I'm trying ...... trying to appreciate the Museum of Northwest Art (MONA) in LaConner, but I fear the judgment of small minds in small towns. The way the small mind works is this -- since I wrote a critical comment about the Fishtown Art Show, currently at MONA, I am henceforth and forever branded as an enemy of the museum. That is far from the case, but it is the kind of talk that goes around a small town.
In fact, I am on the best of terms with Kathleen Moles, the curator of the show, and with many of the artists whose works appear in the show.
I had a long conversation over dinner with a museum staffer, and she warmly understands me as a supporter of the arts, of museums in general, and of our NW museum in particular.
In that conversation we compared MONA to internationally recognized places such as the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and the de Menil Museum in Houston, those being two of my favorites.
I want MONA to be that good, which is a very demanding standard. Should we settle for less? No, we should not settle for less. Making allowances for the size and scope of our regional effort, we should be as good as the best.
Having cleared that up, I viewed the Fishtown art show again today. It made inexpressibly sad, and this is entirely a projection of my own miserable state of mind. I saw failure and lost chances where others see a soft beauty..... I viewed Ralph Aeschlimann's paintings but I wanted -- needed -- to see see his beautiful, hand-built flying kites. I remembered long ago seeing my two small children chase Ralph and his kites across a field of grass. We were prescient kite runners then, and it all seems lost now.
Gull? Where is Gull, the Turkish woman? Why is she not included in the Fishtown Art Show? She was extravagant beyond measure. She was the original terrorist from the Middle East. Even barefooted, she wore spiked heels. And she lived on the river, someone's wife, not a poet or artist, but making meals, tending the fire, minding the children. And she left no trace of art? Are you kidding? She was an awesome anti-Zen Buddhist, a non-Sufi miracle of contempt for boring people.
Gull was never boring. She was alive and that scared the hell out of people.