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"Smoking Woman" by Fernando Botero is currently on exhibit outside the Naples Museum of Art in Florida.

Day By Day: Just remember, art is life

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opinion River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
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Day By Day: Just remember, art is life
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Right when I think there just isn't anything more to say ... well, there is.

I recently got back from a wonderful vacation in Naples, Fla., courtesy of my beloved sister Mary and brother-in-law Dave. Mary has all the taste and class in our family, and consequently some of my best brushes with the good things in life have been thanks to her and her connections. And since she found and married Dave, it has been even better.


Sometimes when you are with the beautiful people, it can kind of go to your head and you start thinking your own life sucks. But Dave helps us all strike a healthy balance between enjoying the good life and staying true to our working-class background. Who but a bunch of rubes like us could have the invaluable insight necessary to understand how difficult it must be for $3 million homeowners to weather this current economic disaster?

Naples is a wonderful place with lots of regular people who just happen to live next door to millionaires (or people who used to be millionaires). You get to know them all when everybody shows up nightly for sunset on the gulf. That's the beauty of a place like Naples. The sunset and the beach are there for everybody, no matter how much money you have left and who your financial planner was.

We kept the week simple -- the beach, a little shopping and this year a trip to the Naples Museum of Art. It's a really impressive place right next door to the Naples Philharmonic. We went to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit and enjoy how he made the last depression look so quaint and wholesome. What I wasn't expecting was what met my eye before I ever went inside the door.

I had never heard of Colombian artist Fernando Botero and his work, but I knew the minute I saw "Smoking Woman" he was my new favorite. Who needs those anemic looking Rockwell stick figures?

I remember taking my first art history course from Sister Alice Rita when I was about 13 and seeing some of the great nude sculptures of Michaelangelo for the first time.

"Just remember, girls, that the human body is a work of art and if I hear as much as one snicker out of anybody, you'll be mopping up the floor in the art room for the rest of the year!"

But Botero's take on the human body is something quite special. Art history is full of voluptuous figures, but nothing quite as down to earth as this lady here and the rest of his paintings and sculptures. I found myself smiling, thinking, "These are my people."

I was delighted when I heard a well-dressed art patron say that the sculpture out front sold for $1.6 million. And I was beyond containing myself when I heard a man ask his tour guide, "Why is everybody so fat?"

"It isn't about fat," the docent said. "It's about volume.".

That's it. Never again will I go to the doctor and get "weighed." No. From now on, it will just be to check "my volume." Doesn't "Volume Watchers" sound better than Weight Watchers? And just what is someone's ideal volume? I think that sounds more open to interpretation.

I'm not overweight, just over-volume, and who's to say if that has to do with pounds or just talking too loud. Let 'em say it to my face.

No, this latest experience in the art world has left me a happy woman. That is not to say that I shouldn't take some steps to turn my "volume" down a little, but in the meantime it's good to know that all fat is not free. And at least I don't smoke.

Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
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