Thursday, March 22, 2007

Advice to Marc Chagall

Coming back from a large Marc Chagall
exhibit in Roma, my son and I agreed
that Marc was not a great painter.

Surely, I said, he blows Norman Rockwell,
or Andrew Wyeth out of the water. My son
could not argue that point. But he said

that Marc just drew, and then filled in
his drawings with blue and red,
except for this one wall of beautiful colleges

that he did in 1970.
I said he was a great lyricist
and that even though painters

wouldn't look up to him for inspiration
a lyricist would.
I then imagined what

I might say to Marc,
should he, one dreary day,
be in a despondent mood about his art,

and decide to telephone me.
"What's wrong with my art?"
he would say

and I'd tell him that he should get
a new manager who doesn't want him
to illustrate so many bible stories

and that he should mix up his colors a bit,
and take the advice of one of my teachers
that every area in a painting should

include a little bit of every other color in the painting,
or a friend who said, always look at the
whole when you are working on the parts.

Or maybe I'd give him the
gold toothbrush of advice,
that one should "listen to everyone and believe no one."

But then I started wondering, what if
Marc really did take my advice,
then we wouldn't have

his spirit and paintings that
are so unique and so compelling,
especially he,

having lived through countless
wars and turmoil,
taught us such priceless lessons

about joy and love
and just doing something crazy
because it feels so good!