Sunday, March 27, 2011

Monet at the Mall

Paintings by Marsha Heller

Once upon a recent time, on a wondrous spring day in New Jersey, for some unfathomable reason everyone headed to the mall. I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to spend a Saturday inside shuffling in circles when one could be outside riding a bike. But apparently every teenager, mom with a baby and stroller, and guy with nothing else to do thought the mall was the place to be. It may have been March, but at the mall, it was Christmas.
            Now why, might you ask, would I—an avid mall hater—even know this? Obviously, because I was there, too. But I was there because my computer needed a new battery, not because I wanted to be "cool" or required a designer pocketbook (I can honestly say that I’ve never owned one).
            Unfortunately, on that particular Saturday, I was unaware that the new Ipod 2 had just come out, so the Apple store was packed. And even though there were about 500 sales clerks servicing the three thousand people squeezed into the store, it still took me a while to get the battery and flee. As I was exiting the mall, it occurred to me that I could stop in and pick up some supplements at the vitamin store, but that would mean I’d have to wend my way through even more teenagers and strollers. Despite my yogic breathing, I could feel a panic attack coming on, so I stumbled to my car as fast as I could (which was not very fast, considering all the adolescents, strollers, and new mothers I had to fight off).
            Later in the day, I realized that I had to go to yet another mall to attend an opening of new works by Marsha Heller,  a wonderful artist I’ve known for many years. Thankfully, this particular mall  (a little more upscale) was not as crowded as the first, though it was still pretty jam-packed. Inside the art gallery, however, the mood changed immediately. The lighting was soft. The paintings—impressionistic landscapes--were colorful, lush, and uplifting. On a side table were grapes, cheeses, and wines. A CD player wafted classical music. Was it possible, I wondered, that I was really at a mall?
At the risk of sounding cranky or old-fashioned, it seems to me that if more malls offered the art gallery option, there’d be a lot less angst on the planet. And innocent people who just needed to pick up a computer battery or a bottle of B Complex could brave the terrors of the mall without fear, knowing that after battling for parking, wending through strollers and lanky gangs of fourteen-year-olds, being assaulted by rock and rap music blasting from the depths of those stores that sell hip clothing and are as dark and dank as prehistoric caves, surviving the stench of the perfume and make up aisles and the raucous sounds and irritating aromas of the food court, you could –if you should so choose—reward yourself with a little visit to an art gallery. There, a lovely artist would welcome you with wine, cheese, and beautiful paintings.
Now that, in my opinion, is worth a trip to the mall.

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