Friday, September 9, 2016

What good is art?

What is art for? It's a big question and I can't presume to have the answer, but it's fair to say it's different for each of us. And different reactions can be equally meaningful.

For me, art is not just about pleasing images. It's a kind of visual poetry and spirituality that enriches our lives. It reminds us that it's OK to feel and it's OK to look for the good in people and life around us. In fact, I think it's necessary for a happy, fulfilled life!

With that in mind, I'm feeling less bad about our Muscoot art reception being on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. Needless to say, September 11th is a powerful day and I would not want to trivialize it or be disrespectful in anyway. So the "appropriateness" of an art reception on that date has been on my mind.
trompe l'oeil, feather painting, blue feather
Jay Burl © 2016 Dorothy Lorenze

And then this happened. Last weekend a young woman visiting Muscoot park was drawn to our art show - accidentally - out of curiosity to see the historic house. She wasn't interested in art at all, but when she saw my painting of a blue jay feather she became emotional. She had to have it, although she wouldn't say why.

So she paid and we kept the painting while she went off to explore the farm. When she returned to pick up the painting she was ready to tell her story. She had recently, and rather suddenly, lost her grandmother. At the funeral she confided to her cousin that maybe she would feel consoled a bit if she knew her grandmother could come back and see her, "maybe as a bluejay". Just a whimsical thought.

Then that night a bluejay landed in front of her car as she was about to leave a diner with her cousin at 11:30 pm! It sat there in front of her car for so long she had time to take a photo. Then it left. A few days later her dog was barking to get her attention and when she went outside to see what the issue was, he ran over to a bluejay feather! These encounters were more than a little unusual and she felt a strong connection to her grandmother. So this painting now seemed like another touchstone, one that she could always have to connect with her grandmother. It certainly wasn't painted with that in mind, but it's a gift to me as well to know that it has such meaning for her.

yellow sunflowers, sunflower bouquet, oil painting, still life
Sunflower Bouquet ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
In a similar example, last month I was commissioned to do a painting as a wedding gift. After some discussion about the brides likes, we decided on sunflowers. It turns out she absolutely loved the painting because, unbeknownst to me or the gift-giver, she had sunflowers at her wedding as a tribute to her grandmother: they were her favorite flower. So lots of unexpected meaning in this painting too.

These sound like unique occurrences, but honestly, so many paintings have held special meaning for individuals. And isn't it wonderful when a beautiful image reminds us of a beautiful soul.

With that in mind, I feel like celebrating art is a meaningful way to honor the tragic sacrifices we all faced on September 11th 2001. I hope you agree.

Wishing you peace.


  1. I love the sentiments in this post! And the sunflower painting is absolutely gorgeous (I am a big sunflower fan). What a wonderful wedding present!

    1. Bobbi, thank you so much. (I'm sorry I didn't see your comment here earlier so am replying rather later) I'm sure you have had similar experiences with stories from your art collectors too. It's always heartwarming. Thanks for taking the time to write.


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