I enjoy the museums of New York. The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick. They're all enriching to the artistic and cultural fabric of New York, and a large reason why this city is the greatest in the world. But that's not to say I understand all art. In fact, I have discovered I'm really a bit of a snob about art, which is strange because I have been wearing the same jeans for six days straight. I don't quite understand what most contemporary artists are trying to say. I mean, show me a landscape or a still life of a bowl of fruit and it may not be a revolutionary idea, but I get that the artist is attempting to show me something of his world. After Warhol, art sort of lost me. So when I was given the task to deliver to a local visual/performance artist I was intrigued and thought maybe I could ask her a few questions. Sometimes we delivery persons can do that if the deliveree isn't too busy or too unwilling to speak to the unwashed masses.
The address was a loft space (of course) in the Lower East Side, a four flight walk up over a restaurant and it reminded me of the Old New York. I entered the space and it was filled with everything I imagined an artist's loft would accommodate: canvases, easels, mannequins, tons of old artifacts like typewriters and horseshoes and, of course, paint tubes littering every surface.
The woman who approached me was well into a pregnancy and wearing one of those mouth-germ protectors. She took it off indicating her belly and said matter-of-factly: "Fumes." I nodded solemnly, the way I thought a doctor would for some bizarre reason. She signed for the flowers and I gathered the courage to ask her: "What sort of art do you do?" She simply gestured around the loft as though that would explain anything. When she saw my expression, which bore no sign of recognition that this gesture was, in fact, an answer, she unceremoniously took the flowers out of the basket and laid them out on a canvas where she pressed them with a rolling pin before finally pouring paint on them. She must have noticed the new expression on my face which looked like I had just seen someone kill my dog for fun. I shouldn't have cared, but I walked those flowers for three miles only to witness their utter destruction with as much care as someone ripping up a flyer handed them on a street corner advertising a sale on suits. My look prompted her to explain: "People have been sending me flowers all month to congratulate me on my pregnancy, so I thought I'd do something useful and make an art piece out of it."
As I left I couldn't help but think that if I sent someone an $80 bouquet of hyacinths and cymbidium orchids and they immediately crushed them to death on a canvas, I might be a little put off. But then it occurred to me if I sent someone flowers and they included it into an art piece that would perhaps live years longer than the actual flowers, that might actually be the best thank you I could get. But I still probably wouldn't understand it.