Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Art Actually

The movie Love Actually opens with Hugh Grant doing a voice over of scenes from Heathrow Airport. People greeting people, smooching, hugging. The monologue ends with him saying, "If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion that love actually. . . is. . . all around."

It's a wonderful bit of cheesy-feel-good and a great way to start a movie that examines love in its many disguises. And call me a cheese-head, but I agree with the statement. And not only about love.

Let me explain.

A number of years ago I was attending university full time, working a quarter time job, while my husband worked three (count 'em) three jobs. Our children were ages one and three and we never used daycare or babysitters. Busy was a gross understatement. It was while I attending a dinner at the university held to connect scholarship recipients with donors that I discovered I wasn't just sleep deprived, I was art deprived too.

I was seated at a table with the elderly couple who supplied the money for the scholarship I had been awarded, and, oddly enough, with the mayor of Camrose, Alberta. After the meal a choir appeared and began to sing (heaven knows what song, but it was lovely whatever it was). I hadn't known there was to be a choir and I suppose you could sum up my reaction to their presence and their song as a jittery woman being ambushed by a robed mob, but there was something deeper at play. Frankly, I wept. No, wept is too delicate a phrase. I bawled. Snotty, bug-eyed mess I was.

My scholarship sponsors noticed. The wife slid some napkins at me under the table. The husband cleared his throat and stared intently at the choir. The mayor noticed and went shifty-eyed. Embarrassing, but I couldn't help myself. There was a voice in my head saying, "When was the last time you experienced beauty? How did life become so devoid of art?"

That night, I began a journey of bringing art into my life, and of looking for it. Keeping my ears open. This has led to a number of changes, even reversals in my life. I'm no longer art deprived. I engage in art daily as a reader and as a writer. Our home is filled with paintings, wall art, words, color. Our children practice piano in the living room, and draw, color, and make all manner of mess on the kitchen table. Music is a friend invited over daily. My husband and I began an artist experience at the church where he pastors. All because one evening a choir made me cry. Taught me a lesson: Look around and find art, and be found by art.

Today I had to make a stop at my children's school to drop something off to my daughter. It was lunch time and the halls and classrooms were empty. The moment I stepped into the school I heard music. I stopped. It was an old Boz Scaggs tune I barely recalled from when I was a kid. Odd choice for an elementary school to play over the sound system, but whatever.
I made my way to my daughter's classroom and I realized the music was getting louder, only now it wasn't just Boz Scaggs playing, it was accompanied by a kazoo. At least it sounded like a kazoo. Except it was keeping perfect time and pitch. There isn't a middle school child alive who can play Boz Scaggs on a kazoo. I slowed my pace and looked around. On my right was the janitor's office. There was no doubt this is where the music was coming from. I slowed my pace even more and looked in. There was the janitor standing in the middle of the room, facing away from me, his karaoke pumping, his lips buzzing on the mouthpiece of his trumpet. Gadzooks! The janitor is a brassman!

I dropped off what my daughter needed and headed back toward the exit. I took my time passing the janitor's office. This time, he was singing along. I don't mean he was mumbling into his janitor cupboard, sneaking a musical moment so as no one would notice. He was belting it out. A Liza Minnelli comeback concert at the Met moment. By the time I reached the exit, I was smiling. More than that, I was laughing. Not at the janitor (who sounded amazing), but from the sheer joy of being jumped by art.

It was another bit of proof I'm collecting along the way. Proof that, art actually. . .is. . .all around.

I bid you good writing.


Susie Finkbeiner said...

My daughter loves drawing with her markers. She seems to have never-washing-off marker on her hands nonstop. I love that.

My Mom (who was an artist turned art teacher) always said "True artists always have messy hands".

I have a 5 year old true artist. That makes me smile.

Bonnie Grove said...

Indeed you do! I like your Mom's truism.