w: ajleon

Keith Haring, Black Truffles & the Art of Context

From time to time, Melissa and I choose a city in the world we absolutely adore and plant ourselves there for exactly one day in what we have humbly christened a Legendary 24 Hours. It’s one of our more peculiar nomadic practices, and has undoubtedly led to some of the most absurd and enchanting days of our lives.

The last time I was in Paris was one of those days.

And as we were meandering around the streets of 4th arrondissement getting blissfully lost as usual, I happened to see an advertisement for a Keith Haring exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne on the side of a garbage can. It was towards the end of the day and we knew the museum closes early. We raced along La Seine like wild gypsies, and arrived just in time to desperately sweet talk the security guard with our 6 combined words of French. We were the very last two allowed in on the very last day of the exhibition.

It was sensational. Just spectacular.

The perfectly curated exhibition was spread across 5 rooms and even more corridors and displayed Haring’s extraordinary body of work in a manner in which you felt as if you’d known the man and personally witnessed his growth as an artist.

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A couple days ago, we were rushing to Geneva for a Misfit pre-launch book event there. The train pulled in late and I had no access to the gods of the interwebs. We knew our hotel was two blocks away, we just didn’t know which two blocks they were.  At any rate, we finally arrived at our hotel, and as Melissa was checking in, I was pacing through the lobby eating the last remnants of my cashew lunch. About 15 minutes goes by, and Melissa asks me, “hey AJ, is that a Keith Haring?”

There on the drab walls of an unremarkable average hotel in a seedy area of Geneva hung 5 original, horribly-lit Keith Haring’s.

And I had walked by them a dozen times, and never noticed.

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The very first time I ever tasted black truffle pasta was as the sun was setting on a tiny seaside hamlet in Croatia at an unabashedly rustic café whose tables were sat outside at the crest of the Adriatic Sea.

The second was at an overpriced, under-impressive glitzy Midtown joint.

To this day, if anyone mentions black truffles, I can hear the waves crashing and I immediately tell the story of how Melissa and I stumbled into this little seaside harbor restaurant, and spent our last 20 euros on the best dinner we have ever had.

The context in which we experience Art has a tremendous and material impact on the value we place in the Art itself. 

(This simple verity is the precise reason that I spend as much time deliberating over the packaging of my products or the breakfasts at my conference as I do about the things themselves.)

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Sure, Stumptown Coffee could technically sell their beans to any café willing to serve them.

But they don’t.

Why?

Because they recognize that the venue and conditions in which we taste their coffee will forever alter the story we tell ourselves about it.

But what does this mean for us?

1. Your job is not finished when the work is, your job is finished when the happy few you produce it for have experienced it.

2. The story that people will tell themselves about your work is just as important as the blood, sweat and DNA you poured into making it.

 

From a little 14th Century flat in Paris

Your Fellow Misfit,

AJ

Ps – There are four tickets left to our Cambridge Misfit book tour event hosted by Lou and Martyn. I’m giving free hugs, and I heard there will be copious amounts of imbibing. 🙂

632 words

11.4.13

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