When Dani (my sister) was dating Jason (my brother-in-law), Jason's brother was having an art exhibit in Salt Lake (Jason and Dani might have been married already, the detail isn't important to the story). I think I was nineteen or something and I probably didn't have any friends at the time because I've never been popular (I know, you're thinking: how can that be?). So I went to the art exhibit with Jason and Dani. They probably didn't invite me, but I went anyway (yeah, that's the kind of kid I was).
I've always enjoyed art and at the time I'm sure I thought I knew a lot about it because I'd taken a few classes in high school. I'd studied my share of the big guys. And I'd also seen a good deal of art hanging on people's walls. Usually I thought it sucked because it wasn't Monet or Manet or Degas or Vermeer (how many can I name? Oh, believe me, I could go on for hours). Obviously I have a different understanding of art now, but back then I had your typical nineteen-year-old's grasp on art. The grasp of the nineteen-year-old who wasn't the art valedictorian.
Jared's show was small and unassuming. I don't think they had hor d'oeuvres or wine or anything. They're supposed to have that, right? And there was your typical art gallery curator (are they called curators?) hanging around in an impeccable suit, hovering over us. My memory is hazy, but I'm sure I felt compelled to inform him that I wasn't a potential buyer, so he would stop hanging around like a vulture. Or maybe he just wanted to be ready for any questions and since we were probably the only people in the gallery, we got the special treatment.
Maybe it's because I rarely go to contemporary art shows, but Jared's stuff killed me. He does western landscapes and being a westerner, perhaps it's no surprise that I'm pulled into his work. Now that I'm older and have been to the big time museums like the Met and, uh, the Met, I've seen work on large canvases, not just the reduced pictures in books. That probably makes a difference. As well, I've always loved the stuff of the Hudson River School painters. All I'm saying is that maybe it's in line with my taste.
That day in Salt Lake, I realized how a painting can swallow you. I wanted to live inside one. Literally. Many of the canvases were large and I probably would have fit. Until that moment I didn't understand what it meant to feel the life of a painting. What it means, I think, is that it stirs the life inside of you. Honestly, I think Goya's work is great, but when I see the painting of the The Third of May, I don't think, "Oh yeah, I hear you. I feel what you're saying and I'm going to start a revolution." Or even, "Yeah man, what happened was terrible." I see it and think, hmmm. Cool. Nice pants (and if that makes me shallow, well).
But when I saw one of Jared's paintings, I finally understood how big the western sky is. It's big. Really big. And that's more than what I've gotten from most works of art.