Friday, December 28, 2007

Excellent Execution or Fabulous Fantasy?

A few weeks ago, we decided to drop by our local History Museum to see a display of gingerbread houses -- an almost annual event. We thought it would be a good adventure for little ones. We expected fantasies created with dribbles of frosting across cookie rooftops with all kinds of candies used in creative ways. We expected gingerbread houses; what we saw were gingerbread buildings! Okay, so that's acceptable.

This year, the theme was historic buildings in our city but, while the replicas were fantastic, there was little fantasy in the results. Except in the way the candies, cereals, pretzels and other materials were used for the construction, there were only one or two which showed a spirit of holiday energy. It really could have been a culinary event at any time of the year.

Note: I selected the two I liked best. The old fire station headquarters is now a meeting space with loft apartments; the artists added lots of fun elements around the gingerbread building. The Casino shows the rounded elements which are usually included in the artists paintings; nice transfer of personal style.

I immediately thought of a spring exhibition of my paintings almost 25 years ago. I had selected a dozen of my favorite florals. I watched as people were drawn to two very tightly rendered watercolors of iris -- the design was beautiful, the colors were clean and the detail was excellent (there had been five in the series.) The rest of the paintings were filled with shapes, colors, space and bits of detail. Then I noticed that after the viewers had moved around the room to see all the pieces, they began to return to some favorites. The iris, though award winners, were not among the favorites; once seen, there was no mystery, no fantasy, no need to check for more.

A painting or a gingerbread house. What makes it worth a second look? Is it excellent execution or fabulous fantasy or . . . ?


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