On the first day of my exhibition, Tree of Life, I sold my image, Cherry Blossoms, to a woman who had never bought a piece of art before.
Some people buy art as an investment. One day Artist X might (hey, gambling is about risk too) become famous and abracadabra, lots of money is made. But there is more than one kind of value.
When I was a girl, my mother gave me a small wedgewood vase for my birthday. You know traditional wedgewood: neoclassical imagery - an 18th century fantasy of ancient Greek women and children in toga-esque gowns flowing in white relief over a dusky blue background. Images a romantic girl would love - and I did. As well as feeding my dreams of fancy ladies preening, my mother was also teaching the glorious lesson of feasting my eyes on beauty. As a young teen, she once gave me two posters - a Chagall and a Braque - the art to see in the world was getting more complex. And on my 21st birthday, she asked me what object of hers I would like as a gift. I said, "The Goya print" - an image of a captive man writhing in tortuous chains. Like my mother before me, finally, in my thirties, I put it in the back of a closet because I found it way too graphic and painful to look at. At 21 did I really not understand that the image was straight narrative - Goya chronicled the horrors of war - as well as working as metaphor? Somehow I didn't. I hung the picture next to Bosch's Christ Carrying the Cross where Christ is surrounded by a sea of seething, grotesque, distorted humanity. I can't quite access anymore what it was that my young adult self got from looking at this pain. (At the same age I also thought grungy bars were about REAL LIFE.) With all these gifts, my mother taught me about the value of art.
I like living with art. I have a marquetry piece – it is of a floating boat constructed from carefully cut veneer shapes made by Ontario artist Stephen Haigh. I never tire of this picture. I float with the boat. Sometimes it reflects back to me an existential aloneness. Sometimes I delight in the 'trick' of the wood grain being the misty horizon line. In our kitchen is an acrylic painting by now deceased Ontario artist Kathleen Brindley of a glorious bunch of beets flying through the wild blue yonder. It conjures for me the same joie-de-vivre that Kathleen had, despite her hard life.
I could see that the woman who bought Cherry Blossoms loved it. She spoke of how hard it is to do things for herself. Once, in a time of prolonged gray, winter misery, she had called up a friend and, very spontaneously, gone for 4 days to the Bahamas. There she swam with dolphins, felt the sun on her skin and remembered that the life of Life was still there. She said that my painting gave her the same feeling.
There were a number of transactions between the woman and I. One of them involved money; another occurred on a different plane. I took a piece of my vision and with craft and experience, I wove it into my painting. Living with Cherry Blossoms, her Seeing is a little deeper, a little richer. That's value.