March 17, 2004

Squished between my Discovering Psychology Study Guide and 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex I came tonight upon a hidden treasure in my bookshelf. Lautrec. Back in tenth grade I won an award for outstanding achievement in visual arts from my teacher. (This is singularly amusing if you've ever seen my "art". I learned quickly that words were my gift, not pictures.) The award was a hardcover book of paintings I didn't recognize. At the time I remember being disgusted with such a gift. Why on earth would I want a book of stupid paintings? But my mother, in a rare burst of wisdom, told me not to get rid of the book. That one day I may find value in it.

Tonight I spotted the book quite by accident. I was scanning my bookshelf for inspiration on what to write. And there it was. Lautrec. The name leapt out at me suddenly. THE Lautrec? Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the French painter of the 1800s bohemian frenzy? The one whose stunningly elegant yet oddly spare works advertised for the likes of Le Moulin Rouge in Montmartre? Yes. That Lautrec.

All this time, through art and art history classes, through excursions in the impressionist gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and through more viewings of Moulin Rouge! than I can track, I've had this treasure sitting neglected on my own bookshelf. Glossy pages of glorious works by Lautrec. Cancan, The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge, The Laundress...

I suppose the profound lesson in this little anecdote is that you should never look a gift horse in the mouth. Or more to the point... abre los ojos. Open your eyes.

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