Observing art while outdoors

May. 20, 2013 @ 08:28 PM

I see artwork and stare. My eyes follow the lines, and I study the colors.
My mind processes the shapes, curves, jagged edges, the shabby and the abstract.
Into the mind of the artist, I go. Sometimes I wonder what defines art. Sometimes I wonder what separates the art from a child from the art of an adult.
Sometimes art is not affixed to the wall, arranged on a stand or engraved. Sometimes art is found in the most unassuming places.
I recently saw art that caused me to stop and stare, and I knew what I saw was art. The place was on highway 158 between Roxboro and Oxford, but it really could have been anywhere.
Certainly, if the original Mona Lisa were on display at any venue outside a gallery, it still would be the Mona Lisa.
She was not Mona Lisa. And really, from 80 yards away, I don’t even know her name. I could see her in the distance as my vehicle rounded a curve.
She was at the other end of a pond, and clearly she was fishing.
Sometimes I have seen artwork and needed to read the nearby plaque to know its origin. I did not need a plaque for this artwork.
The backdrop was green and cool, the clouds in the sky were faint and slim against the bright and bold sky. The sun was like a yellow ember.
She wore pink pants and a white long-sleeved shirt, and I don’t believe she wore socks. She looked comfortable between the armrests of the chair in which she sat. Her feet were flat to the ground, and her right hand held the fishing pole at an angle, gesturing to the boldness above.
It was 11 a.m., and the wind was blowing as she fished across the way. There was no tackle box seen, no bucket, no vehicle and she was alone, I am certain.
Her fishing pole lowered once. I did not see a splash or witness a cast. and she only bent at the shoulder slightly. From afar, her hair was brown, her eyes a mystery and her name equally mysterious.
I stared from the roadside, and the idle of the truck was the only sound I heard. There were questions, for sure, and there were assumptions, I am embarrassed to admit.
Still, she fished and I stared. There is a moment, I am told, when artwork makes sense.
On this day, I understood. Perhaps it was a ritual or maybe it was a reckoning, and her steps navigated her to a familiar place that was suddenly unfamiliar to me, if for only a moment.
Perhaps her line was not baited — the location was someplace to escape. Perhaps she was poor and becoming enriched were aspects of baiting a hook and seeing the sky. Perhaps there was mourning or celebration, pain or rehabilitation, suffering or healing, freedom and then release.
Or perhaps she was fishing. Yet I am aware that the haystack painting is not just the haystacks that were painted and that Mona Lisa really is smiling. Perhaps I am wrong.
Certainly, art is for interpretation and discussion. In this case, art fostered an outdoors column, and all of this because I rounded a curve, as the saying goes.
The scene of this woman fishing paused me, yet it was a catalyst of thought that continued days later. While I sometimes wonder about art, I do know that pausing and thinking are the result of art and stopping and staring.
From rounding a curve, soon I was down the road and the woman became an image on my mind. Maybe her name was Betty. Perhaps she used worms dug from the flower garden that morning. From afar, maybe she stared at me.
I wonder how the scene of a vehicle rounding the curve, then pausing off the road to stare, might have been interpreted.
I wondered if the fish were biting. I wonder if she knew my hair is brown, too?
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may contact Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.