I was recently asked about art and inspiration by Elyse Harrison of Studio Neptune. For her series, Elyse asks artists and creative businesspeople this question:
Think back to your childhood, somewhere between the ages of 5-10 years old. Is there a memory you would describe as an early creative spark?
Here's my answer:
I was seven years old. My father, an art historian, had taken my second-grade class on a field trip to the Albright-Knox, a small, great Buffalo art museum with an excellent collection of abstract expressionism. We all stood in front of Jackson Pollock's Convergence, and my dad told us a secret: There's a match, an actual matchstick, somewhere in the lower right, half covered in Pollock's drips of paint. I'd been to the Albright-Knox many times before, and I'd looked at that painting before, but on this day I was so proud to be there with my father leading my class; he was in his professor mode, more extroverted than usual, and he seemed fun and cool and a little unfamiliar. I loved his message, or at least what I think his message was: Anything can be art; it's art if you say it is. (That was a big lesson at the Albright-Knox; Warhol's Soup Cans were in the next room.) Also, anyone can make art, or at least be creative, or know about creative things. This was my dad talking, after all; my semi-embarrassing circa-1980 dad, who used a push lawn mower and grilled in the backyard and rode a bike around town. Yet he knew secrets about paintings and could charm the wild second-grade boys.
Most of all, I loved knowing about that tiny hidden matchstick. Did Pollock put it there on purpose? Did he drop it in the throes of an action-painting frenzy? I still look for it every time I go back to visit.