Rodin and Mary Pratt

rodinIf you have the chance to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia between now and May 22, don’t let it pass you by. Jenny and I took the morning off to spend a couple hours roaming the gallery, and it was exactly what we needed. We’re feeling totally energized and at peace right now. It was amazing.

We spent the first hour and a half looking at Rodin bronze sculptures, the real deal — you know, the guy who did The Thinker? Man, seeing those things up close and personal is an experience that cannot be reproduced. The bronze sculpture of two hands touching (called The Cathedral) left me stunned. I thought The Thinker or even The Kiss would have got me good. But nope, it was those huge hands shaped like a cathedral (both right hands I later discovered) that moved me the most. For the first few minutes, I was so drawn to it and oblivious to everything going on around me, I didn’t bother to read the title. When I did, I had one of those moments where you say, “Holy shit, ” in total awe of the experience. “The Cathedral” is the perfect title for that sculpture. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it.
Mary Pratt - Jelly Shelf (2003)

But what really choked me up was the Mary Pratt paintings, like the one shown here. It looks like a photograph (click it to enlarge it), but up close you can see the actual brush strokes. The effect of slowly walking back from the painting as it reveals itself is so dramatic, I don’t know what to tell you except that you have to see it to believe it…

Then I got hit by what I was looking at: Mason jars full of home-made jam; a day’s catch of herring (which could have easily been trout) spread out on a backyard deck; a kitchen table set for breakfast; a carrot cake or some kind of fruit cake, one of those large ones with a hole in the middle and icing sugar frosting on the top, with a huge piece cut out of it — all of it food, I guess, but objects that are so specific to life on the Atlantic coast, especially Newfoundland… man, she nailed it. Most of my family is from Newfoundland, and I spent almost a decade of my adult life living there. What can I tell you? I identify so intimately with the subjects of her paintings, I know them all so well, I came close to crying looking at those stupid Mason jars.

Talk about art… I’m done talking. It was the best four dollars I’ve spent in a long time.