Soft and Friendly Shocks

Friday, December 18, 2020


Mark Baum, watercolor and graphite pencil


One of my favorite art museums is the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. I’ve only been there twice, but each time, I felt like my life was sort of blown apart, but in a soft and friendly way. For me, it was a totally shocking place, but the shock came with a feeling of gentleness and liberation. When I was at this museum, I felt somehow renewed, rehabilitated, and even reeducated as I went from room to room. There was newness in each room, on every wall, on every pedestal, in every installation – and there was courage, too, the courage of the artists to let feelings fly and obstacles disappear and just make what your heart wants to make. 

The paintings above, by Mark Baum, are small examples of the freshness and freedom I felt in the rooms of the Whitney Museum.  They have the honest liveliness of pictures a child might make. It’s like the artist decided that having fun was more important than making  masterpieces – that letting your love of shapes and colors go free was better than trying to be the best artist in town. I could feel that Mark Baum had fun creating these endearing pieces, and I felt nothing but unbinding cheerfulness as I walked through the rooms of the Whitney Museum.  


Yesterday, we enjoyed another kind of lovely shock – a cheerful snowfall, the first of the season. It started with winds and a few flakes on Wednesday evening, and then roared through the night and all of yesterday. We felt fortunate to be warm and safe inside, peaceful spectators of a soft, sensational performance.

I stayed inside the entire day, wrapped in warmth, but stalwart Delycia ventured out to do some serious snow-raking, using a very long rake to drag hunks of snow off the roof.


During the storm, the birds enjoyed feasting on seed in the feeder outside the sunroom, as in the painting by Melani Pyke, below …

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