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Art is a strange beast. So many forms. So many tastes. Sometimes you have no idea what great art is until it sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder.
A few weeks ago, after reading about a really cool photography exhibit at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, I pouted to my wife about how far away the place is and how I'd never have time to just, "haul off and drive to Youngstown."
"I know," said Kristin. "I already have to drive Sylvia to some place called 'Boardman' at the end of the week to catch a ride to Pittsburgh with a friend from there."
I'm no geographical genius, but I do know what direction one must travel to end up in Pittsburgh, and it turns out that Boardman is exactly 15 minutes away from the museum in Youngstown. I kept secret my intentions while booking myself into Kristin's travel plans and, once we dropped Sylvia off, we headed to the exhibit. (Note to Valentine's Day shoppers: This type of maneuver, while ultimately self-serving, wins huge bonus points on the romantic spontaneity index.)
The Butler, centered on the campus of Youngstown State University, is nothing short of magnificent. We'd barely made it in the door before stopping dead in our tracks in front of a full wall of paintings by Andrew Wyeth -- a favorite for both of us. All throughout the building were works of great American masters, many familiar and many that were new to us. Sprinkled throughout the halls were sculptures of various forms and styles and which we generally looked at, but rarely truly admired. We agreed that our lives as "flat artists" (painting and photography) probably skewed our appreciation away from three-dimensional work. Still, there was one sculpture, a four-times-life-sized girl sleeping with her head on a beach ball, by artist Carole Feuerman that just blew us away!
"Whoa!" I said taking a step backward as the piece appeared through the doorway. "That looks so real I actually want to pinch her to see if she's alive!"
"I know," Kristin replied. "We have to get a picture with her!"
"Um, I don't know," I said, knowing that many museums are camera averse and strictly prohibit such shenanigans. I pointed to the opposite doorway where an elderly looking museum guard dozed in a folding chair. "Wouldn't you know it? The only guard I've seen in the whole place is sitting right over there!"
"Well, yeah, but he's asleep." She shrugged. "He'll never know the difference,"
With that, we sneaked around to a spot just out of his view and snapped a giggling selfie, delighted with the idea of putting one over on "The Man."
It wasn't until we walked right past the guard as we left the room that we realized "The Man" had, in fact, put one over on us! The guard, whose nametag so appropriately read "Art," was actually a shockingly lifelike sculpture by artist Marc Sijan. We'll never underestimate the power of 3-D again!