One of the most enjoyable parts of being a studio artist during an art crawl is all the great people watching. I especially enjoy the little kids. One little darling in particular still resonates, no more than four or five years old. White lace cuffs on her stockings edged the tops of her red and white checkered tennis shoes. Pink ballet tights were topped by a tutu. Bouncy blonde pigtails peeked out of her white straw hat, which she proudly wore upside down. Now here was a woman who knew what she wanted! In she strutted, sketchbook and pencil in hand. "Can I draw your pictures?"
I watched with fascination while she, her mom, aunt, and grandmother strolled through our studio. "Oh, I really like that! I would hang it over my cat's bed.... How 'bout that one, Gramma? You could put it in your bathroom. Mommy, let's get the picture of the flowers. I really like flowers." Her delight was infectious. In no way was this munchkin going to let someone else’s tastes influence her preferences.
I've not been able to quit thinking about her. My art colleagues and I often share stories about potential clients who come, see, talk, return, and talk some more about a piece of work that engages them. It’ll be a piece that makes them happy or thoughtful. Sometimes it reminds them of a special place they’ve visited or it evokes a special time in their lives. The potential art buyer will even admit that the price is affordable. "But let me bring in my (fill in the blank: girl friend, mom, next door neighbor).” I'm not talking here about someone who shares living space with Potential Art Buyer. I understand why both parties should agree on what they're gong to live with. But I’ve always been curious about the need to have someone else validate one’s taste. Are Minnesotans really that unsure of art? After all, I know folks who've purchased jewelry, clothing, and sofas even if said friend said "uh uh, nope."
Maybe what’s needed is permission to let go and return to our five-year-old selves when we did what we did because it made us happy and not because someone else approved of it.