I stared happily at George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I have loved this painting since I was a young person. It was highlighted in wallpaper and a few other pop culture sources. I had never known the source (or name) of the painting up until a few years ago. When I found out its artist, I celebrated. It had a name and a source.
My family, hearing enough of the story behind “La Grande Jatte”, purchased a facsimile copy of the painting for me at Christmas time. I was welled with joy. The painting made its home on our walls, not far from a Klimt copy. As I put decades behind me, the things that I passed up on make more sense to me.
I saw artwork at my local cigar club that strikes my fancy. It serves a better purpose, making an environment for what I always had thought gentleman (and ladies) should be in. I had discussions about some of the artwork, which was made by a local artist. I felt like our club was a great place to highlight it. This experience sent me down a rabbit hole looking for the locations where famous art pieces were featured. La Grande Jatte can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago.
I had been in Chicago before. I was stationed for a few months just north of the city. I’ve been in Chicago for a few hours and I found the city to be fascinating. I failed to go to the Art Institute and other culturally important sites. But I had looked into returning to do so.
But I had to pause my plans when I stumbled upon footage of Chicago’s riots, which were a short stroll away from the Art Institute. Although I must be honest in saying that the riots aren’t continuous, I am not encouraged by them.
I find it a tragedy of sorts that a place that holds cultural significance and a masterpiece like La Grande Jatte is not “open” to those that seek it. I know their (rioters) anger, but we must not forget the little things that make us civilized. The things that give us meaning. The works of art are not permanently lost but I fear that we are close to that day.
I wish for those that can not find value in art to have an epiphany like I did. It has brought me an element of peace when I was headed off into my own cultural Dark Age. To not have something of value shaping them is folly and to have faith in the ephemeral is destruction. I wish for them to find their own La Grande Jatte for them to embrace.