Lynn Hummel: The face of art in the gallery of man
I strolled through Art in the Park on Sunday and saw many forms of art as well as many crafts: photography, painting, metal sculptures, cloth art, bird houses, candle holders, jewelry, soap, maple syrup, jam, fudge, nuts, knitting, sewing, doll houses, books, musical CDs and more.
The photography and painting consisted of landscapes and portraits of dogs, cats, horses, deer, elk and varieties of birds. What I didn’t see was a single portrait of a person’s face. I consider the human face the most interesting landscape of all.
The most famous work of art in the entire world is Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a woman, not beautiful, not that young and not dramatic. She has a semi-smile on her face and scholars and art critics for over five centuries have debated and speculated about what that almost-smile means.
Ansel Adams was probably the most famous landscape photographer, with his exciting black and white photos of scenes in our national parks.
The originals sell for millions today. There is no doubt that nature is dramatic and there are countless beautiful images of mountains, oceans, rivers, hills, valleys, waterfalls, seashores, fields of grain and rock walls. All are compelling. But there is only one Mona Lisa.
More than 50 years ago, somebody collected black and white photos of human beings doing what human beings have always been doing and are doing every day: being babies, little kids, fighting, playing, crying, clinging to their mothers, becoming teenagers, dancing, playing music, getting romantic, growing up, falling in love, getting married, having children, farming, working in factories, smoking, eating, drinking, relaxing, celebrating, going to war, going through the Great Depression, getting sick, getting old, dying, going to funerals, mourning, but still making music, dancing, singing, arguing and living.
They are the good, the bad and the ugly of the human race. The collection is called “The Family of Man.” It’s still in print and you should own one. You’ll look at it over and over and you will see your family, your friends and yourself on page after page.
In short, you will see that we are all brothers and sisters in the family of man.
During the past week I noticed several interesting scenes. Here are four of them.
I saw a mother mink followed by a half dozen little mink crossing the road in single file.
I saw a mother mallard followed by five or six little ducklings crossing the road in single file.
I saw a mother skunk followed by a handful of her little stinkers, crossing the road in single file.
I saw a cluster of day-care kids being shepherded down the sidewalk single file, while they skipped, waved, looked in all directions, got behind, ran to catch up, held hands, and generally captivated the moment. There is no doubt that the kids were far more interesting than the mink, ducks and the skunks.
So next year at Art in the Park, I will experience again what many others have discovered long ago: The most captivating art activity in all the world is people watching at the gallery of man.