She gave me a five star review, the woman who bought this portrait. 5 out of 5 stars! Of course I was delighted. Delighted that she loved it. Delighted that he would live in this wonderful home. A home doing the work. The work of equality. The work of trying to make this world a better place for everyone. Everyone. Because that’s what she does, that’s what she’s doing every day — fighting against racism. Spreading kindness. This is the truest beauty – the truest work of art.
Because it’s easy to do one thing. Paint one picture. Look what I did. I must be a good person. But it can’t end there. It must only begin here. The painting of a picture. The writing of an article. The marching in a parade. These are beginnings. The true differences come in the living. The day to day. Here is where we earn our stars, I suppose. In each conversation. Each hand extended. Each heart opened. Every day. Taking the time.
It was Marcel Duchamp who created the work of art entitled — “To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour.” I’m not sure anyone actually does it, looks through the “peeping” hole of the glass for almost an hour. Seeing it at MOMA, I didn’t do it. I have researched the piece, and critics a lot smarter than I am have come up with many descriptions of the piece, discussing cosmic, pseudo scientific realms… I don’t know… maybe. But I’ll tell you what it means for me. Maybe it’s too simple an explanation, but I’m not really sure it always has to be so complicated. Maybe it’s just about taking the time to look at things from a new perspective – someone else’s perspective – walk in their shoes… And in this time, this sometimes uncomfortable viewing, walking, we can gain a little empathy, a little more compassion, and we can, in this life, really earn our stars.
(Side note: My grandparents’ last name was Hvezda. Hvezda in Czech means star. Fitting, they were two of the kindest people. I don’t think it would be out of turn to say they didn’t know much about “art”, probably never heard of Duchamp, but they knew how to be human. How to be kind. How to take the time. I can feel them still, from the other side of the glass, and I will forever try to live up to the name.)