I’ve been thinking about the power of art recently. As in, the real power and energy it contains.
This piece, for example, I made with my father-in-law in mind while I was working through some ideas on marriage. The stylized diagram of an engine part or process (it was Greek to me, but he would know) came through my hands as if I knew it inside and out. The road reflector and red plastic – both broken – that I found on the side of the road. Even the last bit of blue lace from the roll, too small to really do anything with. All these things, destined for the garbage, but I saw something else for them. Frank, the self-proclaimed “junkyard dog”, would understand that.
After I sent Frank a photo of the painting, he asked me about each component, how I made it, how big it was, and so on. He kept repeating variations on his astonishment and pleasure: “No one ever did anything like that for me before”.
I’m fairly certain he never had any use for abstract (or any) art, and never had the desire to think about communicating visually. But he was genuinely moved by this painting, and the act of my making it.
Frank and I both worked with our hands. Sometimes what I do doesn’t appear to be very important; I’ve never fixed anyone’s car to get them to work, for example, built a house for my family, or even converted an old cooler into a shelter for rescue cats – that’s all Frank. But when I get a reaction like his, I realize the power I do have in my own hands.
I can make people slow down, and I can make them feel. In this day and age, that’s plenty.
For you, Frank.