It was like seeing portraits of friends that you didn’t get to say goodbye to – or family that you were grateful to and wouldn’t get to know them. The artist was going to show the paintings in a few locations for a short time and then destroy them (I can’t remember if she was going to burn or bury them). Apparently it wasn’t even the artist I was taken by – as I can’t remember who they were or find any information – but the stories and the stunning faces they had interpreted for us.
Jane Goodall has critiqued on the lack of human ability to negotiate the world, “We’re destroying our home. That’s not a bit successful. Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.”
How do we find our way through?