EAGLES IN THE EAGLE NEBULA
Creating and dealing with art can take you to some very interesting and unexpected places.
During my stay in Miami, while curating the Current Art Show in the Art Basel week, I received a message from a NYC curator who wanted one of my Deep Space paintings in a Lower east side gallery. My painting was then at the Ward Nasse Gallery located on Prince Street in SOHO.
I arrived in NYC from Miami on December 13th at 2 pm. The opening at the Gallery on Orchard Street, curated by Frank Jackson, was set for December 14 so there wasn’t much time because my flight to Israel was at 11 pm that same day.
I arrived at the Ward Nasse Gallery at 4 pm and took the painting off the wall. It's a big piece, 76’x38’, so there wasn’t a taxi that could take it and I was running out of time because the gallery owner told me he will be there till 6 pm.
I decided to take the picture as it is and without any wrapping and walk it from Prince Street in SOHO to Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.
It was one of the most interesting experiences in my artistic career.
People stared at a strange guy carrying a huge painting and started to ask questions:
What is it?
It's the Eagle nebula galaxy, I answered.
I saw eagles in National Geographic, they are cool man.
A Hot dog vendor shouted that he wants this painting.
7,500 dollars and it is all yours, I said.
Have free hot dogs and beverages for you and the Mrs. for a lifetime, he shouted back and urged his customers to stop eating and have a look because as he put it, a hot dog disappears quickly but a painting stays forever.
Three elderly Jewish women stopped me and started asking a lot of questions, none about the painting. One of them insisted on taking a picture for Dvora, her daughter. You are not married are you? Where are your parents from? Do you make a living out of this stuff? The oldest lady kept on asking while looking at my painting. I see my late Jacob in this mess, very colorful man, not easy to understand and total disorder around him.
A Korean couple asked me for a picture, I placed the painting in front of the Citibank entrance and the two Koreans beside me. Customers of the bank started to gather, people from the street saw this gathering and stopped to see what it is all about. The bank manager came out to check if everything is okay. He saw the painting and called out to some bank workers to have a look. A policeman approached the crowd inquiring what is going on. People were taking photos all the time mostly with their smartphones. I was short on time. All this happened on Broadway near Grand Street and I had to get to Orchard Street by 6 pm.
The policeman was updated that I am the artist and this is a painting about eagles, so first he took a picture of me and the painting and then he asked the hot pretzel man from the stand nearby to take a picture of me, him and the Eagle nebula painting.
'Okay', he said, 'let's hear you'.
'Come on don't be shy, look at how many people are here'. At this moment we had a big gathering covering the sidewalk till Grand Street.
So in this awkward situation I started to speak, about proportions, about the fact that our sun was formed 4.5 billion years ago and would cease to exist another 4.5 billion years.
'Billion or million?' asked a guy dressed in a Santa Claus outfit.
'Billion' I said.
'I'm relieved', said the Santa Claus guy.
I spoke about the fact that every celestial element is on the move; there are neither still objects in deep space nor objects that exist by their own. There is hierarchy and gatherings in the universe. Moons are gathered around planets and this is the closest family. Planets are circling a sun and this is like our city. The whole solar system swivels around a black hole in the middle of the Milky Way galaxy and this is our country and there are many more like the local galaxy cluster and giant galaxy clusters.
'So how is all this connected to eagles?' asked a woman that was there with her two daughters.
What I paint is inspired by the Hubble telescope images sent to planet Earth. I paint celestial elements as my personal interpretation of color and form. I pointed to the painting that still leaned on the Citibank entrance pillar, this painting was inspired by the Eagle nebula photos. The Eagle nebula is a marvelous star forming region in the middle of our galaxy.
'Ah', said Santa Claus, 'but I see eagles in it'.
'No problem', I said, 'There might be eagles in the eagle nebula, nobody knows, it’s too far away.'
'Thank you very much for the opportunity and I invite you all for tomorrow at 7 pm at the Gallery Bar on Orchard Street', I said, and started walking when I realized that there were few people accompanying me asking questions along the way.
When I finally got to the gallery bar the guy told me that he was about to close.
'I had the strangest art walk in my life', I said to him 'next time I will walk with two paintings'.
Have magic in your life
Ted Barr, NYC, 2012