Mike Ruby
Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

For more than five decades, Jo Anne and I have collected a wide variety of art, and we get immense joy from these pieces. Our choices may not appeal to a wealthy, sophisticated art collector, but we’re neither wealthy nor sophisticated, so who cares? Through the eyes of the beholder, a piece of art can be trash or treasure.

In 2014, we spent five weeks in New Zealand and Australia on a Rotary Friendship Exchange tour. We stayed with several different host families who we were meeting for the first time. On one occasion, our hosts met us at the airport, and within minutes we felt an instant connection with them. Our personalities meshed well, and soon we were laughing and joking as we walked to their car in the parking lot.

On the way to their home, we learned the lady was an artist and many of her pieces were displayed throughout the world. That sounded pretty exciting, and we were looking forward to learning more. Upon entering their stately home, we immediately noticed the walls were filled with oil paintings of all sizes, most of them abstract. It felt like we were in a gallery surrounded by artwork that we didn’t understand or appreciate.

Later that afternoon, the lady offered to show us her studio in the backyard, a detached building about the size of a double car garage. She revealed a massive canvas (about 6 x 8 feet) that she was putting the finishing touches on that would soon be shipped to a hotel in Hong Kong to be displayed in their lobby.

She explained in detail the “flow” of the piece, but we still had no clue. Honestly, it looked like a 6-year-old had spent a few minutes randomly hurling a bunch of brightly colored paint on a giant canvas. We politely nodded and smiled as she explained she had been working on the piece for nearly 3 months. We later learned her artwork was selling in the $10,000 – $25,000 range. Whoa! Clearly, I have zero knowledge or understanding of abstract art and the labor and thought that goes into it.

We had a delightful time during our brief visit, and even though we had been totally immersed in abstract art for two days, we still didn’t “get it” and probably never will. That’s the beauty of art; we all interpret it differently. To each his own.

What kind of artwork appeals to you?

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