Interpreting Signs

This blog will be part frustration and part deliberation. So what does that mean exactly? Well, I have been dealing with a parking situation since last September. People have been used to parking at what is now my studio for free for many years, day and night despite signs saying parking was only available after 7 pm.

Now the game plan has changed. Both my husband and myself will be holding events and he now has many businesses that require reserved parking spots. Public parking is across the street and there is plenty of parking at the hotel next door. Our signs are visible and clearly state that it is now private property and for business purposes only, 24/7, all stalls reserved and violators will be towed at their expense. There are at least 8 to 11 signs saying pretty much the same. Simple, right? Apparently not.

I’ve heard many excuses like: “I’ve parked here for 10 years”, “Does that mean only during business hours?”, “Why not?”, “Are you serious?”, “Yeah, but I have to pay a quarter if I’m more than an hour in the public lot”, I’m just going for dinner” , “Do I have to visit your studio to park here?” and my personal favorite: “I didn’t see the signs”. All 8 to 11 of them!

So this got me thinking if it’s that difficult to read a clear cut sign and there are so many interpretations as to its exact meaning, how then, do we read art? Of course, I’m being a little facetious and I realize people are simply unwilling to adapt to the change and are justifying their actions but that’s for another blog?


Mark Rothko: Violet, Green and Red 1951

So back to art. So how do we interpret art? How do we interpret symbols? Even if the artist clearly states what the painting is all about, do we necessarily accept the artist interpretation as a fait accompli or do we question and “read” the painting according to who we are and are values? Think about this for a moment. You are standing in front of a Mark Rothko painting. There is, for all intents and purposes, nothing to read into. How does your mind interpret the lines? What do you read into it? Do you rely on color to guide you (a happy painting), do you look at the emotional feeling it imbues in you? Do you fixate on the textural feel to help you?


Diego Rivera: Pre-Hispanic America, 1950

If we look at this Diego Rivera painting, how do we read the colors, the story that is in the painting? What of the symbols ? Does it represent a day in the life of the Incas? Is it the Incas? Can we see and interpret paintings with anything but our own life experience and eyes? Can we relate to another world view? How does our mind translate something that is foreign to us? I don’t have the answer but I’m more of the we can only relate partially to something that is not known to us and the rest I relinquish to the realm of the mysterious and something to ponder and explore? What’s your take on this?

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