A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

The Way I See It: Small Town Art Museums

March 22, 2015
No one is forming a line to get in. The large space with the very high ceiling and white walls is gray, cold, and deadly silent. You could hear the sound of your own breathing and your own footsteps in the almost empty space. The paintings hanging on the walls are so ordinary, so lifeless, and so empty, like boring people who have no emotions to share and are just superficially discussing today’s weather with each other. The paintings are depthless, with nothing new about them. It is as though you have seen them somewhere else or you may have even seen them everywhere. I am thinking to myself that this art – it doesn’t do a thing to me or for me. It doesn’t stir any emotions or make me feel anything, and for certain, it is not able to do its duty as art. It does not take you on an emotional journey. It feeds no one’s soul, thoughts, or intellect. It is just there, as a collection of canvases, saturated and heavy with paint. It has been old and dead for a very long time, and now it is being buried in a cemetery of a small town’s museum. Yes, I am here to tell you that I am walking around on a cloudy, gloomy day in one of southern California’s small town museums. I ask myself, “Why is it that the curators of these small town museums always come up with such a unexciting exhibitions for their public?” It is as though the curators walked into a ghost town and found everyone sleep, and now they just do not dare to make a noise, afraid to wake everyone up, afraid to shock, afraid to create waves. God forbid someone might be offended with the kind of art that is not very ordinary and predictable. God forbid the public could be offended with the truth and daringness of a piece of art. The art might even make them look inward and be disturbed or even feel pain. But I say to that: don’t underestimate the level of a small town’s public endurance of any aspect of daringness and truth in art. Clean the dust from the old collections, open the windows in the old, dark, empty small town museums, and let a breath of fresh air come in.

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