Saturday, February 5, 2011

Balancing between Perfection and Peeta Binnochi

I've been working pretty regularly at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, every weekday (and some weekend days as well) organizing, researching ad rates, updating online calendars, typing up documents, making labels, getting signatures for a petition, aaall kinds of stuff. The museum is currently closed, in between exhibitions. The next show is two different installation sculptors that I'm REALLY excited about. Jessica Moon Bernstein is a local artist, really a nice woman who makes sculptures with recycled bicycle tires/tubes. Henrique Oliveira is an AMAZING Brazilian artist who makes these fascinating undulating wood installation sculptures.

So the preparations that go into the next show are both office related and physical-space related. For the past two days, I've been focused on the "physical-space" aspect, i.e. painting white walls white. In the gallery/museum world, walls are never white enough. You must coat and re-coat until your eyeballs fall out from staring at nothing but white walls (is that a shadow or a line is that a shadow or a line is that...) and your brain explodes from the fumes. I jest. The idea is to fill in holes, sand them, paint over places that got scuffed up or otherwise drawn on. Also, in our case, to paint the walls again because they were painted black for the last exhibition, and the first few coats of white peeled and cracked immediately. I had a lot of moments where I had to pause and consider the Peeta Binnochi effect.

For those of you scratching your head at this reference (and also title of this post--specifically Peeta Binnochi, although the word "perfect" in anything related to me is questionable as well) I'm going to have to take you on a trip to the College of Charleston Studio Art Department. Barbara is the printmaking professor, an incredible woman, short with a huge personality. She hails from Brooklyn, so she's got a bit of an accent, loves to do the NY Times crossword during class while we're scraping and sketching (yes, we're allowed to give answers). She's very honest about your art and has a standing rule that if you're late to class, you bring snacks the next class. She also tends to go off on tangents and tell stories in the middle of demonstrations. One day, while showing us woodcuts and giving us tips about the delicate nature of woodcutting, she came out with one of my favorite stories.
Apparently, back in Brooklyn as a child, Barbara was in her bedroom after school and looked out her window and to see her neighbor, Peter Binnochi, painting his garage door. One of the pitfalls of living near creative-minded children is that a single inane day in your life could live on in infamy. So anyway, good ol' Peeta (remember, when she pronounces "Peter", it's with an accent) was painting his garage door in square panels with a couple different colors. He must have gone out of the lines, though, and was attempting to correct this minor, nearly imperceptible mistake. He proceeded to make a huge mess, way worse than the original mistake, and ended up painting the whole garage door a single color after hours of struggling.

Barbara was quite fond of using Peter as an adage, in life and in art, and it's something that's stuck with me. I catch myself saying, "No, no, don't Peeta Binnochi this" and receiving really strange looks (may be also because I talk out loud to myself, but I digress). This doesn't happen to me too often, not because I'm perfect and never make mistakes, but because I'm not a perfectionist and usually "quit while I'm ahead" rather than nitpick (okay, I'm lazy). Anyway, I invite you, my readers, to use this adage for yourselves. If you find yourself painting white walls white and wondering whether you should climb up there and grab that little spot, remember Peeta Binnochi. Just leave it.

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