We have a print hanging in our home of a sailboat beached along an abandoned coast that is lined with palm trees leaning out over the water. It is a peaceful scene of muted earth tones in a neat textured frame. For years, I looked at it as just a serene nature landscape. Then one day, I saw there was a little man on the boat. I had just never noticed this tiny sailor before. Now whenever I look at it, my eyes are drawn to this guy who appears to be working with rigging or something.
Now I have questions. Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Did he just arrive at this beach or is he preparing to leave? Is he on an extended journey or is this just a day jaunt? Is he alone? Is it by choice? Is he living off the land and sea? Is he American? Does he like Jimmy Buffett music?
What happened to my peaceful landscape? It was invaded by a bit of paint shaped like a man. I have an innate drive to find out this fellow’s story. In the vacuum of no narrative, I find myself constructing one for him. Things like: “This was his father’s boat who taught him to sail as a young boy. His dad is gone now, so when he gets to really missing him he takes out the old boat and feels closer to him again.”
This is what I enjoy most about art. Wordless stories. I can admire a beautiful landscape, but add a person or people and it triggers my imagination. I do not know art history or styles or anything that would make me an art snob, but I love art. I sincerely feel sorry for people who just do not have any kind of appreciation for it. It is the same way I feel when people tell me they never dream. Here’s hoping those kinds of people are not the ones who end up making decisions about funding, education or other opportunities that expose our young people to the wide open seas of imagination.