Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Deep at IKEA

It’s my birthday. It’s interesting how these celebrations have mellowed over the years. I did the ultimate suburban thing and went to IKEA. I also realized how easy I am to please these days. Nothing could have made me more happy this birthday weekend than my husband entertaining the kids while I browsed IKEA for shelves and things to make me feel organized. It was (maybe sadly so), blissful.

As I stood in the checkout, I noticed at least 3 people purchasing mass produced canvas art. All of the artwork was either florals or abstracts, nicely stretched and some were textured to look like real paintings. Since the woman in front of me was buying about 800 different types of knobs, I knew I had time to ponder those arty questions - what is art? If it seems purely decorative, is it art? Is painting truly, finally dead as it has been repeatedly claimed since the invention of photography? If growing factories in China can mass produce oil paintings in every genre for peanuts, then why aren’t we painters just chucking it all in and becoming caterers and postal carriers?

Thanks to the ‘knob’ lady, I had an epiphany for all my juvenile angst. It seems so obvious and I knew it before, but I didn’t really FEEL it until then. Original art has soul. It’s not definable, it’s just something you feel. It’s the same reason I just had to go see the Monet to Dali exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery last year. Sure, I’ve seen so many of those famous paintings in print throughout my life, but standing in front of the originals was a completely different experience. I went having a preference for Cezanne over Manet, and left with the opposite. It’s the same reason when you spend time in someone’s home where there’s color and original art on the walls, you leave with a cosy feeling and can’t remember what their couch looked like. Then you spend time in a perfectly coordinated house with one or two strategically placed pieces of nicely framed, store bought posters and all you really remember is the sofa. Original art does have the ability to breathe life into a place. For that I'm grateful and I'll just keep on painting.

Here’s an interesting artist, Bill Braun. Click on the link, DON’T READ, quickly scroll the artwork, then read and take a close-up look. Surprised?


dinahmow said...

Well, Ellen, I think you nailed that!

(Really MUST work on a lino block so will click Bill Braun when I stoop for dinner.)

andrea said...

Yesyesyes. Such a simple explanation -- I love it. I have heard that purchasing art gives you a kind of high you rarely get from other 'retail experiences' (except maybe sofas :) and can become quite addicting. Send all addictive personalities who like art in my direction!

And Happy Birthday!

dinahmow said...

Forgot to say "happy birthday" first time around. And I like the sort of "treat" you gave yourself.

Caroline said...

Happy Birthday!

Nothing that brings bliss like that is sad!

BlueJude said...

What a great post! YOU are right. True art has thoughts exactly. OH and the whole home decor thing is right on. It is a bit discouraging at times tho, that people are purchasing these mass produced pieces when there is other affordable art to be had. Anyhoo, Happy Birthday! What was she doing with all those knobs? lol Maybe some assemblage? Maybe she's an Ikea artist junkie...ok I'm going now. lol

girl work studios said...

Dinah - thanks for the birthday wishes, lino prints are so much fun, be sure to post them when you're done.

Andrea: I wish I was wealthy enough to experience that kind of high and your house was one that was on my mind when I wrote that post - I have no memory whatsoever of what your couch looked like.

Caroline: you are right, being satisfied with small pleasures, whatever they may be is what it's all about.

Blue: I guess the people who buy only wall decor and people who buy original art are not really the same. 2 of the shoppers were buying the $200 textured canvases. I thought they could find something great, at least a limited edition print directly from an artist with that money instead, but I guess getting it all under one roof is convenient.

andrea said...

Ellen: Come to think of it I can't remember what my couch looks like either. :)

Angela Rockett said...

Happy much belated birthday, Ellen!(Sorry so late.)

I have a package I'd like to send to you. Could you email me at arockett at gmail dot com with your snail mail address?

patricia said...

Brilliant post. You nailed it. (Though I confess that not only did I purchase our couch from IKEA, I also once purchased art from IKEA, too. Though in my defense, it was a reproduction of a Hoffnung cartoon, which I knew I would never be able afford, were I to find an original).

And very belated Happy Birthday! (I'm all caught up in my work and am now finally back to exploring my fave blogs!)

girl work studios said...

Angela - thanks for the birthday wishes, let me know when you get my package, love to know what you think of it

Patricia - glad you're back! hey, nothing wrong with purchasing from IKEA, just putting in my plug to support living artists. I have a Cezanne poster from the AGO that I really like, don't really need to say I will never be able to afford the original (unless my lotto numbers come up).