Here I go again, spouting without a license about subjects I do not know.
One day a friend said about some rather dark poem, “What is the gift of that poem?” My friend knows his poetry; he was not looking for sappy sunlight in every poem, but some new and plausible way of seeing and saying things that are worth reporting. And by the way, to be sure he wasn’t plagiarizing or going off half-cocked, he attributed the notion of Poem as Gift to a professor he’d had.
Just to demonstrate my hip open-mindedness, I want to say that I can see, and could argue for, the gift in the first two of these paintings, “Spectral Rhythms” (1970s) by Charles McGee and “Be I” (1970) by Barnett Newman (in spite of its pretentious title).
However, I do not see much gift below in Picasso’s “Girl Reading” (1938). It’s likely I have never seen any Picasso painting as a gift, though he certainly shows us new ways of seeing things, and through that, potentially new ways of “being in the world” (a phrase common in the study of philosophy, I’m told, and I think it's a hugely important concept).
What is the value of Picasso’s rendering of this subject, except that it’s new? If a surgeon could attach a hand to the top of her head, a hand with fingers that wiggle, that would also give us a new way to think about girls who read, girls who don’t read, and all humans. Wouldn’t it?
Here is young Fritz Chickadee, Certified Gourmand. With his big orange treat, he's pretty cocky; he's also rather common and quite a flighty guy. His way of being in the world is both everything and nothing like my own, which he invited me to think about. In late November, he was a gift.