“Bit by bit, putting it together” (and bit by bit, seeing how it came to fall apart)

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Last weekend, my sister and I traveled with a few of my friends to Chicago for a Nickel Creek concert and a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, which I’ve been wanting to get back to for over four years (weird, how sometimes things you really want to do get pushed back and pushed back). As before, I most liked the Impressionists (Van Gogh and Monet are a couple of my favorites). Along with these, the museum houses the famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

A couple nights ago, I watched Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (based on Seurat’s painting and what’s known of his life) for the first time. It’s heartbreaking, how much I relate to both Georges and Dot: trying through my art, isolated; loving someone who often wasn’t reachable, trying to connect and seeing it fail. I cried a few times because of it — the connection is broken, dissolved into fragments like the glass from the smashed light bulb I still haven’t completely cleaned up. (Sometimes cleanup seems an insurmountable task.)

Is the trouble always one of connection? That when we get too close, the image disappears and all we see are the dots, the spaces between them, between them and us, between him and me, between anyone and the artist. Isolation. Art. As Seurat says in the musical, “I cannot divide my feelings up as neatly as you, and I am not hiding behind my canvas — I am living in it.”

It wasn’t enough. He didn’t love me enough. There it is, the understanding, the judgment call I have every right to make, bit by bit, resting in the skin over my ribs, burrowing a little deeper when I move at times and sending sharp pains that push tears into my eyes. When I take a step back and see the fragments create a whole picture again, it becomes clear it’s not about assigning blame, though; the dissociation is enough on its own.

“A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head.” I especially relate to George, too, the great-grandson of Seurat, particularly in his discomfort at the exhibition and desire to escape the empty, forced, political interactions that are anathema to someone wanting real connection.

And as I think about how things don’t work out sometimes, and how I’ve given it my best, I think about how lots of people have great intentions (I’m one of them) but intentions alone don’t get the work done; it’s what we do, as George says:

Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just the vision’s no solution,
Everything depends on execution,
Putting it together, that’s what counts.

(Link to the song: http://youtu.be/rJFz-ucuTvs?t=2m58s)

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