This entry is part of a contest by HuffPost Books and The Buried Life. Click here to read more about it.
I smiled and felt really good, after reading your article on Art Bucket Lists. Timing being everything, added to my incredibilous good fortune with a sense of unbridled accomplishment. Are you kidding me ? Who had just returned from his highest priority wish on his Bucket List list of two wishes ? My list is possibly short on ambition and need but it's very, very focused. A short list, for me is less depressing, not to mention I've always felt it's quality over quanity, financially speaking. How many soul mates can a person have, anyway?
My Bucket List was informally initiaited 41 yeas ago while suffering thru a required survey art history class that all BFA folks endure. I actually, kinda liked everything about the information and imagery except the dates. What's wrong with .. " And then, it happened?" Prehistronic. My eye did savor some specific artists but mostly sculptors. Why? Stepping back even further, 53 years ago, as my family sat stuck in traffic on the D.C. end of The Memorial Bridge, loomed large, huge figures, I found later to be works by Leo Friedlander. From his "Art of War". I sat in the back seat of my Dad's Pontiac station wagon, beneath "Sacrifice".
With more than ample time to engage my nine year old curiosity, did I ask my Mom ... " Who made those things?" A sculptor - How cool is that? They had a title like - teacher or grandma - except I had never heard of it. Furtive. As we cruised thru Washington that afternoon, my Mom pointed out example after example of a new way to see things, especially as art. Without any furtivity, that day led to an MFA in Sculpture ( Alfred U. 1978 ) and beyond. Beyond, we don't talk about. Never as successful as Friedlander, I never for a moment regretted or doubted my very first impression of sculpture. ... how cool is that? There's not a photograph, painting, play or any art form that can command the presence of sculpture, especially public works. It's this juncture, of my involvement in art and your Bucket List notion, we became confidants.
It's been over half a century since I fell hopelessly addicted to the third dimension, did I get to realize half of my Bucket list., I got to go experience first hand, the possessed world of a sculptor, I feel, sets the highest standard for sculpture for the entire world to embrace. Thanks to an unexpected check from the VA, regarding my tour as a Marine in Vietnam (69-70), made possible my long awaited journey that would expose me to the intellectual passion of this sculptor's work, I regard as God - like. Or, Clapton - like. Something I thought would never materialize, was in it's infancy and growing. Not for a second, did I entertain pragmatical applications for this award. And not for a second, did I think I'd have another opportunity like this.
I invited my 27 year old son, Maxx, to go with Dad on his "art safari". A safari with a single objective, concerning game. Dad was to experience all things Gianlorenzo Bernini. This man rocks my little world and I was going to be near his. Not nearly as much as the Rolling Stones, but Maxx, had heard of Bernini growing up. Michelangelo who ? Bernini is the guy that ( every artist has, or should have, deference to a higher talent ) makes me hesitate and cringe a little, when I tell someone I'm a sculptor. Really ? I'm pretty sure he's not turning over in his grave, which I kissed, over me or anybody else. We're all on the same page with that, then.
As a New Yorker, I decided to not visit Italy and concentrate on Rome for six days. In February ( 57-60 avg temp ) the only people that were in Rome, was me, my son and a bunch of Romans. A few actually dressed as the Romans I know and love from "Ben Hur". We did get a solid feel for the city and a lot of it's components. We even ate Japanese, Halal and Chinese. Most importantly, Rome is where Bernini's work resides. And his work's surroundings ain't too shabby either. At the Galleria Borghese, I shuddered as I snuck a cheap feel of my favorite sculpture, "Apollo and Daphne" and his "David". Had my mother been there, I would have asked HOW, did he make them ? To be standing and looking at this incredible gift to art, somehow made me flash on James Taylor singing "I'm Your Handyman" to Bob Dylan.
Both Maxx and I, now have a clearer visitation about the seductive power of art and the burden of it's effect, not to mention how great it was hangin' out with my kid in Rome for all the right reasons. Couldn't ask for more. Being overly familiar with Bernini's work I saw no need for a camera. Since I don't own one, that was a lucky brea k. I did, however, do something I feel serves me better than photos I'll never look at again. I have some conditions that help define the two wishes on my Bucket List, so I got a tattoo on my last day in Rome. It's Apollo's hand. If ever get to experience my last Bucket List wish, I'm getting "Walking Man" ( maybe Balzac ) because when I look at my tattoo of Apollo's hand it makes me smile.