Firestarter Friday: Sense memory reaction

They hung one of my pieces next to a watercolor by Ben Steele. Even if I don’t sell anything, that pretty much made my day.

Let me start this by saying that with the exception of talking about my kid, I am not a mushy person. I don’t do chick flicks, I don’t get gushy, and I am rarely caught crying. And I’ve never felt like I’m some sort of emotional cripple, I just really hate extraneous crying. But then, out of nowhere, a completely run-of-the-mill event just throws me off my game.

Lots of small pieces, all really unique and fun. Mine is the last one in the first row. My cube mate at work made the third one in the third row. Another friend at work made the one just under that.

Thursday and Friday last week, I worked 13.5 hours each day to cover vacation for someone. Someone who really deserved some time off. On Friday, a small works show I am participating in also opened a few blocks away from my office. So once I hit a good stopping point, I wandered off to check out the show. I needed some fresh air and to clear out my head, so it was actually a perfect opportunity. Plus, I like showing to openings early. Being around lots of people looking at my work makes me feel nauseous, so I usually avoid that situation. When I got to the Toucan, I got a coffee, talked with the owners a bit, checked out the work and left. I could’ve spent an hour in there, but the later I stayed there, the later I would’ve left work. Plus, there were more galleries to hit.

Entering a gallery down the block is when it hit me. The music, the sound of wooden gallery floors and the wonderful, intoxicating smell of an oil painting in progress. Some people would’ve just been in a squeaky, smelly gallery. But for me, the multi-sense assault really did bring tears to my eyes. In less than a second, I was whisked back to long, late studio nights and countless show openings. It was like stumbling upon a door I thought was gone. The art was interesting, but nothing that knocked me over. I talked briefly with the guy playing guitar, who also draws. I was not there long. But the whole rest of the night and even now, a week later, I still can’t shake that feeling. And I don’t want to.

This minor, ten minute experience solidifies my belief that having a really great relationship with creativity is not built on a few huge experiences and massive skill sets. It’s created one piece at a time by memories and experiences. The smells that surround us when we are learning, the people we meet and the places we have lived. Not every conversation needs to be deep and pivotal, and not every location was to be “cultured” or exotic. But when these reactions do grab us, we need to hold on tight and ride where we are taken. These slices of experience can propel us so far, if only we let them.

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