Sunday, September 13, 2009


Walt and I haven't been to London together in several years, but we have visited that city enough times that I almost feel comfortable wandering around town, knowing approximately where I am in the busy parts and how to get where I want to go.

London is our town of "splurge." We splurge on theatre. We always have a theatre orgy when there, seeing a play a night. There may be one or two plays that we want to see and are willing to pay high prices for (we saw Lion King for the first time in London and also managed to get tickets for the very popular Sunset Blvd because Betty Buckley, who was playing Norma Desmond, had taken a few days off and so we saw her understudy (thus tickets were easier to get).

Usually, however, we go to Leicester Square, where there is a low-cost ticket booth, like TKTS in Times Square in New York. We buy whatever sounds good or, in some cases, kind of a pig in a poke. I remember once I had seen that Derek Jacobi was appearing in a play and we were able to find tickets at the booth in Leicester Square. (Ironically, the people sitting directly behind us at that performance were friends from The Lamplighters in San Francisco -- we didn't even know they were traveling, nor did they know that we were in London).

We've seen some traditional British comedies just because there were tickets available for half price in Leicester Square. We happened to see Anthony Hopkins in M. Butterfly because Walt was able to get tickets at Leicester Square. (We've also seen a couple of real dogs as well, but that's part of the experience.)

But perhaps the best Leicester Square ticket was for the only show that happened to have a Sunday matinee. We were faced with amusing ourselves or going to see a production of the playArt, which I knew almost nothing about, other than that it had a rotating cast and the "name" star for the show currently running in London was Judd Hirsch. It turned out to be my favorite play of all we had seen on that trip.

The plot sounds kind of silly. It's a cast of three. The main character, Hirsch, has purchased a painting that he is thrilled about. It has cost him a very large sum of money and he invites his friends to see the huge painting which, when it is revealed is a white canvas. All white. Hirsch raves and raves about how much it means to him and his friends try to point out what a dumb painting it is. Somehow this keeps your interest over two acts and at the end, when the light shifts to focus on the painting, on a mostly darkened stage, it takes your breath away. You suddenly see what Hirsch's character saw in the painting. It's nothing you can describe; you have to experience it. I could not believe how moved I was by it.

The play pretty much explains my relationship with art. I'm one of those people who knows what I like, but can't tell you why. I might like a Van Gogh as much as the painting of a decanter of wine and a glass, which sits on my mother's wall, and which was painted by a neighbor many years ago. I can't tell you why I like the things that I like. I liked Thomas Kincaide before he became the Carolyn Keene of the art world (she was the supposed author of the Nancy Drew mystery books, but was really a whole bunch of writers mass produced books under that name). What I liked in his paintings was how he handled light...which made me a real sucker for the old Dutch masters and the beautiful contrast between light and dark in their paintings (especially when seen up close and personal)

vermeer.jpg (183508 bytes)

Basically, I don't understand "art" and don't know what to look for, I just know what I like, but I can be transported away by beautiful sea scapes, transfixed by most of the Impressionists, and even mesmerized by the big eyes of Keane paintings.

keaneyes2.jpg (13198 bytes)keaneyes.jpg (9053 bytes)

One of my very favorite art experiences was touring the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Van Gogh is the only artist I've ever "studied" (as much as I study anything) and had read books about him and actually knew what I was looking at when I took the tour of all the paintings.

I often wish I could discuss "art" in some sort of intelligent manner, but basically I just like pretty pictures, or pictures that move me, or pictures that make me smile.

I suppose that that's better than nothing!

1 comment:

Mary Z said...

Art is truly in the eye of the beholder! And if YOU don't like it, it doesn't matter what anybody else says about it.