All You Need Is Art

An artist I know tells this true story: Soon after she married her third husband and they moved into their first house together, she claimed a spare room as her studio and made it clear to him where she stood. By this time in her life she was in her late-thirties and no longer the pretty young doormat she’d been in her previous marriages.

“This room,” she said to him, pointing to the spare room, “is for me and Art. Art is my first love. When I’m in there with Art and the door is closed, don’t disturb us, okay?

That marriage, happily, lasted thirty years – until that husband died of Parkinson’s in his late-sixties – and in those decades her career as an artist flourished. Among the reasons for their marital success, I’m guessing, is that he respected and supported her love for – and need for – Art.

This story makes me think there are two kinds of people in this world – those who make art, and those who make it possible for artists to make art. Supporters, that is; those who appreciate, applaud, purchase, and display their art collections. And in this crazy, swirling world, where it’s hard to make rational sense of things and where artists dare to lead the way in expressing the inexpressible, we all need art more than ever, I feel.

A sign at the doorway to artist Rodrigo Ayala Valerio’s gallery on Calzada la Aurora #19 in SMA

As I’ve written before in my blogposts, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I’ve lived for close to seven years now, is something of an artists’ and art-lovers’ haven. Like Taos, New Mexico, where I called home for many years before emigrating to Mexico, art galleries abound here. Art of all kinds is everywhere.

Year-round this city is splashed with vivid color – pink and orange and red and blue and green-painted building exteriors dripping with flowering plants of every hue, all beneath a dazzling cobalt sky. It’s as if this San Miguel was made by artists for artists.

Often on my daily walks I’ll stroll through the vast Fabrica la Aurora art and design center just outside of el centro, and I’ll pretend the many gallery spaces are a huge museum’s rooms. One gallery in particular, Gallery Aller, draws me in each time because of their especially eclectic selection of paintings and sculptures handsomely displayed:

This sculpture at Gallery Aller makes me think of all the ways we’ve had to bend over backward in our lives, just to get by
And this painting there makes me think of all the years I lived in NYC — the blocky grayness of it
When my friend Ron from L.A. (above) came to SMA to visit recently, he looked at a lot of art, ultimately deciding on this painting at Gallery Aller of a Mexican street food scene for his newly renovated kitchen

I cannot call myself an art patron. I don’t have the wherewithal to buy art nor the blank walls to call my own on which to hang it. Rather, I guess, I could more accurately call myself a watercolor-artist-wannabe, a perennial beginner. Every evening that I can I watch YouTube tutorials and try to follow the tutor. Incrementally, I’m learning by doing.

My most recent attempt at a still life

Why do I continue to stumble along like this, gripping my paint brushes like walking sticks? Because when I’m painting I think of nothing else; I’m utterly absorbed by it. Aches and pains don’t exist. Old insecurities and concerns about the future are lifted. For me, art is a balm. Art is not my first love, but “he” has become a warm and embracing lover.

If I were a rich girl – oh, and if I had the wall space — I know which piece of art I would buy. I’d race over to my artist friend Kathleen Cammarata’s studio here in SMA and purchase a large painting of hers that I’ve had my eye on for a long time, which depicts for me a golden, hopeful world beyond our imaginings:

Kathleen’s painting Hemisphere (part of a series)

Will such a world ever materialize? Not in my lifetime, for sure. But it’s the purpose of art, I think, to make us think, imagine, and dream of other/better things – whether we’re creating it or supporting its creation.

Written on the exterior wall of Rodrigo’s gallery




28 thoughts on “All You Need Is Art”

  1. Thanks for including the photos that clearly showcase art is much more than a distraction or diversion, that it is an addition. How insightful of you to recognize those who can support artists are contributing too. Here’s to changes that will soon see you with walls to display art. Your blogs are a weekly bright light. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the lovely photos as well as your insightful comments. Sure hope you have walls on which to display your own watercolors, soon.

  3. “By this time in her life she was in her late-thirties and no longer the pretty young doormat she’d been in her previous marriages.” I love this line!

  4. Another wannabe although not as diligent and tenacious as you! Thank you for recognizing the need for appreciators and supporters of the arts.

  5. BonnieDear, I’m in NYC visiting Ellie but took the time to enjoy your post about art. So true! And I also love the painting you’ve been yearning for! Ellie lives close to Riverside Park. Is that where you lived when you lived in NY or was it the East River? I couldn’t remember. Riverside is gorgeous right now and getting prettier every day. xoxo ~ Be

    1. Great to hear from you, Be! And I hope you and Ellie are able to enjoy the Big Apple together. Yes, I lived on 103rd and Riverside (in the tallest Art Deco building on Riverside Drive, The Master) for 20 years, and my studio apartment looked out over Riverside Park and the Hudson River. Beautiful! Have a great time — and give Ellie my love. — BB xx

  6. Dear Bon,

    I loved reading everything you said here.The school I teach in displays student work from every subject area. Every day I see the result of students expressing themselves across the range of mediums, and it bring us all fulfillment and joy. Unfortunately, in a country that respects only that which can be commodified, things can be a lot less joyful. The only effective response is to keep expressing yourself.


    1. Thank you, dearest Paul. How I’d love to be a fly on the wall of your school — especially before you retire from teaching. What fortunate students they are to have teachers like you who encourage their self-expression! — LU2, BB xx

  7. I absolutely loved reading that price in its own right it is a love story. I am a patron on a site in the uk and feel the same way about how art can capture or grab me and erase my troubles and at the same time when my mental health is not good we
    Fight and eventually we become friends again . Thank you for your words inspiring

  8. Wonderful Bonnie…San Miguel has given me a new way of loving art — in my own house! And your painting of it was the first artwork here! I look at it and love it everyday. xoxox

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