Beyoncé’s anthem to single ladies was more about getting revenge on the man who didn’t appreciate her than it was about the joys of being single.
Instead of singing about enjoying the company of another man, what she should have sung about is how great it is to buy art you want without asking anybody for permission or, even, validation.
Admittedly, “Buying art on my own” doesn’t sound like the makings of a “Single Ladies”-level dance hit, but it was a big day for me.
I was in Australia on a trip with my son and his friend. We were visiting Uluru, the breathtaking rock structure (formerly known as Ayers Rock) that is a sacred spot for indigenous Australians.
It’s a beautiful place, but like most of Australia, it’s crawling with poisonous creatures, and it’s a difficult place to relax. But when I found myself at a gallery surrounded by amazing art by indigenous Australians, I was finally able to let my guard down.
That’s when I saw The Duck and the Diver, and I was mesmerized. This stunning triptych retells, abstractly, an indigenous folktale about two birds from different tribes whose friendship and love is tested by betrayal. I knew I wanted it, and although my son gave the piece a thumbs up, I still felt uneasy about the purchase.
Would I like it as much in my home as I did in the gallery? Or was I just so happy to be out of biting distance of all the poisonous things that I was misinterpreting relief as love? Was the gallery owner reputable and honest- they said that it was run like a coop for the benefit only of the native aborigines but it was difficult to figure out if this was truthful. Was it really done by the artist that they had an amazing story about? Would I see this art, or my money, ever again?
I was on my own to answer all these questions.
I’ve been collecting art for years, but until recently, I always had someone to consult with – either my husband or my mother – before I made a big art purchase, or any big decision, for that matter.
Since my divorce and the death of my mother, however, those decisions are all mine. If I’m being honest, it’s scary not to have the safety net of another person who can help me own my decisions.
It’s also freeing. I was free to linger in front of The Duck and the Diver as long as I wanted. Free to meander through the gallery at my own pace. I didn’t have to answer to anybody else’s needs other than my own (I should add that my son is an adult now, so he’s self-sustaining.)
There are all kinds of perks to being a single lady in charge of her own ship, but I didn’t fully appreciate them until I went to Uluru and discovered The Duck and the Diver.
As it turns out, the art dealer was perfectly reputable. The artist was s charitable and skilled as they had shared with me. The Duck and the Diver now occupies a place of honor in my home, and every time I see it, I thank it for giving me courage to make it part of my life.
And, in fact, I love it even more than I did in the gallery.