Spontaneity isn’t always about doing the most exciting thing you can think of in the moment; it can be something as simple as going to get ice cream after work just because you can. Or, like today, going to an art museum simply because it’s free and your family wants something to do.
In my hometown, the local art museum is the place that you visit every year on school field trips. It’s where your parents drag you when there’s a new exhibit and you can get a student discount. It’s where you take tourists who haven’t seen a Monet or Gaugin in person. It’s a place that is foreign to outsiders, but worthy of dread to the kids who have grown up here. We’ve seen it all; it isn’t exciting anymore. I don’t know if it ever was.
Last time I visited, I had to tell my boyfriend at the time that, no, you cannot touch the paintings. The way he stood too close, walked around carelessly, talked above hushed tones let me know that he had never been in an art museum before he could even tell me.
Last time I visited, I was still in the mindset that art museums are boring, particularly this one because I’d been at least a hundred times. I tolerated it because it was something special for his family, and I pretended like I knew everything, despite the fact that my eyes glazed over and my mind would wander every time anyone tried to teach me a single thing about the art prior to that day.
This time, I’m a little older. I walked inside with that familiar dread, knowing I was in for a big old snooze-fest, but found myself lost in the first painting I laid my eyes on.
I turned from the check-in desk and felt myself being drawn into the room beside me. This massive painting seemed brand new, though I know I must have walked past it before, staring blankly and thinking about things that were clearly so much more important. I never saw the intense blue that pops out at you, a harsh contrast from the otherwise dull colors. I never saw the spear in the woman’s arm, and I never realized that she represents the goddess of war. I looked at it with boredom just a few years ago, but since today I have no idea how I ever looked at any of these beautiful and symbolic paintings with zero interest.
Growing up isn’t all that bad. I’m seeing things in a different light than I used to and it’s both terrifying and exciting.
I stood in front of each painting for several minutes just staring and really thinking about it, fully aware that a few years ago I was convinced that the people who stare at paintings for longer than thirty seconds do so only to seem pretentious and knowledgeable. Suddenly, I was one of those people I used to look down on. I get it now. They all have separate identities. They all mean something and stand for a particular time in history and holy crap they’re older than most buildings left standing. Suddenly, they were all beautiful.
I fell in love with the colors and brushstrokes,
the mischievous grins,
and the coldness that I never knew could radiate off of a canvas.
It was all brand new and exciting and I was so grateful for my spontaneous mother and sister for dragging me along with them. The paintings never change, but I clearly have. They symbolize everything the artist intended for them to symbolize, but they now symbolize my own progression in life and that is beautiful to me. They showcase a time in history, frozen in their crackling paint, but they now hold a piece of my own history, even if I’m the only one that that matters to.
Let me know what you think!