Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out & About: Art Show, Wal-Mart and Stuff

As part of our out and about Saturday, Beth and I stopped at Wal-Mart. We sought something specific that has eluded Beth at various other stores.

I've only been in Wal-Mart a couple of times. We had to go there when in West Virginia, because in WV, Wal-Mart represents everything possible. And much that is impossible. Around here, other choices exist, at least for now. Only fairly recently did I discover that a Wal-Mart exists so close by, just the next town over, on the Lowell-Chelmsfored line.

A group of Girl Scouts were selling cookies out front. I realize the cookies are putatively for a good cause—the question is how the mon is spent, only something like 10% goes to the troop itself—but why do people speak of the cookies with awe, as if they differed from the usual yuck displayed on supermarket shelves?

I expected a greeter but no one met us at our entrance. I guess they 'd be pretty busy, with all the people rushing in. Beth enquired of someone with a name tag to where she might narrow her search, and that person gave polite directions. The store, tho, seemed overwhelming. Not so much its size, but the demanding industry it fosters. The aisles are narrow, giving a sense of product reaching out at you. I saw a lot of stuff. Stuff, I tell you. It all lunged at me.

The floors were stained and dirty. Such a whip-crack organization, you'd think they could muster some cleaning. The stains really seemed telltale. And I might say that the employees looked stained and dirty, as well. Likewise the customers. Wal-Mart's production line feels ruthless. I realize that these impressions were bestirred even before I entered, but a fair look validates the prediction. The turbine is heartless.

Wal-Mart circles around the idea that there is stuff that people need. Not only that, there is stuff that people need to need. Works for both employees and customers. Provide incentives that seem like necessities, be it a 60” flat screen or a seven cent raise with Sundays off, and let them see the penalties for defaulting. Marx would tell you there it is for all of us, and he's right. Wal-Mart just squeezes harder.

Further north, we made our ritual obeisances to Costco. I don't mean to be promotional and shan't furnish commodious likes that Facebook can use as currency. The Costco experience is just nicer, even yesterday when it was crowded and pushy. Sure they have 60” flat screens, but at least you can see the door.

Once we put the swag away, we toddled off to an art gallery opening. I have remarked before on this gallery in Acton. Located across the street from one of Acton's proliferation of strip malls, the gallery is an old, rambling farmhouse. It's a creaky old place. In fact, signs warn that the upstairs can handle no more than 10 people at a time.

These openings allow the semi-swish of Boston's Northwest burbs to come together for wine-and-gnosh, and art. This once, the fare was largely non-representational. I'm good for anything. Well, upstairs is a portrait of a boy. Just his face, infused with a glow. I cannot imagine such a thing on my wall, even if the kid were mine. Too sentimental, and just stuck in time. You know, that time when young Alfonse was clean and perfect, as he never really was. That portrait has been hanging there for quite a while, so I suspect my sentiments are shared.

The representational work tends toward winsome landscapes, woods, meadows, salt marshes. The first paintings that tempted my interest were of the Hudson Valley school, Thomas Cole and such. I still happily enjoy those.

Some of the presenting painters were there. I sort of would like to talk with them, but they tend to smell out sales potential and react accordingly. Well, I feel like that's the case. One of the attending artists was named Joe McCarthy. Of course everyone knows Joe McCarthy as the winningest Yankees manager, and a down to earth commie hater.

You can look at the painter's website here: http://www.ejosephmccarthy.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=9469&Akey=9X6R9CJP. We have reached the point of annoying cool in the making of websites. If the point is to see and learn about something, why couch that something in a blinking, moving, distracting (or distracted) tableau?

I think it was another artist, but possibly just a smug patron, talking earnestly about her little 10 acre homestead that she maintains as a farm. As she asserted, if she can produce but $1000 profit off said land in a farming way, her taxes ease significantly. At least, as Beth noted, she keeps land as land, rather than a 25 home subdivision bereft of trees.

Two large abstracts were best of show. Beth was especially transfixed by one. I cannot fairly describe them but both had the quality of depth, which I like. One even featured pinks, a colour I don't usually favour, but it worked here.

We spent maybe 2 hours there. Looking at art is such a pleasure, altho when many works are available, I find it hard to stay with just one. I feel a constant Oh look over there. Several otherwise interesting paintings disappointed me because they didn't show brushstrokes. The artist applied the paint smoothly. I like the texture of brushstrokes.

If you think I am placing the art gallery in contradistinction to Wal-Mart's weaponry, think again. The idyllic scenes make us yearn, don't they? Or the idea of the wonderful thing on our wall. And some people are thinking, will this painting go with the couch in the living room. Still, art asserts a different plane, a different engagement. It can save us, but we all have to try real hard.

On the way home we stopped at a grocery store for light bulbs. Just imagine a grocery store for light bulbs, what would it be like?

Beth likes to engage store people. I don't think it would be possible from the looks of the Wal-Mart people. The store's pall would prevent that. The cashier at the grocery was a teenager, and he didn't respond. The bagger, who hardly seemed 14, did. The cashier smiled at something said, and seemed to wish he was less cool and could join in like his perky co-worker.

Beth asked the bagger how late he worked. He answered, “I leave in 6 minutes.” He then announced that he was going to Dahlia's for dinner. That's a local restaurant. Beth and I both went oo, because it's a nice restaurant. The boy then said, “I'm picky. I hope they have good food. Do they have steak and rice?” Dahlia's features a Mediterranean menu, and may not include steak and rice. I mean, this chipper young fellow may not be so engaged with the fried polenta as was I.

Beth mentioned working in restaurants in Nevada when she was young.”Las Vegas?”, asked the boy with interest. No, Reno. The boy mentioned some incredible ride residing in Vegas. The wonder of it was apparent in his face. And that's a start.