“That’s Art?!?”

A friend and I were viewing an installation piece.  As we were walking away, a young man in his teens said to what I think was his mother, “That’s art?  Really?  I don’t get it?  Why would someone call that art?”  The mother responded, “There is no accounting for some people’s taste.”

The quote “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” originated in 3rd century Greece and is as true today as it was then.  People see things in different ways.  But that statement doesn’t just extend to art.  It can be said about literature, music, architecture, fashion, design of utilitarian objects, food, etc.

It comes down to perception.  Something that I perceive as beautiful… interesting… euphonic… classical…. elegant…. functional… tasty…. etc. others may find disturbing… boring… loud… vulgar… disgusting… etc.  As exciting as it is to find others who enjoy similar art, music, food, etc., it would be a very boring world if we all liked the same things.  I personally think that the differences are sometimes more interesting than the similarities.

This past spring, I reconnected with an old friend.  When he found out that I was an artist, he told me that he didn’t know much about art but he knew what he liked.  I think that we are innately drawn to certain things.  As many of my friends and family know, I gravitate towards color, especially deep reds and rusty oranges.  My brother loves spicy foods.  One of my friends is into all things French.  Another loves birds.

In my level 2 creativity class we look at the work from professional artist’s in the PBS Art 21 Series.  I require my students to read Seth Godin’s blog from June 26, 2013 entitled “You don’t have to like new art, but it helps to understand it” before we look at any of the artist’s work.  I want to make it very clear to my students that I don’t expect them to like everything that they see; but, that they have to respect the time and energy it took to create the artwork.  And as Seth Godin says so eloquently in the blog, “Denigrating art you don’t understand doesn’t hurt the art–it reveals something about your willingness to learn.”

And this brings me back to the original story I started with.  There were many installations at this site.  Of all of them, that particular one was my least favorite.  It did not speak to me.  However, I appreciated the time, energy and creativity it took to make this piece of art.  Although it did not speak to me, I know that it will speak to someone else.  Because we are all different and we are all drawn to different things.

This experience helped to remind me that when we are talking about art or the things we find beautiful or not so beautiful, our ability to appreciate the differences and the work that went into the object, speaks volumes about us and our willingness to learn.

What do you find beautiful?

Travel or Getting a New Perspective

As a child when asked what I was going to be when I grew up the answer was that I was going to be a race car driver or an explorer/adventurer.  I have always wanted to explore as much of this planet as possible.  I think this early yearning to explore has helped shape me as an adult…. it has helped me develop a love of travel.

The word “Travel” is a verb and if you remember English class, verbs signify action.  When I Googled the definition of the word “Travel” it was defined as to “make a journey, typically of some length or abroad.”  One cannot travel without moving.  When a person is in motion or has changed where they are…..their perspective is changed.

Recently I went on a trip to visit my brother and his family, who live in a different state than I do.  While staying with them, I was invited to a dinner with them and some of their friends.  It was a delightful evening.  Interesting people, flavorful wine, delicious food and excellent conversation.  At one point, the subject of travel came up.  One of the couples had recently been to Ireland.  A year ago this month, I spent two weeks in Japan.  My brother and sister-in-law had just returned from a trip to New York City.

One person had stated that in her day-to-day life she has to keep so many things organized and going.  Children to school…their extra-curricular activities…..the day job……social events….maintaining the home….and the list goes on and on.  I have noticed this juggling act in my own life and have witnessed the amazing organizational skills of my sister-in-law.  When one travels there is a sense of freedom from the organized chaos that is every day life.  I’m not saying that one doesn’t have to do some planning or make reservations when one goes on a trip.  But the reality is that the everyday chores and demands are not there.  Yes, one has to go back to those responsibilities, but for a while one has a break.

I think it is this break from the everyday routine that allows one to shift their perception.  This perception shift allows for greater creativity.  One has the opportunity to experience a different culture….. taste new flavors….. see different art…… participate in activities that one wouldn’t normally do…… and so much more.  These opportunities and experiences color the way we look at our world when we return.

Hopefully this break allows one to recharge and relax.  When we come back to the organized chaos of our day-to-day life, we have a fresh perspective.  Problems that seemed impossible suddenly become manageable.  One is energized and ready to tackle whatever creative activity that they pursue.

Everyone needs a break.  Everyone needs a chance to relax and recharge.  And sometimes one just needs to get out of town.

56 Miles Hiked!

In a previously posted blog, I shared my goal of hiking 50 miles along trails before the end of Labor Day weekend.  I am proud to share that I reached my goal and hiked a total of 56.36 miles!

I want to thank all of my friends, Bunny, Joan, Christi, Jenn, and Megan, for going hiking with me at various times and places throughout the summer.  Without all of you, I would not have accomplished my goal.  It was wonderful to share the trails and hiking experiences with all of you!  I am grateful for having so many people in my life willing to go hiking with me!

Memorial Falls #1Trout Creek #3Devil's Glen #1

Memorial Falls, Trout Creek Canyon and the Dearborn River along the Devil’s Glen Trail.

Hiking to me is not only a way to be physically active; but, a chance for me to see parts of the world that are not visible from a car or train.  By my own energy, on my own two feet, I get to see places that not everyone gets to see.  I can go as fast or slow as I need to.  The beauty is there waiting for me.

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Sometimes you just have to put your feet in the water!  The Dearborn River at the Devil’s Glen.

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Hiking the Ascension Peak and Wonderland Trails near Helena.

I know that the photos I’ve added to this post are very beautiful.  I had the very difficult task of choosing one or two pictures from each hike.  These photos do not compare to actually being there.  While hiking the Steamboat Mountain Lookout Trail with my friend Christi, it seemed like every mountain pass or turn in the trail there was another breath-taking vista before you.  No matter where you looked it was pristine beauty.

On another hike with my friend Joan, we hiked to Rock Creek Lake.  It seemed like we had been walking forever through trees when we came to a bridge and we knew we had to be close to the lake.  So we walked up over this hill and there it was.  So peaceful and beautiful.  This was also the same day that we saw three badgers on the way to the hike.  You never know who or what you may run into on the trail.

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Rock Creek Lake and a view of the mountains from the Continental Divide Trail.

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Two of the four waterfalls that can be seen along the Willow Creek Falls Trail.

One of my friends and I have been hiking together for years.  We observed that you develop trail stories.  They often start with….. remember that time when we were hiking ….. and goes into a story that happened on the trail.  These experiences are as unique as the flora and fauna that we see along the trail.  You can hike a trail many times and still see something new.

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Two different views from the trail to the Steamboat Mountain Lookout.

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Two additional scenes along the trail to Steamboat Mountain Lookout.

I have been hiking in rain, snow, sleet, hail and extreme heat.  I don’t mind incremental weather.  As I recently stated to a friend while we were hiking, the worst day on the trail is better than the best day in the office.

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Double rainbow on the Steamboat Mountain Lookout Trail and Sulphur Springs from Sulphur Springs Trail.

History, geology, botany, wildlife biology, diverse ecosystems, geography are just a few things you can learn about when hiking.  It is also a chance for you to learn about yourself and what you are capable of accomplishing.  Climbing that mountain.  Identifying that scat or track.  Crossing that river.  Identifying that berry.  Learning that you are capable of reaching goals.

Hiking is one of my passions.  My challenge to you is to find what makes you excited.  What are you passionate about?  What kind of goals can you set for yourself?  How can your passion help you grow as a person?  See where your passion and excitement can take you.  If you decide that hiking is a passion, I look forward to meeting you along the trail.