1996 Guggenheim


Blank Canvas, Big aLICe Barrel Room, Sunset Park, NYC

The first time I went to the Guggenheim Museum was with my friend Thom, an international student from Austria, to see some fancy art when I was a freshman in college. With no idea of who Mark Rothko was, we paid a million dollars in student money to wander aimlessly looking at circles and lines. We made fun of every single painting. “Oh, look! Another red circle on top of a yellow rectangle, but now the blue box is green! How exciting!”

Of course typing this, I’m both cringing and giggling with pure evil satisfaction by how obnoxious we must’ve sounded to anyone within earshot. Worse, I cringe a little more admitting to you it would be almost eight years later I’d learn who Mark Rothko was in a conversation about my friend Susie’s dog’s name: Rothko. I felt so stupid sitting there realizing that original Rothko pieces were inches from me and I was a brat making fun of them (but here’s another reason why I’m a firm believer it’s never too late to learn/change/grow).

Funny how this trip to the Guggenheim Museum in 1996 became very significant the week of July Fourth 2019. I was touched by the ripple effect of this 23 year old memory when an artist named Jim Richards came to swap out some of his incredible photography for more insanely beautiful artwork at the Big aLICe Barrel Room Gallery.

As I often do with LIB’s Featured Artists, the Big aLICe Gallery Corner was always about showcasing artists. My vision of curating any gallery has always been to make it accessible for anybody, for the Kelly Coffeys of the world. Isn’t art’s gift to humans to also be an outlet for any combination of the timid, scared, lazy, overwhelmed, unknowing, anxious, insecure, inadequate,flawed, talented, skilled, magnificently vulnerable human creatives looking to express, produce and introduce?

The process of submitting to galleries or publications can be kind of demeaning. There’s a whole lot of pretentiousness which I’m not in any mood to tolerate while in pursuit of my passion.

I’m in a constant state of either searching for or creating a space of our own because nobody will stop me. Only I can do that.

Now loop back to when Jim sat down at the bar and said, “Thank  you. You are my hero.”  We share a disapproval for some of the shadiness that cloaks the art industry which is why it is so rewarding not having to jump through unnecessary hurdles to showcase what lives inside us, the way we see our worlds. He showed me photos of his friend’s art show (her first exhibit is at a library of all places!) and we discussed infinite possibilities for her work. (I CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO MEET HER. Seriously, when have I ever used all caps?)

As we chatted, that memory of me and Thom skipping up the swirl making fun of Rothko popped up. The fact that my brain associated those two moments made my heart swell by life’s serendipitous journey, the lessons that come from the very best moments, experiences, and achievements, and a lesson in and of itself that we’re all connected. Another sign from the Divine I’m on my path, not one of destiny, but of death and dreams. Truly. And if that guy Rothko can be honored at the Guggenheim, what makes you think we can’t?

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