"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Joanne Mattera and the Ico Gallery - an Unlove Story

I read Joanne Mattera’s blog on an infrequent basis. Mattera literally wrote the book on encaustic before it became the hot trend that it is. She lives and works in New York City and definitely has a finger on the pulse of what’s happening and popular. She writes a column every Monday on the business of the arts and it’s obvious that she’s well connected to the NYC gallery scene.

Enter Ico Gallery. Actually the full name is Icosahedron Gallerie so you can see why they go by the short version. Ico Gallery is a vanity gallery – that is, they show the work of artists who have paid to be shown. Vanity galleries are on the bottom rung of the gallery ladder, because theoretically no one wants to pay to show work in a gallery if they can get an invitation to show for free.

Fast forward to the point of my post. Ico Gallery invited Joanne Mattera to show with them and she turned them down. They took offense at the turn down and gave Mattera the Hillbilly of the Week Award. If you go to Mattera’s blog, you can follow the whole exchange of comments, recriminations, insults and one up-manships.

It reminds me of the Healthcare debate and of the current state of almost everything in this country. Some people have a vested interest in keeping things status quo, and some people – obviously those on the outside looking in – want to crack the code and even out the playing field.

I looked at several of the Ico Gallery catalogues – all of which are available in their entirety on the website. Some of the work is really interesting and some of it is crap. My opinion? Definitely. Would you agree? Probably in principle but perhaps not case by case.

I looked at the work Mattera posted this week in honor of the Vernal Equinox. Some of it was really interesting and some of it was crap. You get my drift.

What I find troubling is the vehemence of the attacks on both sides. Yikes. Everyone knows common courtesy and respect have both flown the coop, but I can’t seem to adjust. Whatever happened to the big picture – the high ideal – where we strive to be respectful and honoring of others and their beliefs? Where’s humility?

The skeptic in me thinks it must be good for both sides because a good public fight will get their respective blogs a lot of hits. And bloggers love hits. I’ve already wondered whether writing this will get my blog more hits because entering one or the other of the subject’s names into Google might lead to me. I’ll report back.

However. My real point is this – it’s easy to be egocentric and to believe the world revolves around you – or collectively us – that is, those of us who are both in agreement, and friends. And then it’s easy to start making offhand, flippant comments and throwing around insulting names like hillbilly. But anyone who has visited rural Appalachia in the past twenty years and witnessed the devastating poverty there would never ever call anyone a hillbilly again. Not even in fun.

And being bestowed with that title shouldn’t be bandied about. It should be ignored. It takes a certain grace to turn and walk away from insults. I’d like to see a little more of that grace in the world.

Another time: Am I a party pooper? If it’s funny, isn’t it ok? That fine line between mean sarcasm and good humor.


  1. Jane,
    Not a party pooper. Humility is not a popular word, but it should be. It takes a certain strength of heart, a courage beyond the norm - to exhibit humility. When I see this kind of thing I see a spiritual weakness. Thank you for your post.

  2. I read a quotation the other day, don't remember who was quoted or where: It listed three rules--1. Be kind. 2. Be kind. and 3. Guess what? Be kind. Sort of the seventy times seven times we should forgive. Be kind, pretty simple.

  3. Great post! Be kind indeed! When I learned to play tennis, there was wonderful polite court etiquette and then along came McEnroe, Nastase, etc and even 'polite tennis' went out the window. I have to agree that the recent political agenda is appalling, and as others do, I also fear that it may fan the flames of fanatics. I think that the internet has allowed a great deal of this to happen....we can hide behind a somewhat invisible veil and hurl verbal attacks at those who threaten us. It is sad.

    Thanks again for a great post.

  4. I'm completely in agreement with your appeal, Jane, to show humility and grace. With all the furor that surrounds us -- internet, cable news, etc. -- we can easily lose sight of the greater humanity -- "those people are morons", etc. We must strive to see the bigger picture and take the high road - and elect leaders who "walk the walk."

  5. So are our leaders a reflection of we the people or vice versa?

  6. I totally agree with everyone. These are tough times for humanity. I feel that it is my responsibility to know the news, yet when I see and hear how people are behaving, I want to be a hermit (I kind of am already!).
    This is one of my favorite statements of Jane's: "It takes a certain grace to turn and walk away from insults. I’d like to see a little more of that grace in the world." Plus, I would like to see more people saying "no" we are not going to say...anymore. Equity has always been an issue for me, in all areas of life.
    Thank you for your post, Jane and fellow commentors.