Mainly because Steve is such a charmer we have recently become friends with two other couples. These four people have many attributes. They are well-read, smart, articulate professionals. Best of all, they seem able to tolerate our quirks and this makes them immensely attractive. As a bonus, one of the women is really good at organizing social events. She comes up with ideas, arranges an acceptable time, and makes reservations. We refer to her as the cruise director.
Last week the cruise director had us all going to dinner in Troy. As is normal in dinner conversation, we were discussing Abraham Lincoln. Specifically, we were talking about immense statuary of Abraham Lincoln. Even more pointedly, some of us were trying to figure out the message of the, ah, art in front of the court house. Now, Miami County is not a big place. But these are busy people and some of them had not seen the, ah, art. We decided to venture out on a short stroll down the streets of Troy and take in the sights. Or The Sight.
I realize I am going to sound like a real, ah, art-hater when I relay the gist of the comments that followed. The first reaction, in a rare unanimous response, was, “Holy Emancipation Proclamation.” One woman, who says that she has nightmares about dolls, clowns, and anything else with a face, said ol’ Abe was going to haunt her sleep for some time to come. Her husband, who happens to have a face, took great exception to her aversion to faces until she reassured him his face is acceptable and rarely gives her bad dreams.
Because none of us are artists, we harbor the plebian notion that art is “about” something. True artists scorn the very idea that art is “about” anything. They maintain art is art as long as it is accompanied by a grant. This was reported on Fox News so you know it has to be fair. And balanced. So we set about offering ideas on what message Abe and the other guy are trying to impart.
And speaking of the other guy, we had plenty of opinions about who he is. Here are some of the best ideas. One man thought it was John Boehner except the statue wasn’t tan enough. Or smoking. Or weeping. So we knew it wasn’t John. The woman with encroaching nightmares risked a closer look and decided the guy looks exactly like the choir director at her church, right down to the corduroy pants. The most erudite guy in the crowd said the second statue represents “Every Man,” or “A Man For All Seasons” which is just artsy enough to be right. Several of us wondered why the guy wasn’t melting, wearing a cable knit sweater in Ohio in August. If he really were a man for all seasons he would have known to pack some cotton shirts.
In a show of fellowship and tolerance, we voted for choice three, “Every Man,” although some of us rabble-rousers wanted to know where “Every Woman” was. Next we took on the issue of what Abe is trying to show Every Man. Knowing that each small detail of art represents a profound concept that requires deep thinking, we wrestled with this. Several of us who had enjoyed wine with dinner were not too well equipped for deep thinking or even medium-depth thinking and our wrestling was more like half-hearted grappling.
Abe is gesturing with his hat towards the northeast. Is he guiding the other guy to the justice within court house? To the legislative halls of the state capital? To the seat of government in Washington, D.C.? These last two would indicate a lack of directional awareness on Abe’s part but in all fairness he isn’t from around here. Noticing the wrinkled piece of paper in Every Man’s hand the John Boehner-idea guy said, “It’s a map. He’s trying to show him the way to Piqua.” We women knew right away this wasn’t right because no man would deign to ask directions, even from Abraham Lincoln. The guy who had come up with the Every Man idea now opined that Abe was showing the way to the future, again just artsy enough to be right.
Having met our quota of art appreciation for the month, we ambled off. Then we saw the stencils on the sidewalk saying “This way to the selfie station” or something like that. “We all agreed “A selfie with Abe” is a sure sign of the apocalypse and went home to have our own nightmares.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.