Seeing is Imagining
“Now that you’re living in San Diego, don’t you think you should have an oceanscape painting?” asked an artist friend of mine. “Yeaaah,” I replied in one of my eloquent moments. During my weekend trip to my house in Palm Springs, Michael Ross, my artist friend who resides in Morongo Valley, delivered to me the above oil painting, titled Jetty.
I returned to San Diego with my new painting (the oil still curing!), my spring/summer wardrobe, a cooler of food and a couple boxes of household goods another friend had given me. Before I put anything away, I went to my handy dandy toolbox and dug out a hammer, a tape measure, a level and picture hangers.
In my opinion, hanging artwork is a two-person job. But, also in my opinion, hanging new artwork won’t wait — even when it would be easier to have someone hold up the object to be hung while you stand back and say, “higher,” “lower,” “left,” “right,” “just a smidge higher [lower, left, right],” etc.
An additional challenge in this case was that I was hanging the painting behind the sofa that is too large and heavy for easily shoving out of the way. So I had to stand on the cushions, knowing full well that any of my tools, not to mention a dropped nail, could easily find its way behind the pillows, between the seat cushions or on the floor between the back of the sofa and the wall.
After propping the painting against the sofa pillows to eye its desired location on the horizontal plane, I began measuring for its ideal verticality. This was more difficult, owing to my inability to levitate objects like David Blaine. Sure enough, I got the painting hung and, when I stood back to admire my handiwork (as well as Michael’s talent and skill, of course), it was too low. I got back on the sofa, took the painting down and remeasured, remarked and renailed. This time, I succeeded in correct placement.
Before celebrating my accomplishment, however, I had to reconfigure my sofa-wall ensemble by turning two smaller, side-by-side paintings into a top-and-bottom pairing. Executing this task also required a measure, mark, nail, hang, take down, remeasure, remark, renail, rehang process. And there’s still a nail behind the sofa in the crevice between the carpet and baseboard that I will try to remember to retrieve when I ultimately move out of the apartment.
My own installation was a piece of cake compared to the installation I witnessed the following day when I visited the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. I was there to meet two artists — one from New York and the other from Michigan — who were setting up pieces they have in the Illusion: Nothing Is As It Seems exhibition opening this Saturday. (Look for my article on the exhibition in the August issue of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.)
I saw an entire crew of workers, in addition to the artists, who were setting up a funhouse maze of sorts. I also met the exhibition director from Ireland, who, incidentally, is in San Diego away from his wife during the 10-day setup that overlaps their first wedding anniversary. He described to me how the exhibition will be “slightly creepiesque” in its attempt to undermine our sense of reality.
I’m looking forward to experiencing the completed Illusion exhibition. I’ve long been fascinated by how our brains perceive things based on what our eyes see. It’s one of the reasons art intrigues people. When I look at a painting or sculpture, I imagine something beyond the object itself.