When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to take art lessons from Ramona Kelso. I remember Aunt Bert McLemore dropping me off at Ramona's studio, and for the next hour, I learned about shading, perspective, color and composition. Ramona was infinitely patient, had a wicked sense of humor, and genuinely loved helping others discover their own artistic talents.
My exposure to art in Mason at that time was pretty much limited to Winchester and Remington, with the occasional bluebonnet landscape thrown into the mix. When I got to UT Austin, I was able to go through their museums, and to galleries around town. My artistic universe grew by leaps and bounds.
Since those early years, I've been able to expand my exposure even more. There was the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I got to get up close to some of the most bizarre pieces I've ever seen. There was The Kimball in Fort Worth, with western themed art and traveling exhibitions. There was the Menil in Houston, with the beautiful Rothko Chapel, Rodin pieces and modern masters.
It would not be until several years later that I would have the opportunity to see the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, and the many galleries in the city. New York is a great location to see just about all types of artwork - painting, sculpture, mixed media - and to see styles from every school of art and artists who interpreted it in their own unique ways.
In Boston, one of my favorite museums, The Elizabeth Stuart Gardner, gave me the opportunity to see what happens when a person has the desire, and the means, to surround themselves with the art that they love. Mrs. Gardner, though wildly eccentric, knew that great art is a combination of what is good, and what excites the individual. As a plain looking woman moving in the highest levels of Boston society, she knew that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder; but, beauty can be redefined by context, environment and popular opinion.
There are the beautiful glass pieces of Dale Chihuly out of Seattle. The animalistic sculptures Gene and Rebecca Tobey. The Shamans of Bill Worrell, or the marquetry of Spider Johnson and Lora Hunt. Art appears in all mediums, in all types of presentations and in all types of situations.
I have been fortunate enough to see Rembrandts and Matisses. I've seen Etruscan vases, Chinese terracotta soldiers, Fabrege eggs, Tiffany lamps, and Calder mobiles. I've also seen east Texas chainsaw carvings that were beautiful and exciting, alongside pieces composed of farm materials welded together in fanciful creations. Some pieces may have been worth more than others; but, all of them are valuable in terms of artistic appreciation.
I don't have the budget to collect and display great masterpieces. I do have lots of prints of those artists that pique my interest, I have some Matt Hey pieces that are displayed in my office, and I have an appreciation for the many artists that have spent their lives creating pieces that will continue living even after they are gone.
I'm always intrigued when I walk into someone's house for the first time and see what art they have chosen. Some stick to one era or one style of art. Others make their selections based purely upon their affection for certain colors, textures or lines. No matter the reason for their choices, the art they choose is important to them, which makes it important, even in that limited scope.
So, even if you decorate your home with poker playing dogs and big-eyed children, or with an original Magritte, be proud of your choices and be open to learning about all the other artists and artworks that are out there. Even if you don't like some styles or some mediums, know that there are people who find those same pieces of art the most beautiful things they've ever seen.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and someone out there has found beauty in even the oddest of pieces. Give it a chance, and you may start to see the beauty shining through.
It’s all just my opinion.