This weekend I attended my third craft fair of the season. I do love these events, although what I love is not necessarily the same faux bayberry and pine wreathes that I might have bought seven years ago, or even the oh-so-adorable lampshade cover that I bought last year. Don’t get me wrong, those items – along with the doll clothes, pet kerchiefs, and wooden roses – are usually beautifully crafted and well marketed.
They are just not always my thing.
I’m starting to appreciate new and different things, a startling use of the color pink on a hand-painted silk scarf, a butter-soft leather tote bag, something that just grabs me and pulls me towards it. It’s all good you see. The artistic vision and technique found in these pieces give just as much beauty as in a classic framed photograph of Rockport, MA’s Motif #1, or a wood carved chess set.
Ron MacLean is an artist who knows what he’s doing. He asks you to trust that he will tell you a story. He asks you to trust that there’s a good chance you’ll take away more than you imagined. Not every story in Why the Long Face is for all tastes, they weren’t all mine. Yet each one offers beauty.
“Las Vegas Wedding” plays like a recurring dream, a surreal snowball of nonlinear narrative, gradually rolling, forwards – and then backwards, adding layers of situations and characters – like Gertrude Stein of all people.
There are similar stories, surreal from the get-go. And some, begin more conventionally.
In “Aerialist”, newly widowed Nick learns that his five-year-old daughter, Katie, can walk with amazing calm and precision over unexpected heights. Nick is stunned when it’s two feet off the ground in the living room; he’s shocked when she maneuvers a second floor stair railing with ease. And the dichotomy here is not blatant; we know five-year-old children do not have that kind of skills that Katie continues to exhibit. But MacLean allows us to accept what’s happening – we feel only as much doubt and fear as Nick does – nothing more.