8. Washington City Paper: Washington Is a Storm, One Piece of Art Can Be Your Anchor
I spent a lot of time alone when I lived in DC last year. I freelanced for work and spent most of my days walking across the city to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s courtyard to spend the afternoon working. Sometimes there were no tables in the courtyard, or it was closed for an event, and I often found myself on the seat across from Theaster Gates’ Ground rules. Free throw in the east wing of the museum. When this happened, sometimes I would get my work done, but mostly my attention wandered to the piece. Made of reclaimed wooden floors of old gyms, I always wonder what to call it—is it a painting? It reads as a painting, but its materiality leaves me unconvinced. Last year Ground rules. Free throw was my anchor piece. A place I could go, for free, nearly every day of the year. And while I can look at images of the work online, I miss the enduring presence it had in my life.
“Finding an [art] anchor in D.C. might seem like an assignment: Stroll past portraits of aristocrats in Elizabethan collars until one reaches out to grab you. Which sounds dismal!” but “museums in D.C. make it easier to find an anchor, because they’re humane (i.e., largely free). Making the most of the city’s museums means, to me, shorter trips and longer looking.” Art can be difficult, and hard to get into, but start by “thinking inward: How do I respond to these colors, to this shape? Where does my eye want to go in this painting? Pulling apart all the decisions in a piece helps: the grain of a photo, the texture of a statue, the shape of a brushstroke. Lingering on each detail in isolation helps.” Find a piece that anchors you, that you can always return to, because “no place rewards you for being alone like the galleries. And being alone in a place designed to let you be alone is underrated. Looking happens in that interior space between the senses and the mind and the heart… Art is a reminder that no one is alone, even in times of darkness.”