A friend said this to me recently, and I still don't know exactly how to respond. To rebuff is not an option - generally, that statement is followed by "I don't understand it". Fair enough. It does make me sad though.

The person who said this to me is an active, critical thinker. She is curious, she asks questions, she likes learning. It made me doubly sad to hear this from her, a person who could gain so much from art.

These are moments when the term "art" is too big, its history too long and burdensome. It's when I especially hate those Art Nite painting classes that call themselves art and confuse everyone - the ones where each person comes home with the same average scrawl of a mountain and the space needle. Applying paint to a canvas is a wonderful feeling, and feeling the weight both of the paint and the pressure of the mark could be so useful.

By and large those same people go and spend large sums of money on mass-produced canvases from big box stores when they could spend the same amount on something from a real artist, someone whose livelihood depends on their work. Someone who's thought about it.

I suggested to my friend that we go to a gallery together. My friend is an interviewer, so I took her to the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. We saw a show on the modern portrait, and we talked about different styles and how you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. I suggested that a portrait is like an interview. I told her about a work I had recently purchased just because it made me smile. She asked questions.

We saw another show about heroin addiction - the photographer was an ex-addict. He wrote about how he was clean now, and how the self-portraits he did when he was using are a powerful tool to keep him from relapsing. At the end of the gallery there was a statement on the wall: "If you're struggling with any of the problems dealt with in this show, contact some of these local agencies who can help". Below sat a selection of brochures and contact numbers. My friend had struggled with some dark times herself. Seeing something like this then could have helped.

I don't know whether she'll go to a gallery again, but I feel like she'll at least think about it. She'll give "art" a chance.

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