Friday, June 22, 2007

Lesson Learned

One of the pictures I packed, a lithograph, actually, and sent home today is a beautiful, eerie piece done by a famous artist. It is a piece that my kids associate with Grandma. All the other art I've brought home, they hardly recognize. This one? They know by heart.

They called it Grandma’s scary clown.

It’s abstract but has enough detail to be described, loosely, as a clown.

Grandma, why do you have a scary clown picture? They would ask, over and over.

And she would laugh, over and over and say, with a little sniff, because I like it.

For me, it’s the story behind it that pulls at me. It was one of her first purchases of “fine art” and she was, admittedly, out of her league when she got it. Bought in a gallery at a Florida Mall, she paid what felt like an exorbitant amount of money- almost a thousand dollars- for the lithograph that was, she was told, signed by the artist himself.

When she told me this story, years later, she admitted her naïveté and, most importantly, her lack of knowledge and experience led her to buy what she believed then was a forgery. She wanted to believe she knew what she was doing, she confided, but ultimately did not.

It was one of her “don’t rush, be certain and well informed” lectures.

The picture reminds me of how human she was. Not perfect, as she tried so hard to be, not infallible, but prone to be drawn in by something beautiful and a whisper of greatness and fame.

Just like me.

She still loved it and ultimately, she said, that’s all that really mattered. And she learned something “to boot.”

She always said, “to boot.” I have no idea what that really means. It sounds like being kicked in the ass by something obvious.

When I get home, I’m going to hang it in my office to remind me to be humble about what I know and acknowledge what I don’t. How drawn to a famous name or a piece of beauty I am and to be mindful of the consequences of such adoration.

I will remember her laugh when the boys asked her about the picture.

Maybe it’s a forgery and maybe it’s not. I don’t really want to know because I love the story. I love the lesson.

And, in the end, love it's eerie beauty most of all.


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