Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Running As Art

One of the things I got to do during the long holiday weekend was visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, as we locals call it. This was quite a momentous occasion for me because despite the fact that I live just five blocks east of this prestigious institution of fine art and pass it almost everyday on my way to Central Park, it was the first time I’d actually set foot within the building in more than two years. And to think I wholeheartedly thought I’d spend all my free weekends at the museum discovering all the works of my favorite Impressionists when I first moved into the neighborhood six years ago…yeah right!

Actually, to be truthful, the only reason I went over there this past weekend was because a friend of mine (an out-of-town tourist no less) informed me that the museum was holding a special exhibit called Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy over the summer, and I really wanted to check it out. Go figure that in spite of all the magnificent and internationally renowned artwork decorating the galleries, it is a display of costumes from fictional comic book characters that finally gets me to pay The Met a visit. Yes, the whole situation would have been comical had it not been so sad!

No, I’m not going to give a review of the exhibit, because honestly, I don’t think I fully appreciated what I saw. But one interesting thought I had while I was perusing the product of the costume designer’s passion for his work, was whether or not the work of my own passion, namely running, could ever be regarded as a piece of art. It is obvious that writing or blogging about running would count as a form of art, but what about the act of running itself? Could I be considered an artist just because I run?

It is an intriguing question, really, one that I had never thought about previously. But after mulling it over during my 20 mile long run yesterday and my 8 mile recovery run today, I think I can come up with five reasons why as a runner, I’m every bit as artistic as the guy who designed Batman’s costume or the guy who painted the Mona Lisa; okay, maybe just not as famous...yet! So hear me out.

Five Reasons Why Running Is Art

1. Running, like art, is a creative process. In so much as making art is the construction of an intangible idea or emotion into something material or tangible, so too is running concerned about the transformation of a passion or a sentiment into an act that is perceptible and practical.

2. Running, like art, is a form of self-expression. Art, in some ways, can be perceived as an attempt by the artist to convey a certain message or emotion to the audience at large. When we run, especially in a race setting, we are likewise moving our bodies to deliver a sense of well-being and health to anyone witnessing the event.

3. Running, like art, is inspirational. Because we can both be inspired to run and at the same time, allow our running to inspire others, the act of putting one foot in front of the other in a certain manner and at a certain speed achieves the same end purpose as any other form of art.

4. Running, like art, is interpretative. Since no two runs are ever the same and similarly no two runners are ever the same, each run, no matter the speed, the distance, or the course, is always subject to individual interpretation. What I perceive to be an easy pace fun run around the park may serve as a hard tempo long distance death march for another…or so I’ve been told.

5. Running, like art, begets itself. Because great artwork inspires other great pieces of art, so too does great running feats lead to other great running feats. I believe this natural propagation of art and running is what ultimately keeps both of these disciplines alive and well.

So the next time you happen to find yourself at a wine-and-cheese reception, schmoozing amidst a food critic, a wine connoisseur, a playwright, and an architect, do not be afraid to jump into the conversation and explain why your hardcore marathon training makes you every bit just as artsy-fartsy as any of them. At the very least, you can impress upon them why you’ll be more likely to stick around to enjoy the fruits of your labor! ‘Nuff said.

As always, feel free to agree or disagree with my assessment.


Nitmos said...

I've been telling my wife for years that the haphazard clutter of my dirty dishes around the sink is Art and that she should not make me destory by creation by "loading the dishwasher". Now I have this post to reference to back me up.

As "they" say, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'.

And this beholder says, Yes, running is a form of art.

sRod said...

Amazing the things that creep into your head while running. I completely agree. Although I'm sure if anyone saw me running that would say that is the least artistic thing they've ever seen.

nyflygirl said...

I saw that superhero exhibit!! Fun, wasn't it? :)

Meg said...

Cool post! Definitely something to think about on my next run.
It's funny how when we live so close to something we assume we'd take advantage of it but never do...there's always next weekend!

Xenia said...

Your slow runs are my impossible runs.

So, you're saying my running is akin to performance art. Kind of like Elaine from Seinfeld's dancing? ;)

The Happy Runner said...

Never thought of running that way -- thanks for opening my eyes!

Thanks for stopping at my site, too. I was looking for your running as fickle lover post -- I'd love to read it! Can you send me a link or comment back with it and I'll check in later? Thanks!

Continued good luck with your marathon training!

Viper said...

I always thought I was statuesque. Sadly, even in my running.

Great post! And I enjoyed your interview over at the Lounge! Cheers to you, sir!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on being the star of today's Runners Lounge column. I thought you had some great responses!

You're famous now :)

MizFit said...

man Im STILL BUMMED I never mad it to that exhibit.

will you take requests?

weight training as art?


AK said...

I agree... running is an art. But it is also a form of meditation. How many times have we gone out on a run to release some of the stresses of our daily life?

P.S-- Thanks for the welcome

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