Art School and The Octopus

Art School. That was a grim phase of life. What with all the drawing, printing, etching, molding, painting, gouaching, cutting, glazing, folding, inking, “seeing the world afresh”  scherenschnitting, scrunching, shading, forging, composing, cropping, glass-blowing, carving, bisquing, dyeing, grave-robbing, critiquing, installing, knotting, plaiting, tampering, measuring, repatriating, eyeballing, sponging, defeathering, sabotaging, spraying, plastering, sewing, and Old-Master bashing.

The thing is, I suck at all of those things. Even cutting. No, wait. I was good at bashing the Old Masters. It was the one thing that endeared me to my classmates: Murillo? Orphan with a Cherub Problem. Jacques-Louis David? Regicide with a sumptuous fabric problem. Michelangelo? I’m the most talented artist ever!!!!  Millet? I love to draw hay!! Van Eyck? I’m from Bruges!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The thing is: I just did it to make my classmates laugh. The thing is: I love the Old Masters and often went to bed at night riddled with guilt and self-loathing.

It was a painterly time. And I mean that in the bad way.

I was going to blog about it. About my non-fictional, ill-starred stint in art school which no one knows about–not even my close friends and family. But then I realized –oh hey–I bet there are certain things people don’t know about octopuses. Unless they read this article in Orion magazine, which my friend Katie, who works for the Albuquerque zoo, sent me:

If they did read it, which Katie and I both did, they would know that octopuses can taste with their suckers, can possibly “see” with their skin, can unscrew childproof aspirin bottles and solve complex mechanical puzzles. They can shape-shift and alter their color to impersonate other sea life such as a flatfish, lionfish, or a passel of sea snakes. They can frolic and caress their human friends. Gently. With their tentacles. Or they can burn off your flesh like sea foam with their venom.

An eight-foot long, 100 pound octopus can squeeze itself to fit through an orange-size opening. Some of them like to hole up in discarded beer bottles. They eat each other. They go barmy unto death after they mate. Most of their neurons are concentrated in their arms and a dismembered arm seems to have a mind of its own–wriggling away and procuring food, attempting to feed its phantom mouth.

Check out this video of an octopus slinking around on land:!

All of this is to say. Octopuses: What the Hell?! and Octopuses: Hooray!!

*(First and last images belong to etsy artists.Their shops are named Vozamer and Amberalexander, respectively.)