Today’s post comes from Bill in Mpls
It’s not what you think. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’s not that.
When I was in high school, 15 or 16 years old and living in the suburbs, I would sometimes get on the city bus and go downtown by myself. Once there, I would visit art galleries. There was a gallery on Hennepin, up a narrow staircase to the second floor, called the Bottega Gallery. It was run by a guy named Tom Sewell and it had a reputation as avant-garde. In fact, when Marcel Duchamp was in town for his show at the Walker, curator Martin Friedman brought Duchamp to the Bottega Gallery. I didn’t know anything about the avant-garde or about abstract art of any kind, but I was drawn to the Bottega Gallery and returned whenever I came downtown. At that time, Hennepin Avenue was pretty scruffy. To my suburban sensibilities it had a tang of dangerous bohemianism and adventure.
After visiting the Bottega Gallery, I would walk down to the Walker Art Center to look around. This was the old Walker, with a grand staircase leading up to an open gallery looking out on a center atrium. It was the only Walker I’ve ever really loved. After the Walker, I would make a stop at the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery. As I recall it, K-B Gallery was part gallery, part art supply store. Bob Kilbride published a newsletter/“zine” called The Potboiler, which was always entertaining and free for the taking..
When I say I didn’t know anything about abstract art, I mean I had no basis for knowing anything. Art appreciation and art history were not taught in my high school. Art was not part of my home life. I doubt that either of my parents ever visited a gallery or art museum in their lifetimes. That wasn’t in their world. My impulse to seek out art galleries feels a little like a rogue mutation of the family genetics. Nothing foreshadowed it, but there it was.
Looking down from the altitude of more than half a decade, I have enough distance to see my teen-aged self dispassionately and wonder where the motivation for those ventures came from. It certainly wasn’t peer pressure– none of my friends or schoolmates knew about my excursions. I never talked about it. I always went alone.
My secret life was innocent enough, but private. It makes me wonder how unusual that is. Did everyone have a secret life like mine? Did anyone?
Did you? Tell.