Art and Artillery

November 4, 2011

Who would have thought that the art of Willem De Kooning could be followed by a rowdy afternoon of gun-slinging fun. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only is it possible, but it was FANTASTIC!

One of the best days, ever. My Tuesday morning was spent gazing upon De Kooning’s incredible works of art, displayed in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions I’ve ever seen. And, what I loved most about the exhibit, was what I learned about the man, himself.

Willem De Kooning, Untitled VII 1987

De Kooning had some very simple explanations for his artwork. He just did what he did because he “felt” it or simply “liked” the effect he saw. Nothing more, nothing less. Brilliant. And, his paintings were brilliant. My favorite are the ones from his years in the Springs on Long Island. They were more peaceful and not as angry as his earlier work.  (“De Kooning: A Retrospective” through Jan. 9 at the Museum of Modern Art; (212) 708-9400,

Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952–53. Oil on canvas, 76 1/2 × 49 in. (194.3 × 124.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 55.35 © 2009 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Three hours later, I was off with two girlfriends, Nina and Tina, to do some shooting. Now, some of you may think this odd, but I can assure you, for me it is not. While not a card-carrying member of the NRA, I do happen to love target shooting. It happens to be a very zen experience, while being exhilaratingly fun at the same time.

Nina, Tina and myself entered The Westside Shooting Range and heard the harmonious sounds, only indigenous to a shooting range. We were met by a fully “sleeved” Castanza look-a-like, who checked us in.

We didn’t have to wait long until our instructor, Raymond, introduced himself and ushered us into the classroom. Let me give you a little background on Raymond. He is an architect by trade, and specifically designs daycare centers for Headstart. But, teaching people how to shoot guns just happens to be one of his passions. You get the sense that this is a pretty common occurrence. People get hooked and then become super passionate about shooting. And, I get it.

That's Raymond (with me looking ridiculous)

So, we three NY suburban Jewish moms settled in and soaked up everything Raymond said. We were learning how to shoot a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. We spent a lot of time on safety and how to safely handle the .22, which fires a bullet close to the speed of sound.

Once our tutorial was over, we loaded our “magazines” with bullets. We had 10 magazines filled with five bullets each. So, we shot 50 bullets each.

.22 Magazines

.22 Magazines


Bullets for the magazines

Bullets for the magazines

We put on our headphones and protective eye-gear, hung up our designer bags on the hooks behind us, and stood locked and loaded in our individual target stalls. We started shooting at 25ft out and then rolled our targets to 50ft away.

I can’t remember the last time I smiled so wide and so genuinely while doing anything. What a thrill.

That's me, thrilled. Next time, I'm not wearing the big poncho.

I could have stayed there and shot another 10 “mags” (don’t I sound like a professional?), but we had to get back home. Our families were awaiting us, homework had to be checked, and dinner had to be put on the table.

Well, when I walked in the door and showed Mark, Sam and Jake my target sheet, they couldn’t believe it. As they say, I was a “tight shot”.

Check out my shooting...I'm what one calls a "tight shot"

It’s hanging on the same wall next to my boys’ artwork. Because, after all, for me, it is a work of art. And, just as De Kooning incorporated various techniques into his painting because he simply liked it, I simply like shooting guns.

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