What is "Art"
The question has been debated time and again over hundreds of years. Yet this simple definition, by a man who undoubtedly understood Art well, may just capture the meaning of the word in a way that any one of us could embrace.
Moving our folks from their independent life on the beach at Perdido Key, near Pensacola Florida, to the hills of Brown County in Nashville Indiana, was a big step, yet with the move came an opportunity for our folks to spend time daily with my brother Matt's family, and to make new friends. The past three years have had their challenges, but they have also brought our family closer together. The bonds of family have been strengthened by those same challenges. Love will see you through. At times there are issues at hand that seem overwhelming, yet it was following a hospital stay after a fall for Mom, when Matt did not leave her side, that he told me of the connection the two of them found during that time. Each of us has worked with the other to be there for our folks when a special need arose. Our sister Laurie is with them now, giving Matt and his family a break and sharing her time and love with our folks. Love will see you through.
When Mom and Dad were settled in at Jill's House, the Memory Care Assisted Living home in Bloomington Indiana, I stayed on in our folks old apartment for another week or so. The last night that I was there, I finally found the hand written keys that Jim Gray had put down on paper so that these images, and the memories they represent, could once again come alive. He had created these three oil on canvas paintings for the pure joy of reflecting back on a life filled with people and places and things that had brought him joy. As his definition at the top of this post proclaims, "The pure joy of creating something that "you" want to make, just for that pure purpose alone... it is "Art".
Yet these are more than just art. They are also the painted reminders of the stories that have made up Jim's life and the interweaving of the kindred spirits of family and friends.
As I have lived with these images, studying them, writing about them, reading Jim's words that unlock them, I am finally "seeing" things that I have been looking at for years.
Tonight, just moments ago in fact, I was looking above this paragraph at the images of the Parade.
It suddenly hit me! A parade is like a concert or a play, or perhaps, even a painting. The musician and the actor are one side of the equation. The audience, you and me, we are the other side, and we give the performance a life of its own, by recording it in our memories and thinking back on the moments in time that were made special by the artist. I have seen, time and again, that Jim Gray is a thinking man. When he had full command of his memory, his thinking led to great paintings and sculpture, that will likely outlast us all. When he realized that his memory was slipping away, he began to record his own memories, with paint on canvas. He created a grand stage and then invited all to listen, and watch, and experience his memories, making them a part of your memories. Look at these paintings closely and you will see that Jim Gray is in there too. He is sitting in a red wagon, with his party hat on his head and drawing pencil in his hand. You and I are the audience. He has painted these memories from our vantage point, so that you and I are integral to the artwork. His joy can be our joy, and we have each been included in his Joy of Life Parade.
The next posts in this blog will begin to delve into the many individual characters Jim included in his Joy of Life Parade. If you look forward to reading more, please subscribe to the blog.
By the way, that's my sister Laurie pushing the red car with me and my brother Matt riding.