You probably walk by condo art all the time, and don’t even know it.
There might even be a sculpture, a statue, or an illustration right outside your front door.
Below is a quick video I shot while oot-and-aboot on Sunday morning; have a look, and let’s discuss…
Alas, the vomit and garbage (and perhaps my homeless-person comment) does not do this sculpture justice.
And personally, I don’t think it’s the sculpture itself that’s what makes this piece of art interesting.
Art can be different things, to different people. Just like you can interpret the lyrics to a song in many different ways, depending on how the words speak to you, and the connection that you make.
My father was always an art collector, but not the type you might think when you hear “art collector.” It was never about the name of the person who created the work, or the price paid, but rather the time and place the art was found. Every family vacation, my father would go searching for something to remind him of that trip, at that time. Sure, the piece had to speak to him, and there had to be a connection. But he was always interested in the story behind the piece, and he had this rule, “I never buy a piece of art unless I meet the artist.”
I am my father’s son.
And as I have done with many things in my life, I’ve incorporated that saying into my life.
When I went with my Dad and my brother to Tibet in 2005, we took a side-trip to Bhutan. and on the first day we found ourselves in, of all places, an art school.
The “classroom” was this gigantic room, with different sections. The students were divided into groups based on their year of schooling, up to five years. In the very back of the room, we found one student who was alone – the only 5th year student. We looked at what he was working on, and it was this incredible dragon, with the most intricate detail.
He explained that each scale on the dragon was painted with one single horse-hair on a brush. And he further explained that to commit a mistake on any piece of art is a “sin,” and it forces an artist to start over.
He showed us one of his finished pieces, and it was jaw-dropping. He said it had taken him over 100 hours to paint.
We asked him if anything was for sale, and he lit up. We didn’t know the custom, and didn’t want to insult him, but he was so happy to have somebody interested in his work.
And in the end, for this incredible, hand-painted piece, that took him 100 hours to paint, do you know what he wanted for it?
So my Dad bought one, and had the young man sign it:
But he didn’t have just one completed painting, but four.
So I bought one as well.
Then my brother.
Then my Dad said, “What the heck, I’ll get one for one of the guys at the office back home.”
$80 U.S., and this kid had thought he’d died and gone to heaven. A crowd of kids formed around us, gleefully watching this 5th year student, who was now a hero to them:
Yeah, I know – I have a really weird moustache.
We had a facial-hair growing contest. And my old man clearly lost the first day…
Some of the best pieces of art I have are from some of the most obscure places, from some of the most random people.
My Dad and I bumped into a street artist in Tanzania during our Kilimanjaro trek in 2010, and bought a whole bunch of his work. He used discarded jars of automotive paint, and painted on ripped pieces of tarp, in lieu of canvas. But that $10 piece of work you find, one-of-one, original, and authentic, behind a $120 custom frame back home, might be one of the most memorable pieces you ever own.
Anyways, that’s a long tangent, but I felt like sharing today.
I have absolutely no idea what makes art special, on a grand scale.
A Jackson Pollock painting, to me, looks like paint splattered on a canvas.
A Pablo Picasso looks like lines and circles.
And I don’t know the name of any artist who has provided the “outdoor, condo art” in our downtown core, nor would I really understand the meaning of thoses giant, red, vertical spikes outside X-Condos, or those falling-over, blue spikes outside X2 Condos.
But I do think they serve a purpose.
I’m a huge fan of the heritage that the downtown core, specifically the St. Lawrence Market area, has to offer.
And the “work of art” outside The Berczy from the video above, while I don’t quite understand it, points to the history of this specific spot in the city:
I think that’s neat.
Call me a sap, but it’s a cool idea.
Now I still haven’t answered my own question in the subject line of today’s blog: what’s the origin?
Do condo condo developers all have the “love of art” in common? Or is there a reason we keep seeing new condos building art outside their walls?
Let me come back to this again on Friday, because the origin of all of this will open a few lines of conversation.
Today, if you’re willing, I’d love to hear your thoughts on notable works throughout the city – outside your condo, or something you admire while passing by…