Sunday, December 27, 2009

How Holiday Windows Save my Soul

Maybe its the clean blue Wisconsin skies, the absence of security lines, Milwaukee's surprisingly good airport art, or the fact that I'm sprawled out over three seats in the waiting room with a cup of coffee and wireless internet, but I’m feeling warm and fuzzy enough to confess my most superficial, glittery addiction to holiday kitsch. 

I’ll admit to having an almost instantaneous, scornful reaction to things that are “pretty”.  Someone once came up to me during a group show and (in what he must have thought was a compliment) gushed over how wonderful it was that my pieces were “easy to look at”.  I had never been so insulted.  I wanted to rip my diptychs from the wall and stomp them to bits right there, hopefully embedding some glass shrapnel into the man’s meticulously-coordinated jacket and scarf ensemble.  “Pretty”, without irony, makes me want to commit murder.

But, once a year, I let myself out of my uncharitable restraints and run with abandon into the arms of the glitzy and sensual.  I let go of all my fears about art degenerating into emotional mush, of ideas getting lost in precious moments, of letting my eyes and heart slaughter my mind—and I run to the window displays to become a temporary member of the glitterati.  

The windows are intoxicating.  They are a rescue team that airlifts me out of my own mental quagmire only to drown me in a flood of fake pearls and plastic icicles.  They are so secure in their superficiality, so joyously transparent in their purpose that there is absolutely no way I can hate them.  They are icons of consumer lust and highbrow vanity, visceral eyegasms that are meant to steal thoughts and replace them with ohh-want-want-look-if-only’s.  They are demons or fairies or gods or whatever else can bewitch you by showing you what you want—what you need—who you could become, while stoically restricting their world to a tiny glass box you can never enter.  I need them.  Blatant frivolity is my palate-cleanser.

For your viewing pleasure, the blog AnotherNormal has the best photos I’ve seen around of these (and previous) years’ holiday (and non-holiday) displays. 

Not art, but mass-market glam at its most seductive.  Ying, meet your Yang. 

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