Walmart, Movement, and Life


I bet you never thought you'd see those words together in a title.

I just read an article about an artist who paints pictures of people and food in Walmart. He says that "light and color and form are what keep humankind from existential despair and loneliness" and he found hope in the cereal aisle at Walmart. I'm not kidding. He's made a ton of money, by the way, and his art hangs in the corporate offices of Walmart. He cares about bringing art into everyday life. He has a website,, that encourages people to be artists, especially kids. It's a great idea.

Yet I have a mixed reaction to art about Walmart. My first is resistance. Why should I like this? Another is, you've got to be kidding. Oreos? Macaroni and cheese? Give me Titian or Vermeer or even the cave paintings at Lascaux. Those fit my cultural definition, Campbell's soup cans notwithstanding. Yet why not see ketchup bottles in disarray as reminiscent of the negative space in Raphael's drawings?

I bring this up because the study of movement (which is actually the study of perception as they are not distinct---one never moves separate from how one feels) often elicits the same response: You've got to be kidding, I have to learn how to move? Balderdash, I know how to do that already. I've done PT and I cycle and I do crossfit and I take yoga and I hike and I swim and, and, and, and...

Yet, the sublime, the subtlety, and the mystery come not from the mechanics but from rendering the expression of it. And that expression brings us back to life itself. It is the artist's rendering of the grocery store aisles that evokes sympathy, shock, interest, or appreciation of light, color and form. It is interesting that my prejudice against consumerism prevents me from seeing the latter. I see the product, not the art. Just as in movement we are culturally oriented to see mechanics, muscles, or joints, not the life they express.

It's the little things that keep us going. The shimmer of rose on a cloud at sunset, the retreival of a dropped wallet, the smile of a stranger in shared appreciation of a doggie moment. I feel my mind has expanded to think of art like I think of movement: The mechanics of moving is one thing, the expression of it another.