The Return of Blinky Palermo
(A week and a half later.)
We begin by loading the now empty crates onto the truck. What did folks do in the days before fork lifts?
After lunch we pack up a sculpture and take it down to sculpture storage. This turns out to be a long narrow room that looks like the set of an Indiana Jones movie. Tall shelves overhead. Row after row of them stuffed with sculptures which I only just have time to glimpse in passing. Copper, glass, ceramic, steel. My favorite memory is a quick image of a male torso, looking like it’s cast out of plaster, but with bee combs sticking out of it at irregular intervals.
A good bit of the day goes to hanging some of Blinky’s paintings on the wall of a gallery. This is a complex process wherein we make very precise measurements to a laser line, drill into the wall, sink anchors and hang brackets on which the paintings will rest.
This is my first look at the art over which so much trouble has been taken. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that it looks pretty boring on first observation. All very square and angular and not very intricate. Maybe Blinky was working at an early time when this was all very cutting edge. Sometimes when you take something out of context, it gets muddled, loses some of it’s beauty. You have to study up a bit, see what came before to appreciate something that might have been a radical departure from its predecessors.
The museum is a pretty interesting setting. So different from “folk art” which often exists within a communal/social context. Here all is super formal. Antiseptic. Careful. Spare. And fully devoted to the art itself and its careful preservation. I wonder if the idea of a museum is or has been universal throughout different cultures and times, or whether there exist cultural groups who make what we would consider art, but for whom the idea of experiencing it in this way would seem strange. I think of a heated family debate over a holiday dinner where we discussed functionality and aesthetic principles and biases. Sometimes it’s so hard to see outside of your own reality tunnel…
But Blinky is growing on me. The more I look at the paintings, the more I like them. And at the end of the day I feel glad to have been given a glimpse into a world few get to see. It’s like a DVD with very good special features.
In case you are wondering at my level of ignorance, I purposefully did not do my homework to see who Palermo was and what he was all about. I wanted to have as few preconceptions as possible. I am glad I did. At the end, I really enjoyed his work and mine much more than I expected to. He must have been an interesting dude…