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Feeling and Thinking Perhaps?

Updated: Mar 27

When Mike Coleman invited us into the Loft space he runs (Tyler Loftis Studio) in Tribeca, he promised to teach us about art curation. After all, he’s an art dealer, a gallery owner and a once-a-long-time-ago artist himself - even if he hasn’t touched brush in years. But, that’s not surprising because determining how to curate art is nearly as complicated as creating art itself.

“I spent a whole day trying to figure out what I was going to show you,” he says as a group of ten of us stand looking at five pieces he has hung on the wall. Mike is tall, blonde-ish hair, a navy blue sweater. “It’s a lot of pulling pieces out. Placing them on the floor and getting a sense of how they work together. I had taken out a number of other pieces and was walking around the studio when all of a sudden I looked over and these ones were just working together.”

The pieces he had placed on the wall included work by artists Dov Platz, Tyler Loftis, and Paul Resika. And while the styles were different, the colors were different and the content of the images were different, they all just worked.

“Why?” A woman in the audience asked pointedly.

“What makes them all work together?”

“It’s about creating a feeling,” said Mike. “There is just a rightness when images work together.”

As he is explaining, two of his artists come up the stairs and walk into the Loft. Tyler and Dov, the artists whose images are hanging on the wall.

“Sort of like the way painting is a feeling?” I ask. “Like you know when a painting is done because it all just works? The same is true with curating?”

I had spent the past many years learning to paint: it was one of the activities that led me to seek out a deeper understanding of what makes an object, a sound or an idea beautiful.

“What are you asking about?” asks Tyler. He’s a successful artist and he carries around the aura of success: in the way he stands, the set of his face. His persona reaches past him.

“How pieces just fit together when they are meant to be together,” says Mike. And, I add, “like in a painting.”

Tyler nods in confirmation.

Tyler Loftis' Artwork

“Painting is all about feeling. Being an artist is a completely feeling based life.”

The group arrayed in front of him are not professional artists but some of them move through the world based on a deep sense of feeling. They nod along.

“So you live your life entirely by feeling?” A woman asks.

“Yes,” Tyler says without hesitation.

“Everything I make is based on feelings. It can sometimes seem like a hard way to live but it is how I live.”

Dov, the other artist, nods along in agreement.

“And, you Mike,” the same woman asks. “Do you live your life by feeling?”

Mike laughs and moves forward. “I try to live my life with feelings first.”

I feel deeply connected with Mike at that moment. I too try to live my life by feelings first. But, it is hard. We do not live in a world that prioritizes feelings, or I have not yet found myself there. Instead, I live in a world where people ask me to rationally defend my thoughts and beliefs. I was expecting when Mike agreed to talk about curation, that he would talk about size of paintings, or coordinating colors, or themes. I did not expect to be told it was just a matter of feelings - that some things work together and some things don’t.

“I do everything by feeling,” says the question-asking woman. “I think that is the only way I feel comfortable moving in the world.”

Artwork by Dog Platz

As she speaks, I’m left wondering if some of us are just natural feelers, and some of us are more analytical, or if there is something to be said for shedding thinking and moving completely towards feeling.

I have written a lot and in other spaces about intuition, which I consider a feeling out of the world. But, rather than call it a feeling, I would say it is a sussing. I suss out the world by tugging on little sparks of intuition. I wonder if intuition is the same as feeling one's way through the world. I think they are different: I think perhaps intuition brings us to a space where feeling can take over.

I intuitied my way to painting but while I am there I feel my way through the composition.

Mike intuitied his way from painting to curation and once there he has felt his way through that new art.

Tyler, interestingly, has known since he was a child that he would be an artist. And, he has spent his life feeling his way through his art form.

My friend, the question asker, she’s a fourth generation jeweler. And, I wonder if she had always known what her craft was and if it has been a matter of feeling her way through improving it.

I wonder if my life would be happier if I spent more time feeling and less time thinking. Except I know too that feelings can bring not just joy and purpose but pain. And, I wonder if there is something in that: that we lean into our thinking brains to protect us from the pain of our emotions. Maybe.

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