I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.
No, I do not like that phrase, nor subscribe to its tenets. Nevertheless, if we wish to have autonomy as citizens of this country or this planet and ascribe value in the objects we possess, we must not submit to the artificial value placed by an elite group of self-assigned experts (interpret that how you will). Otherwise, we must accept that real value is relative and is determined outside our own set of principles. You’re getting ready to present a counterpoint, aren’t you? There goes my trip to the Antiques Road Show.
As we assess what we value in this life, I hope it is not in stuff, things, or material objects. Then why do we fill our lives and homes with an immeasurable amount of junk only to go to flea markets, garage sales, or consignment shops to get more stuff? Pay that self-storage unit rent already.
I’ve told my wife that I could live in an empty white room with only a chair.
Hyperbole? Not by much, yet it gets at the root of what I believe is essential in life.
My family does not possess any artifact, painting, or an ‘objet d’art’ that would have value outside of the four walls of our home. Beyond that, I’m going to risk saying that I couldn’t care less to own anything like that – with one exception. It needs to have a story to be in my house.
Don’t jump to conclusions; not everything has a story – the box of Special K in the pantry nor the furnace filter in the mechanical room will conjure up a story beyond we bought it one Saturday afternoon that I cannot remember. The architectural community would probably scorn me for our living room furniture decision, despite my recounting of how and where we bought it. It is the essential things – the things I’d go back for if a fire broke loose in our house that has a story, and that story is what we wish to remember.
Besides the fact that I don’t have disposable millions to buy an expensive painting by someone allegedly famous, to display in my house to impress my friends, it would need to have a story connected to it for me to want to hang it on my walls. According to my uninformed perception of art collectors and the distorted view of reality presented to us on television, people collect things that have value decreed outside of their power and determined by a stranger.
Please do not confuse this obtuse position with buying items of quality.
Quality items endure, and we can share them with family members as a passed down heirloom or a pleasant memory. This might be a house, furniture, or even jewelry. I am going to posit that if one makes these types of investments – ones that last, those purchases likely have a story of how a couple saved money through their early years of marriage to buy a unique piece of furniture they dreamed about in their younger days. Jewelry, I mean expensive jewelry, cannot easily exist without a story – typically a love story.
That leads us to the ultimate investment – a house, made into a home, by the memories and stories of the occupants. Americans often do so little to transform four-walls-and-a-roof into something more than a temporary hotel they stay in for the critical decades of their lives. They encase it in plastic and faux with a few pictures on the walls.
It seems like a shame to me. Let’s share our stories, not our stuff.