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Shaved Heads and Spit

the kiddo and me

the kiddo and me

I noticed that the young men all have shaved heads, but I didn’t think they had anything to do with me. I was at a red light and they were packed in the car behind me. I checked the rearview mirror to see how my son was doing. He was happy in his carseat, close to dozing after a busy morning.

It was a cold, gray day. The young men behind me caught my eye. The driver was climbing out his window. He wore a leather jacket and tight tee-shirt–just like the rest of them. He balanced on the edge of the window, pitched forward, and spit on my car. The young men all laughed.

The light changed. I went straight, worried they would follow me, wondering what I had done to get their attention and if they’d seen my son. They turned left.

One friend suggested my bumper stickers were to blame–Eve was framed, Happy Naked Pagan Dance, and a circle/slash W. Perhaps. But the image of that young man spitting at me unsettled me for the entire day.

I’m okay with people not liking my work. Sure, I worry about it, but it doesn’t keep me from writing or making art. But as I get closer to this art festival, I do wonder how I’ll react to mean or ignorant comments. Some people really do take personally work they don’t like. If I don’t like something, I move on. What is it with people who get angry as if the artist/writer has no right to exist. What is it about another person’s creative efforts that angers them?

Have you ever reacted angrily to a work of art? Or ever had someone respond that way to your work?

8 thoughts on “Shaved Heads and Spit

  1. angry, no. indifference, yes.

    But I’m weird. Even the most controversial art, like the elephant dung madonna that the mayor of NYC tried to ban, is fine by me. Actually, I saw a picture and didn’t see what the fuss was all about.

    But as for what could happen at the art show… think about the worst that could happen. How would you handle it? Would it really be all that bad? Could you move on? Think about the best that could happen and how would you deal with that?

    The real outcome will probably be somewhere in the middle.

    I don’t know how thick my own skin is, yet. But, what’s the worst that could happen?

  2. Yeah, I wonder about this. I try to remember that any over the top reaction to me or my work is not really about me — it’s about whatever the other person is carrying — but it still hurts and it still keeps me up at night.

  3. The spitting would unsettle me too. And if I had artwork displayed at an art show and someone said or did something mean, it would really bother me. Perhaps the most realistic thing that could happen is for someone to laugh or perhaps make a face – even unconsciously – because they don’t like it. Sure that would hurt. But the right thing to do would be to concentrate on the compliments and the people who do like it. Although, I know if it were me, it would be so easy to just concentrate on the bad comment. Why do we do that?

    Be brave, Marta. I think your art show is going to go very well for you.

  4. I can’t think of anything that extreme, but I am continually thought to be a lesbian because I like to draw and paint nude women. The potential for me to be in the closet to myself is there, I suppose; but it’s the assumption that bugs me. I mean, so what? If I were gay, so what? But the assumption that I can’t just find the lines of the female more attractive than the male for my art seems to be beyond many people.

    The spitting incident? Just awful. I had some young men, for no apparent reason, throw a sandwich at me and say “here you go, fat bitch,” back when I was in college. It floored me. (I was about twenty pounds overweight at the time. Definitely not fat.)

  5. rowena, I didn’t get the fuss over that elephant dung art either. Usually I remind myself that whatever it is I(‘m worried about isn’t going to kill me and that works–for a while anyway.

    MPJ, yeah, all the logic in the world doesn’t keep it from stinging.

    shelli, I’ll do my best to concentrate on the compliments. All of it has to do with who makes the negative remark. Some people I can ignore, others…

    writtenwrydd, I’ve been accused of being a lesbian too because of taking women’s lit and psych in college and not having enough boyfriends. And yeah, its like well, so what if I am, but I’m not so…? Who likes to be labeled anything they aren’t? I’m not even a fan of being labeled something I am–seems limiting.

    And once I had some guys throw chicken bones in my car while driving down the highway. They landed in my lap. Luckily, i didn’t hear what they shouted.

  6. Wow, what a story. Did you and/or the kiddo talk about it at all? If not, how do you imagine the conversation might have gone? (All rhetorical questions. Hey, two can play that little game. 🙂

    Every now and then you read about some lunatic who’s attacked the Mona Lisa with a sledge hammer or something. (I like to imagine one of these people someday attacking one of van Gogh’s self-portraits with a knife, inadvertently removing his ear.) Even though they’re not generally making some sort of critical statement about the work, it’s kind of interesting to speculate how Da Vinci (et al.) might regard these attacks, from their distance of centuries.

    I don’t know how I’d react at a show of my art, overhearing someone sneer aloud, guffaw, whatever. I hope you remember that just as with writing critiques, harsh, poorly thought-out art criticism says a lot more about the critic than about the work under consideration.

  7. writtenwrydd & m. I have had the same comments because I am single and don’t care to marry. I have yet to meet the guy that’s worth my freedom!

    M, you could have had the ones throwing chicken bones arrested for a couple of crimes.

    If people say something negative about your art, just pretend to notice a friend in the crowd and excuse yourself. Keep in mind, some people will be petty because they are jealous. Or, you can say, “I thought you were intelligent to understand my art. I was wrong.”

    Jes, very funny. If Van Gogh’s self portrait is attacked, we’ll blame you.

  8. JES, my son didn’t see a thing and I didn’t tell him. I’ll remember your advice, but when I’m there, I’ll still probably feel sick.

    Pamela, keep your freedom! ha-ha. And I never thought of it being a crime–about the chicken bones–I just thought they were jerks. But if someone insults me (or just says something annoying) I’ll do what I always do and ignore it!

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