One of the many trails that wend their way through Ithaca is the Art Trail. (The town finds waypoints on the wine and beer trails of the southern tier as well, but we were looking for visual art.) In early October several artists open their studios—these are personal places—to the tourists passing through. Those of us on the trail are seeking inspiration in human expression. I’ve neglected my own art for many years. While other guys my age are retiring and expressing their boredom, I struggle to find enough time to write, dreaming of the day when I can again take up my pencils and brushes. Being in so many studios over the weekend jump-started something in me. Humans are at their most god-like when they create.
Seeing artists in context is revealing. They don’t worry too much about convention. I found myself hanging toward the back of our little group. There was so much of others’ souls on display here. While some were young, a fair number were older than me. Perhaps retired from a novocaine job that dulled many days until enough years had passed and the need to let the art out escaped. If felt like visiting a small farm where the true independent, liberal spirit of this country once resided. These were farmers with paint brushes rather than shotguns and Trump bumperstickers. Free thinkers, not Fox thinkers. Under a sky October blue after two days of rain and gray, this was a mosaic of autumn. Art is a muse. I think of my neglected brushes and dried out paints, tucked away in the attic.
Modern art sometimes feels like someone slapped a frame around something random, but in talking with the creator something different emerges. Something that doesn’t feel like plastic. Something that defies words. Like poems sometimes break conventional lines, art refuses to be confined. Some of these studios used to be living rooms. Houses converted and dedicated to creativity. Why is this so difficult to accomplish in my own life? How has the time come to be consumed with work, even when the commute has been effaced? I suppose I’ve been using words to express myself—this blog is certainly an example of that. It is, however, a mere fraction of visual ideas awaiting release. I don’t know if I could ever open my studio to strangers. Art trails are labyrinths, and once you’ve entered that maze, it will take some time to reemerge. And when I do I know I will have been transformed.