But is it Art?

The first time was at the Winnipeg Art Gallery with the Dream Machine. I got hypnotized by the damn thing, I swear. One minute I'm peacefully standing around appreciating art, and the next minute there's two security guards hauling me down the stairs. After that happened I didn't go down to look at art until my hair and beard grew out.

Oh, I went around all the little galleries, but it was all crap. Except for this one show of comics, there was a ton of erotic stuff. Julie Doucet had a piece where these girls trap some guy in her apartment and they all take turns until he's so exhausted the girls tie a shoelace around the base of his penis as a makeshift cock ring. Then Julie bites it off. It was during that show that I realized I had a thing for art. Not like a thing where I'd put up a Le Chat Noir poster, more like a thing where I'd keep the latest BorderCrossings hidden between my mattress and my box spring. I know I didn't have to, who would think a great collection of art magazines was really a great (for me) collection of something else entirely? It was just better that way. That wasn't until much later though, when I'd sorted out some art history and gotten into it pretty heavily.

So there I am, back at the WAG looking at paintings. This is shortly after the comic show and I've decided I look different enough that they won't kick me out on sight. I go through the whole gallery, and nothing. Which is weird, there was some great art on the walls, I can't remember who but I remember wondering why none of it was getting to me. I'd be standing there admiring brush strokes and just kind of expecting something, even just a twinge. Warm hands, maybe. After an hour of this I start thinking about packing up, when all of a sudden it's on. I'm standing in front of a mediocre landscape painting, like something you'd find in a cabin somewhere. I kind of freaked out a bit. I guess it's one thing to find out you get happy from art, and quite another to think you get happy from bad art. So as I'm standing there freaking out about that, I realize there's some people in the next room. I can hear sneakers squeaking and low voices, and all of a sudden I'm really freaked out. I don't want to get caught again, you know? Bad enough to get booted once for conduct unbecoming, I think twice would have put me in jail for the night at least. So I ran through a few times tables in my head to cool things off and got out of there before I did anything stupid.

Later on at home I'm flipping through a monograph of William Turner when it hit me. Delayed, I know, but then my thought processes weren't exactly razor sharp at the scene. At first I kind of thought it was an exhibitionist thing, where I had to be around other people to get into it. That would have been pretty rough going as I'm sure most of the better galleries have a policy about that sort of behaviour. Thankfully that's not the case. Now don't ask me how this works, I've never gone for any sort of conclusive tests or anything, but basically the more people have gotten all beamy eyed at a painting, the more I get out of it. So Mona Lisa, if I looked at the original in the Louvre, would cause an international incident. So would The Persistence of Memory, or The Harvesters.

Don't bother looking around online to see if there's a community of folks like me, I'll tell you. There is, you just won't find it. The whole place has gotten a little chilly for me lately as a result of this post. I had to promise I wouldn't give out the name of our group, or any sort of contact information, even to people who said they were looking for others and thought they'd be alone and misunderstood their entire lives. It really sticks in my craw, but if I want to maintain my membership, and I do, I have to keep that promise. I understand the overall reticence from the community though. None of us want to be hounded and made into a laughingstock like the shape changing people or the furs.

In closing, I'd just like to advise everyone to leave that person alone. You know the one I mean, the one who went to the big show alone and didn't talk to anyone, just went right up to a painting and stayed there for way too long, probably blocked your view and maybe mumbled a bit. Yeah, they probably just said "I love you" to a painting, but it's none of your business is it?