Spain, Part 1 -- “The Garden of Earthly Delights”

I recently went on a trip to Spain with my studio mate, Leslie Morgan. I love to travel -- always have, always will -- and it was great to be able to take in a new culture. We made pizza, drank great wine, and of course, spent a lot of time exploring art in both cities we visited, Barcelona and Madrid.

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” stood out. My boyfriend in college had given me a large replication of this piece right before I graduated, and it held pride of place on the walls of my first apartment in New York.

Last month I got to see the actual piece in Madrid at the Museo del Prado. I travelled back in time to memories of my copy.

It’s just so odd... There’s all of the religious imagery juxtaposed with all of the weird creatures, all depicted in an incredible amount of detail.

Art Historian Dr. Sally Hickson quotes Alice in Wonderland at the beginning of her essay about "The Garden of Earthly Delights," saying that to try to write anything about the piece is an "attempt to describe the indescribable and to decipher the indecipherable—an exercise in madness."

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

’Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

’How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

’You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I liked the piece back in college, and I like it now. There’s something about the “madness” that entices me. This surreal, mad quality comes out in my art (as evidenced in "The Rooster Who Ate Petaluma," pictured below).

The Rooster Who Ate Petaluma  2013, 60 X 48, acrylic on paper

The Rooster Who Ate Petaluma

2013, 60 X 48, acrylic on paper

Seeing art as often as possible is one of the key components of being a lifelong learner. I notice what I’m attracted to, and it inspires my work.

Leslie and I stood and looked at the piece for a long time. There’s a lot to take in. You can get a sense from clicking on the image and enlarging it on your device, but it’s really one of those ones that shines in person. Taking this trip reminded me of the power of seeing art live.

If you’re local to the Bay Area, there’s of course so much art you can see locally -- lots of galleries, exhibitions, openings, studios for us all to go to. I'll be writing another blog post soon about an excursion I took to a new favorite gallery of sorts... sign up for my mailing list to find out more about it. And comment here if there’s a gallery, museum, exhibition etc that you’d recommend.