The holiday season has a lot to do with light. Finding the light, seeking the light, and basking in the light of our friends, our families and the special spirituality of the season. A time for reflection, imagination and for seeing the world for more than the mundane, we often mistake it for. How wonderful it would be if we took that with us into 2016!
Taking the time to see beyond the normal and the known, reminds me of a series of works I did called SEEING THE LIGHT. It was based upon a lighthouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario called the Pump House, Lighthouse.
My goal was to take the lighthouse and paint it first in a very realistic form and then let it morph into the world that I love so well — the abstract. The hope was that by giving the viewer something realistic to grab onto first, that they would be able to find their way into the less real form and find the endless world beyond it. To find…the light.
What inspired me for this idea was a lady I encountered – not a day under seventy – when I was doing a show in Toronto at the Hangman Gallery. She walked by the front of the gallery, looked puzzled at the piece I had placed in the window and then continued on her way.
A few minutes later she returned. Studied the piece a little more. Quickly glanced in the doorway. Then scurried off.
About ten minutes later she returned yet again. She looked at the piece and this time made a more concerted effort to look in the doorway. But she stayed decidedly on the sidewalk. This time, instead of ignoring her, I said: “Come on in and look around”.
Sheepishly and guardedly she entered the space.
I gave her a moment to look around. She quickly went from piece to piece still looking puzzled. So she had me puzzled a bit too. I eventually went to her with a smile and said: “That piece in the window got your attention did it?” To which she replied: “Well, yes … I keep wanting to look at it but … you see … I just don’t understand what it is … I just don’t get it.”
I explained to her that in abstract art it doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. It could or it could not. Better yet, it could mean many different things.
Again, the puzzled look. This time even stronger, and now with a furrowed brow.
So I took her to a piece and asked her what she thought it was. “I have no idea” she laughed embarrassingly. I said “Well …“ and went on to describe to her what another couple had told me earlier when they were looking at it. She then lit up and said: “Oh … I see what they mean … .”
Finally! She had something to grasp on to and proceeded to show me how she understood; pointing out the image found within that the couple earlier had described. I then gave her another example of someone else’s comments and she saw that too. Then I told her what I had actually meant to paint. And she could see that too! With a deep breath and very triumphantly, she then had the courage to say: “… Would you like to know what I think I see?“ I smiled and nodded and then she told me. Instantly I could see exactly what she saw and happily showed her very clearly how I could see that too.
It completely vindicated her thoughts.
She was beaming.
And it made my heart soar.
Well, there was no stopping her now! We went from painting to painting finding what was inside, and we were able to validate our understanding to each other each time. After about a half hour or forty-five minutes later, she thanked me profusely for my time and the discussion and she left the gallery as if walking on air.
I never saw her again.
It made me so happy to know that this older woman – who had likely walked by contemporary or abstract art, afraid of it, all of her life – had finally found the meaning (or even better, the joyous lack thereof). A way in.
To this day I see her in my mind going to galleries, engaging the works or the artists, and seeing and experiencing art in a way like never before. And it always puts a smile on my face.
May 2016 be just that for you! A time when you see the light in whatever or whoever you see. May you let your imagination run loose and may you allow your eyes and mind to see like the innocent child you once were. To take in all the awe and wonder that is before us. When you look. When you really look. And see not just what is there, but all that which is precious lying beneath and beyond.
Happy Holidays and a happy, safe and healthy 2016!
All Images Are © Àndrew Stelmack
Àndrew Stelmack Artist Bio Andrew lives in Toronto, Ontario Canada. You can see his ever evolving artwork through his various solo and group shows in Toronto as well as through the many galleries carrying his work in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Oakville. His works are found in many private and corporate collections and his work has been presented as gifts to Ministers and Members of Canada’s Federal Parliament.
Blog / Website: astelmack.com