All or Nothing

Color [kuhl-er], noun: 1. something that comes from within.

In elementary school, I learned that combining pigments produces color from Mrs. Kranz the kooky art teacher. Suddenly blue, yellow, and red paints morphed into lilacs, ambers, and chartreuses as the acrid acrylic stench curled both my paint brush’s bristles and my own nose hair.  “Black,” Mrs. Kranz murmured, “uses all the pigments.”  I swirled all of them together and left a glossy trail of obsidian on my paper.  I had learned that black is everything, that black is all.   

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Feet and Bones

At the tender age of eighteen, my father saw Michelangelo’s Victory for the first time; the raw, emotional power of art grabbed him and held fast.  He went on to earn a Master’s in Art History and secured work as a curator in a modern art museum, a position in which he toiled endlessly.  Late one night, in a coffee-fueled fit of frustration, he calculated that his salary amounted to less than the hourly pittance of a parking attendant.  He worked that much.

Though he curated his shows with pride, only the Renaissance and Baroque movements truly enthralled him, but one seldom found Midwestern artists producing grandiose works of the like in the 1980s.  After a few years, my father decided to leave his field in pursuit of a business degree.  He now works in finance, but he still curates.  His visual sense for the arts has shifted to include an auditory one; he now casually reviews music like that by Trampled by Turtles for me, but ensures that I know the works of Baroque masters like Caravaggio too.

A mighty Italian painter, Vatican wonderboy, and shameless agent of debauchery, Caravaggio commands both my father’s and my attention.  He rubbed dirt from his nose and elbows with Rome’s most wealthy with ease.  An important clergyman commissioned Caravaggio’s Bacchus, a work that demonstrates not only his technical skill but willingness to challenge the conservative church doctrine of his employer through its overt homosexual themes. Continue reading