Last week, I recalled a conversation with the late and great artist Susan O’Malley prior to a meeting at the de Young museum. She expressed how it was interesting to be approaching an age where you’re considered to be an “expert.” Susan proceeded to be amazed and amused by that classification. She joked: “What is an expert?”
On April 11th, I will be talking at the de Young museum in a short lecture to the New Generations Student Showcase exhibitors. The goal is to share my background, discuss the current status of the art field, encourage students to think about an artistic legacy, and facilitate an open dialogue about future hopes and dreams. Inspiring a new generation of artists at the museum is a full circle moment.
After working out details at the meeting, I decided to view the Botticelli to Braque exhibit. From the de Young museum website: “Spanning more than 400 years of artistic production, this exhibition highlights works by many of the greatest painters from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. See this rare presentation of some of the most iconic images in the history of Western art as they travel to San Francisco from the National Galleries of Scotland. Paintings selected from the collection include masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Sir Henry Raeburn, Frederic Edwin Church, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque.”
Continuing the quest for evidence of expertise, I ventured in the Shaping Abstraction exhibition. I couldn’t help but think did any of these artists consider themselves to be “experts”? What makes one an expert? Is it life experience? Is it hard work and determination? When has one crossed the threshold into expertise?
Leaving the museum with masterful images on my mind, I continued to replay Susan O’Malley’s thoughts. Stuck in horrible traffic on Highway 80, my vehicle moved onto the Ashby exit in Berkeley. Driving on San Pablo Ave., I parked near Bob’s Machinery. Its storefront showcases Susan’s wisdom: “LESS INTERNET MORE LOVE.” At my upcoming de Young talk, I will share her expertise. These words radiate the same power as a Velazquez painting: it lures, hypnotizes, and makes one think. My goal will be to pass that message on to a future generation. What a gift, what a legacy, and thanks to the masters for the continued guidance.