artNotes from Hyde House: Charmed by Charming Men

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The Farm is an oil painting made between the summer of 1921 in Mont-roig del Camp and winter 1922 in Parisóa kind of inventory of the masia (Catalan: a type of rural construction) owned by MirÛ's family since 1911 in the town of Mont-roig del Camp.

Again my husband David handed me a copy of The New Yorker, saying with a knowing smile, “I think you’re going to like this one about Miró”. Of course, he was right. The article’s author is Peter Schjeldahl (Shell-dol), another of my favorite NYC discoveries.

I believe I already had a pretty broad worldview when I went east from Arkansas, but my, oh, my! how my windows-on-the-world opened when I drove our 24-foot UHaul truck carrying all our worldly belongings through the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River and right on into Midtown Manhattan with my two children hooraying and our two cats meowing—all of us ready to step out onto terra firma and a brand new life. We did step out and stepped up to accelerated expansion that continues to unfold.

We’re all still grooving on our evolutions begun on that remarkable day that sent my son to set up his family and outdoor adventuring and techno successes in the great northwest as my daughter does her Jersey-to-city work compute and raises our granddaughters with her husband while David and I create our art-centric shared experiences anchoring artCentral here in mid-America. Living life with our expanded worldviews across the continent is good for all of us, really good!

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Going east or west to touch coasts and share time with those we love is a huge part of our life’s goodness. Taking a quick week to be in New Jersey to meet and hold our new grandgirl, Xandie, and play with her big sis, Sophie, is pure bliss. A day doing art in the city is a fabulous bonus, especially when the day includes taking in the current MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) exhibition “Joan Miró: Birth of the World”, the subject of The New Yorker’s art critic review by Peter Schjeldahl whom I first found soon after deboarding that UHaul truck.

Since our first introductions, I have always loved Schjeldahl’s writing in the same way I have always loved the art of Miró. Both are masters of their crafts they create with inventive intelligence informed with childlike delight and wonder. Schjeldahl uses a lot of five-dollar words, meaning I have to consult Siri when I need a good definition, but he doesn’t use those to be show-off-y but rather because the art he describes begs for more than plain and regular descriptors. As though just for fun Schjeldahl throws in fancy words from his vast personal lexicon. Apparently he has always done and continues to do what feels most natural.

In a similar way I feel compelled by my own “can-do” driving instincts. In this regard I like to claim a commonality of background with both Schjeldahl and Miró. We all three, guided by our aversions to expected conventions, have more or less stumbled into our life callings by running away from the expected into the greater unknown. (I just couldn’t bring myself to get a “safe” degree for a respectable profession, because I always only wanted to be an ARTIST!, never dreaming I would end up as the executive director-curator of a non-profit arts organization I absolutely adore!)

I like Schjeldahl for being the small-town Minnesota boy who, ravenous for sophistication and knowledge, dropped out of his close-to-home-college, worked his way east as a newspaper reporter and made his contributions to The Village Voice, Art in America, The New York Sunday Times, Vanity Fair and now The New Yorker and makes time to write books, his most recent being “Let’s See: Writings on Art from The New Yorker”.

Just as I admire Schjeldahl for his set-your-compass-on-your-true-north gumption, I’m impressed by Miró, the international Catalan. Miró, born in Barcelona in 1893, was by his goldsmith/watchmaker father shamed away from a career in art and driven to be a clerk. Miro’s response after two years was to have a complete nervous breakdown then finally enroll in a local art school.

As Schjeldahl tells us, Miró “visited Paris in 1920 and…soon bedazzled the art scene with works like the energetically fragmented, blazingly colored ‘The Farm” (1921-22), which was bought by Ernest Hemingway. Miro joined the Surrealist group in 1924.”

Described by Schjeldahl, today Miró “is known best for his trademark lexicon of asterisk and scribble, petal and curlicue.” Alexander Calder’s mobiles took “Miró’s influence to literal heights, with variations on the Catalan’s repertoire of catchy, nature-allusive forms suspended in air.”

The Joan Miró works David and I stand before, relish and admire on our afternoon at MOMA, are summed up perfectly by wordsmith Schjeldahl: Miro is “given to timeless, simple pleasures of recalled childhood and artisanal tinkering. Miró is fun. He earns and will keep his place in our heart, rather exactly like Calder, with abounding charm.”

There’s no denying, I am thoroughly charmed by my charming husband’s exquisite artistic tastes that embrace the charming writers and artists I adore!

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