Sunday, January 18, 2009

. . . were reprimanded at

the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Yeah, it's true. I confess that the young lady guarding the room with the works on paper exhibit yelled at me. And not only in the way my kids used to say that I yelled at them whenever I said anything other than something totally positive. Here's the story:

On a whim, we visited the museum. It's shameful, but I had never been there before. It was amazing. . . all of the big-name contemporary artists were represented, as well as a bunch I had not encountered before. . . I admit, I was studying them all intensely. Up pretty close and personal. But as an artist, I KNEW that I was not supposed to touch them. But I would have to say my nose was pretty close to a bunch of the pieces on display. I was examining one, and I saw a crazing in the paint. That's something that has happened to me many times, and I thought it was a bad thing to have happen. . . this was NOT an intentional crackle-finish, it was a crack. We were in a rather large room, and as I pointed to the crack, this young lady yelled across the room "DO NOT TOUCH THE ART." I assured her that I had not touched it. She started to yell at me again across the room, but thought better of it, and came striding across the floor, saying something to me along the way which I did not catch. So I said, "Excuse me?" and as she approached, she told me that I should not even give the appearance of trying to touch a piece of the art, that I should maintain a respectful distance from the works on display. Then she showed me how far away from the art I should stay by spreading her arms apart, a distance of perhaps three feet.

I'm good with all that, but really, I didn't touch it. . . and as she eagle-eyed me through the rest of the visit, I was completely unnerved and truly can't remember much else in my haste to get away from her but still see all that I could see. I realize these were all hugely high-dollar art pieces (and, by the way, all donated by one family, as far as I could tell, the Kempers), but I would like to say that should my art ever be displayed anywhere, anytime, whether in a museum (uh-huh, sure) or on a chainlink fence in a parking lot, please, people, touch it, feel it, that's all part of the experience. I'm glad my art will never be inaccessable. . .

Here's another collage using my favorite papers of late. I'm getting into the purple for some reason. Enjoy, but please, stay at least three feet from your screen.


Lynda Lehmann said...

I love the vivid colors in your collage! Makes me want to do some collage, which I have not really done, in my art explorations.

As for the museum experience, this reminds me of a time when I was in a large, then well-known, department store, many years ago. The mission was to buy underwear for my husband.

I had a few multi-packs in my arms and had unwittingly wandered over to the next department, without first paying for them. Suddenly I became aware of someone breathing down my neck, pivoting, side-stepping, dancing to follow my every move. I toyed with my recognition that she was store security, dressed to appear bedraggled, eccentric and impoverished, by testing her moves.

I moved to the left, she followed. I moved to the right, she moved around the rack in a circle to face me almost head on. And so it went, for a few tense and uncertain minutes. When I felt certain that she was security trailing me, and not some costumed weirdo sexual predator trying to pick me up, I reeled around to face her, feet planted firmly and my jaw set to show my conviction.

"I can tell you are store security," I said. "And I want you to take me to your supervisor right this minute!" (I was going to complain about being hounded by this over-zealous nut-job of a detective.)

The shaggy woman did an about-face, strode into the nearest aisle, and disappeared.

I did not intend to steal the men's underwear which I still held under my arm, nor had I ever done such a thing in my life.

I hope they fired that woman, for being both ineffective and indiscrete! If not, I hope they at least made her change her get-up and her stalking technique!

Margaret Ryall said...

I'm a very bad museum visitor, too. I'm so attracted to the surface of work that I want to get really close to it. I actually have to hold my hands behind my back. A family member is usually embarrassed by another trick of mine - pulling my glasses down on my nose and peering over them while moving my face until my nose is almost on the work. I've had my moments in museums and galleries.

As for purple.. you go girl! There is no better colour in the world.

rivergardenstudio said...

I have just found your blog and even before I read this wonderful story I was drawn to your collages! I love your rich colors, your white, and I agree about touching art, and when I take mine to work to show my students I always let them touch... I am sorry this woman was so rudely cruel! Roxanne

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Art Police. Pleazzze.

Jo Horswill said...

Rich and lush collage, just beautiful.
I like your blog title too "What If I" it's wonderful.
Thanks for sharing your story...Similar has happened to me in galleries. I love getting up close and personal with art that captures my eye.
I had the best time in Paris a few years back. I think my nose was about 1cm from studying a Monet...and not a eyelid in the gallery blinked! It was wonderful.

Jeane said...

LOL! - well, I get in trouble all the time - especially if Lis and I are together - we are loud, nosy and it makes people nervous! - I guess she was just doing what she considered her job, but way to ruin your time at the museum - I always wonder what the artists would think of their work being so unapprochable - I don't think they would appreciate it - I love the white around the top square in your collage - that really works for me! AND the purple!

harold hollingsworth said...

control, it's in all the wrong places, she should be a securities and exchange guard, that is something more in need of police action! Nice work Mary!

Sherrie said...

I think I am your most avid fan. After wandering over and taking a peek at your offerings on etsy, not only did I have to wipe the drool off my chin, but it made me wonder why you weren't selling anything. It must be the lack of exposure that etsy does not provide.

For awhile now I have followed several artists who post daily (or weekly) as available and they seem to have exposure to a huge untapped market and most of their work is boring, boring, boring. And they charge and get $100 for a measley 5"x7" painting. They also direct viewers from their newletter to their own blog and website(s).

Two artists I know personally, have been contacted by noted art suppliers and canvas makers to represent their products. All from their participation and "exposure" through this site: I'm thinking you should take look see and spread your wonderfulness to a wider more appreciative audience. They sure could use a wonderful abstract/mixed media/collage artist. Good Luck! Go get 'em!

Anonymous said...

My husband nearly got us banned from an art museum that had a glass exhibiton on. I can laugh now, but then, well...
Thanks for sharing yor story.

Mary Buek said...

Lynda, the underwear police were definitely working overtime. That's a great story. That sort of thing has happened to me, too, especially when I go somewhere on the spur of the moment, still dressed in my paint-spattered work clothes. Come to think of it, I wasn't exactly dressed to visit an art museum on Saturday, either.

Margaret: I know exactly what you mean about the nose up to the painting. Mine was getting pretty close. And my glasses were slipping, too.

Oh, Roxanne, she was really just young and probably had some experience with people touching the art. I think she was kind of bored actually. She probably should have handled the situation more diplomatically.

Leslie, no kidding.

Jo, I've been one of you fans for a long time. Thanks for visiting the blog. I envy your experience with the Monet. . . those cosmopolitan Parisians . . .

Jeane, I would love to visit a museum with you and Lis. . . and I would not be embarassed. It sounds like fun.

Harold, actually I think people like her maybe were in charge of the securities and exchange commission. . .

Sherrie: Oh, my, what a lovely post. Thanks so much for that boost. I am almost incapable of pushing my own art, it's the hardest thing for me to do. Not an excuse, I know. Thanks for the link, I'm going to check it out.

Cath: My husband was with me when this happened, and if the little lady had heard what he muttered under his breath we would have been banned, I can assure you. It really was a funny incident, and exemplifies why I should get out more, I think.

Gina said...

Yikes, that was a mean security guard! Once I got too close to a Georgia O’Keeffe watercolor and was admonished but not yelled at. Lovely painting—love the purple and red!