Purple Rain, Yellow Brick Road

Thoughtfulness about color is typically associated with creative types. Yet we all think about color when we decide how to present ourselves to the world each day. Whether it’s the color of our clothes, the car we drive or the walls in our homes, our palette choices provide some clues as to who we are – or aspire to be. (I assume this has been on your mind, too, given Prince’s passing and his love of all things purple.)

Mark Twain is credited with observing that “clothes make the man.” I was reminded of this recently by a young man’s wardrobe choice, although not a celebrity and we never saw his face. We were walking to a restaurant around 8:00 p.m. on a Friday evening, just as most stores were closing, while visiting Portland, Maine. As we were rounding a corner, a beauty salon caught our attention, as its lights were still on. I glanced inside, which was challenging as half he windows were obscured by frosted film. The salon’s décor was a simple black and white. There was just one customer and his stylist. The man wore nondescript jeans. But what caught my attention were his shoes – a wonderfully optimistic pair of marigold colored Converse sneakers.

It’s not often that you see yellow shoes. Okay, so this was the Maine College of Art’s backyard, so creative souls inhabit the neighborhood. But it was a chilly, early spring evening so this lovely splash of color couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face with all the possibility it communicated. We associate yellow with optimism and cheerfulness.  Yes, warmer days are on the horizon; tomorrow is another day; be brave and live boldly. All those positive sentiments came to mind prompted by a two-second glance at a pair of jaunty sneakers.

Moral of this story is to remember to occasionally try and observe what’s around us as we hurry from place to place. With every visual impression there is a possibility of an idea. Most won’t be inspirational, but some will cause us to think broadly. And some will be worth snapping that quick picture to rekindle – or share – the moment.


Take a look around…

Years ago, I remember attending a presentation by a National Geographic photographer who advised us to “take a look around” and literally turn away from the obvious photo subject to consider other perspectives. And, he promised, a better picture would emerge. Applause to Bowdoin Museum of Art for taking a look around, and instead of assembling a predictable exhibit of home state Maine’s glimmering seacoast, their gallery show is titled “Night Visions” and showcases works of art representing the mystery of darkness. The show spans several centuries and features mixed media – vintage photography of NYC evenings, a rich array of paintings, woodblocks and sculptures, culminating with a 21st century video reminiscent of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

Although visiting museums may not be on your “must-see” sights while vacationing on the Maine coast, think of this detour as a way to avoid sunburns or outlet shopping. This little museum does not charge admission, by the way (donations warmly accepted). Just sharing a little carmen sense; hope you get there!

Bowdoin Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine
Bowdoin Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine