|I DON'T GET IT
((Essay from, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal."))
It's probably the biggest slap in the face to any work of art.
Imagine being an artist who has slaved away for weeks, months or even years on a single piece and after finally getting it into a gallery show or museum, you hear someone say, as they pick their nose and scratch their head …
"I DON'T GET IT!"
Okay, let's break this down. There are two sides to the whole, "I don't get it!" thing. First, you could see it as a sign that the viewer is trying to understand what the art is communicating to them. Great. That's good and we should encourage that. After all, isn't that what art is all about? However, far too often, this just isn't the case. We're living during a time when our minds are probably more closed than ever. However, most of us won’t admit to this. And so, when I hear someone say, "I don't get it!" it makes me think that they DON'T WANT to understand. That's just me.
This simple statement, "I don't get it!" is really the subtext of almost every conversation I've had with any artist. Being an artist, especially now, must be so frustrating. You're trying to express your soul to the world, only to hear (let's say it together now) ... "I DON'T GET IT!" I also deal with this as an art collector. So many people see art collecting as this exotic, otherworldly thing.
Kentucky artist Brad Everett Kirkman is really the inspiration behind this essay. I just bought five sculptural pieces from him. They're small, wire-hangar things wrapped in various ways with twine. I love them because they're so simple and humble, yet make powerful statements about life. One of my favorites is called, "Keep Your Head Up." The other is called, "Always Look On the Bright Side of Things." I'm sure these simple, unassuming pieces, mounted on small blocks of wood, will serve me well when I look at them during low periods in my life. Brad told me that he was glad that someone understood his art. He said I actually, "get it," which I do.
As I'm writing this, I realize that this statement is really a child-like cry for help. I mean, how many times have YOU said this in your own life? I've said it many times. Back when I was in high school algebra-trigonometry class, I said it. When I look around and see all the suffering in the world, I say it ... When I see some women in the mall whose faces are botoxed to the point of disbelief, I say it ... When I see these young, clearly misguided dudes walking around with their baggy pants falling off of their asses, I say it.
"I DON'T GET IT!"
It's a sad statement that expresses confusion, disconnection, frustration and loss. All of the things that we try to avoid in life. Yet, there's just no getting through this world without saying it at least once. Is there anyone who has ever lived who hasn't said it?
I don't know. Is there some rule out there that says art lovers MUST understand or relate to every single piece of art they've ever seen anyway? I hope not, because I've certainly had encounters with some head scratchers in some of the most respected museums. It's just like life, ain't it? No one has all the answers. We don't always GET the message. Intelligence doesn’t always save the day. You can drive yourself crazy constantly searching. You can miss the whole point. Speaking of which, what is the point? Relax and live a little, maybe. Again, no one has all the answers. All I know is when I get to the pearly gates, I'm going to throw my arms up, pick my nose, scratch my head, tap my foot, look at God and say, "Thanks for having me Lord. But ... do you have a moment? Can we talk?"
What If I Don't Get It?