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Post details: Artificial Vitamins

Artificial Vitamins

I read somewhere that consuming vitamins in the form of synthetic pills decreases your ability to extract them naturally from fruits, veggies, hot dogs and other healthy food groups. I am not a nutritionist but it does make some sense. Imagine an Idaho farmer who realizes one day that potatoes are raining from the sky. I bet you a wagon of French Fries that in a few years he wouldn't know a thing about planting spuds and growing them naturally in the fields. Why bother when they rain from the sky, right? Apparently, our internal vitamin farming is subject to the same principle.

Sometimes, I suspect that art galleries play the role of artificial vitamins to our aesthetic senses. They do present us with plenty of unique visions, dizzying perspectives, shocking angles and unexpected choices of colors, but at the same time they give us a false sense of abundance. They make it seem like pulchritude is something easily canned and all we have to do to get it is ask for a can opener at the gallery's ticket office. This in turn diminishes our ability to perceive beauty in our natural environment. Leaving the gallery we feel we got enough, we turn our senses off and let our imagination slowly atrophy despite the fact that we are bombarded with spectacular combinations of shapes and colors each day. And I do not just mean the blazing sunsets you can see on tacky postcards from places blessed with ocean adjacency.

The other day I was driving to Bethesda at night and had to make a stop at a T-intersection near MacArthur Boulevard. As I looked around, I noticed a poorly lit slope overgrown with wild bushes right next to me. If I returned there during the day, I'd probably found just a boring patch of sketchy turf with a couple of garden variety shrubs, but the magical lighting of the night turned it into an oasis of wonder. My whole field of vision was besieged by blue gray hues, reluctantly revealing the woodcarving texture of individual grass stalks. Hints of thicket were barely salvaged from a creamy chiaroscuro; pale and steamy as if they just poured out of Rembrandt's latest cookbook. It was a sight whose subtle features were on par with strokes of Claude Monet's brush.

A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a photo he took from his balcony after an early March snowstorm. It was nothing tourist brochures would rave about - just a shot from his balcony, showing an unkempt stretch of a wild ravine. But it had an inner dynamics that immediately reminded me of J. M. W. Turner's best canvasses. The trembling flux of nuances. The contours bent by invisible motion. The destitution of bare trees huddling against the voracious elements, their branches madly intertwined in a gale of survivalist instincts. An intriguing conspiracy of black and white.

The point is that you can find truly breathtaking sights everywhere - even outside the art laden walls of air-conditioned rooms with hardwood floors and stately chandeliers. I am not trying to subvert the gallery lobby here - every now and then it is refreshing to see the world through someone else's eyes. But do not forget that the key to the grandest show on Earth lies in your own eyes. Use it or lose it.



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