Every Christmas, my very generous, very loaded Aunt gives my husband and me a check for $500. For a couple in their middle years (I’m 48) with steady incomes, $500 is not life-changing money, but even my allotted half feels like a chance to be wildly, selfishly impractical in a way that I normally never am. I don’t think of my daughter when I think about how to spend that money; I don’t think about beefing up our meager savings or re-enameling our rusting bathtub. I think about Botox, or an Etsy splurge, or something full price from Anthropologie. I think about that check all year long.
Last November brought the MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) Art Sale, an uber-popular annual event that I’d never attended. I love decor – carefully filling my home with unique and wabi-sabi things I’d collected through the years – but the word Art sounded expensive. Still, it was free to attend, and our friend Gerry, who worked at the school, assured us that it was student work and therefore cheap. Maybe I could finally find something to replace the Ikea poster in our bedroom.
We went. It was, indeed, cheap – and expensive, low-brow and high-brow and everything in-between. Bad drawings of toilets and perfect little portraits of grandmothers. Photos, and jewelry, and wall-sized paintings of someone’s nipple. I bought two little prints for ten dollars each and came away knowing how to spend this year’s Aunt-money.
I decided to learn to paint.