WHERE HAVE ALL THE WALLFLOWERS GONE

One day when I was about 10, I came home from school. The weather outside was lousy. So I decided to stay in. I sat myself down in the living room, pretending to do my homework but instead watching cartoons and The Three Stooges on our old Zenith TV.

At dinnertime, my sister, mother and I, as usual, would sit down to eat in the living room. My father, the artist Lou Hirshman, was not there as he taught weekday evenings at a free art school. This evening as I was raising a fork to my mouth, I noticed my mother sitting across the table staring at me with a quizzical expression. She asked me if I saw anything new in the room, a room I had been lounging and wasting the afternoon away in. I looked around and shrugged my shoulders.

Then I saw my mother glance quickly to the wall above the couch, then back at me. So I looked at the wall as well.

Suddenly I understood her behavior. There in a wooden frame was a new art piece my father had created. It was his caricature of the Cold War Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a wonderful piece sparingly fashioned using a mere seven found objects. It was an eye-catching work – that had not caught my eye. My blindness was not a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.” The Castro piece was very much in sight. But not to me.

Why didn’t I see this wonderful piece of art my father had spent months working on?

Walls.

Walls are utilitarian. At home – aside from a physical means of separating family members from killing each other and being something to bump into  in the dark of night when you get up to use the bathroom – their only real reason for existing are surfaces to  hang our big screen TVs on. Not only in living rooms, but kitchens, bedrooms, even bathrooms. We stare at these screens for hours.

But the walls – and anything hanging on them – remain unseen. At least by me, and, I suspect, many others.

When was the last time that you went to someone’s home, to an office or public building, perhaps a hotel room, and noticed any art work that might be hanging on the walls and then take the time to appreciate – or deride – the art?  My guess is rarely. Confront someone who has just left such a room about the art on the walls, most would say, “What artwork?”

We – or most of us – simply don’t look at walls. Except when we visit an art gallery or museum, structures that are basically blank canvases with roofs.

Art pieces on walls are rarely noticed, rarely appreciated, rarely loved.

They are wallflowers.

So the next time you go to an indoor space, check to see if the walls have found more of a reason for existing than to close off spaces and the people in them. Take the time to look at any art you see on the walls. In many cases, those walls will disappear as you are taken on journey through the vision of the artists – and watch the wallflowers bloom.

 

 

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