The Value of Art and Dancing in the Rain

Monday Morning Musings:

“Great art evokes a response. . .emotion.”

Bruce Graham, The Craftsman

“We have a story we want to tell you about a play — a play that changed my life. Every night, we tell this story. But somehow I can never remember the end.”

–Lemml, at the beginning of Indecent by Paula Vogel

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. . .dance me to the end of love.”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”


The day began with a stunning sunrise

a prize or disguise

for what would come later?


Pitman golf coures, Pitman, NJ

We walk through city streets

listen to the beats

the syncopation of traffic and conversations

the announcements from underground stations,

look at the buildings and public art

take heart that the rain has not yet started.

I notice a clock, a reminder to go inside,

IMG_7431 2

the theater,

another world unfurls.


At the back of stage

projections of artwork by Vermeer


Johannes Vermeer, “Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

over them we suddenly hear

guns or bombs and the paintings disappear

overlaid with black

then from the back

a man appears to give a speech

he is the head of the provisional government,

the Nazis are gone

the dawn of a new time

but justice must be done.


The play is about a forger, a con man


who longs to be an artist, and when he can—

he also gets revenge upon the man, the critic

the con man’s a cynic

his wife, perhaps anti-Semitic

later she says she should have spoken out

without a doubt

a line that is relevant today

as is much of the play

which explores art, creativity, ability

and should an “expert’s” opinion hold dominion

over art

What is it worth, what is fake and what is real?

what will you pay to seal a deal?

I’m reminded of a man, an emperor with no clothes,

(as everyone knows)

who insists that his paintings (and news) are real

because he could never admit that he was taken

for a fool

(He is mistaken.)

The play is partly a courtroom drama

set in a particular time and place

the space converted

with a clever set and lighting

inviting us to see the different scenes—

office, jail cell, and courtroom.

there are flashbacks to the past,

and an excellent cast.

The setting is important–

the Netherlands had been occupied

those in the Resistance tried to defy

with some success, but also retaliation

leading to the Hunger Winter

and more lives splintered.

What should happen to those collaborate?

The play explores how we express hate

“revenge has become a spectator sport,”

do we resort then to the level of the oppressors?

We walk and talk

See a house with sunflowers


Walking now a bit in showers

discuss the play over wine, beer, and cheese

then out into the night

see rain reflecting off city lights

prance and dance

tap a beat onto the street.


Over homemade pizza and wine again

FullSizeRender 254

Cozy inside from wind and rain

we watch a play on TV,

we see

another story based on events that were real,

and we feel,

we definitely feel—

this play within a play

to Klezmer music, the actors dance

and ashes fall from their coats and pants

they dance to the end of love

and perhaps they dance then back again,

there is a scene in the original play,

written in 1907, God of Vengeance

by Sholem Asch

the scene, referred to as “the rain dance”

involves two women, lovers—

the play is about the history of that play

performed successfully in Yiddish in Europe,

then the cast was arrested on obscenity charges

when it was translated into English and performed in the U.S.

(not a success),

the play is performed in the Lodz ghetto, in an attic room,

though all there know, they are probably doomed.

The play is about a culture lost

to time, to the Holocaust,

but it is about past and present

and how art matters

even when people are battered, shattered

their life in tatters,

and though some only value art for its monetary worth

the true value is in what it brings forth

in emotion and feeling

art sends those who value it reeling–

makes us think and want to dance in the rain

again and again

makes us laugh, or cry

makes us sigh and want to defy

Does it change our lives?

Yes, this I know,

art does, and helps us grow.


We saw the Lantern Theater Company.’s  production of The Craftsman.

We saw Indecent on PBS’ Great Performances. You may still be able to see in online.













17 thoughts on “The Value of Art and Dancing in the Rain

  1. Your collage of reflections makes me wish for a weekend in Philly sometime. Vermeer’s A Girl Reading is one of my favorites. I may have had a poster of it once. Right now I’m reading about the value of art in Anne Truitt’s Daybook: The Journal of an Artist. As both writer and sculptor, she was often able to mentally conceive of a work, sometimes like an instant brainwave and then execute it in real time. My mind doesn’t work like that.

    Thanks for all the reflections, including the street scene at night.

  2. Any time I see a Vermeer, I find myself trying to see through the eyes of the subject. If I were to do that for Trump’s Renoir, it might explain the smiles of the “Two Sisters” as they look out at The Donald.

    Nice sunrise.

    • Hahaha–especially the look of the older sister, “What is that?”
      You are right about the paintings of Vermeer. There seems to be a story to them. There’s a scene in the play where one man analyzes the painting, The Love Letter.
      My husband actually took the sunrise photo. He works at that golf course part-time.

  3. A lot to ponder, as usual.
    I think a lot about art attribution…why is it “better” if we know that a certain artist painted it? I continue to wonder how you can value something more just because it was made by one person and not another. Is is good or not? The name of the artist should not change that evaluation.
    Your photos give atmosphere (again as always) to your words. (K)

    • Thanks, Kerfe. Yes, I’ve also wondered about the name value of a work. And of course, there are artists who became famous and their art more expensive only after they died. But I guess a forgery is different, in that someone could get as much pleasure from looking at it, if it was skillfully done, but the forger did not have the artistic vision, only the technical skill (which, I suppose is something that could be valued in its own right). Both plays covered so many issues, it was hard to get it all in. 🙂

  4. Yes, it’s true. The emperor with no clothes is the biggest fool in the land. And art matters, so very much. There are some interesting works of art coming out of all this. Just saw a video (by Amanda Palmer) the other day about the wall and so many other things.
    Wonderful musings, Merril. The Vermeer is one of my favorites. I really like the image of the building with sunflowers. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin.
      I was saying to my husband how everything we see now (TV, movies, plays, etc.) seems to be a comment on the present.
      The house with the sunflowers was fun. It’s in one of the small alley-type streets in Philadelphia, and I just happened to look down and see it. 🙂

  5. The pacing of this makes it sound very pleasant and has a rhythm, Merril.
    I like the way you include much but don’t overwhelm the reader nor force us to know everything which was covered.
    I love sunflowers and like to keep them as decorations, from August until end of October. 🌻🌻

      • They are just the most cheerful flowers. For scent, there’s roses or lilacs, but they are fragile in a vase.
        I know saying this was mostly light hearted but this post suited a “just right” feeling. . . wait till you read my post tomorrow. It will show some bearing upon my comments. Comforting posts helped me yesterday and today. hugs xo

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