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January 26, 2022 - Joy Reed Belt

"Boat at Louisbourg Nova Scotia" by Nan Sheets - Currently on Consignment

Yesterday, in the middle of an important ZOOM call, my elegant Sony laptop began to malfunction. The words “Battery is Dying,” appeared on my screen. I tried to stay calm and keep my face visible to the other callers while simultaneously reaching under the desk to make sure the plug was firmly in the outlet, hoping this would solve my problem. Alas, within a few minutes the computer screen went totally blank and I quickly switched the Zoom call to my cell phone. When the meeting was over, I called Dan, the tech support person who has kept me technologically relevant for the past two decades, to schedule a time when he could come to my house to examine and fix my laptop. He asked if it was the Sony laptop that I purchased when my office was on Western. When I said “yes,” he reminded me how old it was and told me that I would need a replacement. I was shocked and saddened. “My wonderful little laptop is gone?” It didn’t seem possible. I started thinking about all the trips we had taken together over the years; all the valuable information it had stored for me and how it was always happily available every hour of every day. Telling myself that it was only a machine and it could be replaced with a new laptop with more amenities didn’t make me feel any better. In fact, I became acutely aware that I was grieving the loss of an inanimate object. 

"Rock Solid" by JRB 

Struggling to put my loss in perspective I rationalized that people often had passionate love affairs with their cars and trucks. However, it wasn’t until 1999, with the release of a radically new smartphone, Blackberry, that most of my friends began having love affairs with their phones. In fact, Blackberries were commonly referred to as Crackberries because they were so addictive. Over the past two decades, the number of inanimate objects to which we have become addicted, has increased exponentially. We humans shed our entire layer of skin every 2-4 weeks, however we find it extremely difficult to rid ourselves of our devices, even after they die. I certainly experienced that difficulty yesterday handing over my little Sony laptop to Dan to wipe clean and destroy. Last night I had dinner with a friend from New York who told me how hard it was to get her two daughters to give away old clothes and other things they no longer used to make room for all the new stuff they got this past Christmas. But my friend was determined to channel Marie Kondo. She insisted that the girls only keep what they absolutely loved. Ultimately, she and the girls filled six large garbage bags as well as several recycle containers with stuff they no longer used, needed or loved. The following week my friend was tasked with cleaning out a room at work and struggled with whether or not she should throw away a 1949 Sotheby’s catalog in which the grandmother of her boss had written auction notes. Deciding what to keep and what to throw away can be complicated. 



 Finn's Gate" by Eric Michaels - Currently on Consignment

At the Gallery, we get calls every week from people who have art they no longer enjoy and/or art they have inherited asking what they should do with it.  At some level they realize that while they may not want to keep a particular piece, they want to make sure they do the right thing.  I think that is because we all realize that art has meaning and purpose that exists beyond its role as an object. Art has a multigenerational lifespan, in part, because of its emotional content and the emotional support it provides. For instance, several years ago, a friend who has a residence in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, asked me to create a painting of the mountains for him.  I subsequently completed the painting and gave it to him as a Christmas present. Yesterday, I was talking to a media consultant in Norman, Oklahoma and she mentioned that she had a painting of mine in her home that she and her family loved viewing. She has it displayed near her children’s homework desk. Since there are not that many of my paintings floating around, I asked her where she got it.  She said that she purchased it at an Arts Festival in Colorado. So it seems that the life trajectory of my modest painting is as follows: After being created in my little studio on The Paseo it was hung in a home in Colorado for several years before being donated to a non-profit. The non-profit sold it at an arts festival. It was then purchased by a thoughtful and loving mother to encourage creativity in her children. In my mind my painting has had an admirable life journey. So, when you are sorting through all the stuff that can be acquired over a lifetime, from my perspective, it’s alright to give away whatever is no longer necessary or no longer feeds your soul. But if it’s art that you are deaccessioning, think about placing it where you are confident it can and will have another life. 


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