Of all the adjustments I’ve had to make since becoming a mother, I think maybe the hardest one of all was adjusting to the fact that I am now a stereotype. With the birth of my first child I became not only a mother, but a “mother:” someone who drives a minivan (wait, this is Flagstaff–make that an SUV), has a horror of dirt, and petitions the local Wal-Mart to stop carrying Cosmopolitan because the covers are too racy. This despite the fact that I can still frequently be found hauling my mud-splattered kid around town in a twelve-year old bike trailer covered with Dead Kennedy stickers. The reality doesn’t matter: I am a “mother.” Suddenly I understand how frustrating it must be to be from West Virginia: you could be in the middle of explaining your doctoral thesis on astrophysics to someone and, without fail, they will probably interrupt you to ask “so, how’s your sister doin’?(wink, wink)”
Of course, within every stereotype there is a grain of truth, and in the case of the mothering one, that has certainly proved to be true. In fact, I think that the only thing that has proven to be more frustrating to me than having to explain to people that being a mother doesn’t automatically make you uptight and hysterical is when, right in the middle of this explanation, I find out that, sometimes, in fact, it does.
Such was the case when I heard about the recent controversy over the artwork hanging up in the deli at New Frontiers. It seems that some people want local artist Scott Martinson’s work taken down–not because it is badly done (it’s not), not because it’s overpriced (it is so not), but because they “don’t want their children exposed to it.” Hearing this made me feel just like the aforementioned astrophysicist must feel when she finds out that her cousins are getting married–to each other. In other words, a little bit sad and a little bit betrayed. And a little bit confused: what kind of mother doesn’t want her children exposed to art?
There are lots of things I don’t want my children exposed to: Bratz dolls; homophobia disguised as a “Defense of Marriage Act;” a president who thinks waterboarding is okay “in certain circumstances” (like when, I guess, they “really deserve it.”). But art has never been on that list. In fact, I’ve been known to actually pay money so that my children can be exposed to art (just in case those protesting mothers are reading this, those places are called museums). What’s more, I’ve even been known to pay more money so that I can bring a piece of art home and expose my children to it 24/7.
And as for the “offensive” pieces? Surely offensiveness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and any art that gets your attention is art that is doing its job; as writer Miguel de Unamuno said, “I’m not selling bread; I’m selling yeast.” Any doubts on that score were settled the last time I took my six-year old to an art museum: I couldn’t have made him spend an extra minute in front of Monet’s “Gardens at Givenchy” if I had nailed his feet to the floor, but once he saw 17th century artist Artemesia Gentileschi’s incredibly gory “Judith Slaying Holofernes,” he was all about art.
Of course, everyone has their own tastes (and their own limits):one man’s Frida Kahlo may be another man’s Norman Rockwell; still, it would be nice to think that even when someone feels the need to close their own eyes, they don’t also feel the need to deny their children the chance to have theirs’ opened, instead.
Scott Martinson’s art will (hopefully) be on display through the end of March at the New Frontiers deli, located at 1000 S. Milton Rd.