I went to the North Carolina Museum of Art last weekend because I like art and because it has a new facility and because it had a Norman Rockwell exhibit. Growing up, my grandparents had a Norman Rockwell book that I would just pour over and whenever a free Norman Rockwell calendar came to my parents, I snatched it up. I was all about Norman Rockwell.
I was also all about going to the exhibit, but I wasn't sure of my grown up opinion of Rockwell. I used to like him. Did I still? See: The man is as cliche as cliche can be and his pictures are mostly of small-town white families. Terribly idealized. Terribly sentimental. Etc.
Here's what I learned: I still like him. And he is terribly sentimental, but you know what? It works on me. And also: His pictures have a good deal of truth to them. When I saw "Girl at the Mirror" I teared up because the girl is the age I was when I loved Norman Rockwell. The painting is from the '50s, but put a modern day movie star in there instead of Jane Russell and it could have been from this morning. Girls stare in mirrors and critique themselves even though they're already beautiful. That's the way things go. Adult women do it too. Norman Rockwell, you sure do know America.
So I came out of the exhibit thinking: I still like Rockwell. He's a great storyteller. He's funny. He's a heart string tugger, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But then Robert and I went for a walk outside the museum and saw just amazing, giant, modern art plopped in real life as though it belonged there and my heart soared and I realized, this is really my thing. I've grown out of Rockwell. Sure, he tugs the heart strings and makes me smile, but there's something about crazy and clean modern art that just makes my heart *fly* that just makes life better that just makes me feel alive.