Bergdorf Goodman & Being a Good Man/Woman

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One of my favorite things to do in New York City at Christmas time is to walk up 5th ave and look at all of the store windows decorated for Christmas. This year my favorite windows were by Bergdorf Goodman.

 

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The estimated value of each window is about $100k+ per window. From the crystals, and precious stones, to the imported textiles, the robotic moving parts that make the windows come to life, these windows are a work of art. What I would give to design one of the windows! With a $100k budget, I know I could come up with something spectacular! 😉

But the thing that stood out to me the most among the crowds, the glitz, and the glam was the crippled man with his small, shriveled legs in a wheelchair, shivering in a hoodie begging for money in front of a $100,000 window display. Ouch. If that doesn’t cut to my little American consumer heart I don’t know what does.

 

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The dazzling windows sparkle and are so inspirational that it makes me think about ordering gemstones and crystals and embedding them into my paintings. I already love the way my gold leaf catches the light and adds a sparkle to my pieces, what’s next? Perhaps gemstones, or reflective mirror pieces? Or maybe a donation to a local homeless shelter?

I think what makes these windows so inspirational is the continuity between, color, light, texture, form, and balance. These windows contain a lot of seemingly unrelated items, quirky objects, and expensive bobbles, but when they come together as one unified piece of art, they make sense, and tell a story.

What makes the man in the wheelchair so heartbreaking is the contrast between him and the windows, and knowing that there is only so much I can do for him. I know that there is so much that I cannot do for him, and I’ll never know the entirety of his story.

Just walking up 5th ave is an experience in itself. Everyone is stopping to take photos of the windows, to snap a selfie with the expensive décor. These stores spare no expense to showcase their artistry. The beauty and artistry is evident, if it weren’t, nobody would give the windows a second glance.

What if we lined up to take a selfie with the old, crippled man in the wheelchair? What if we could make people feel as valuable as things? What if we gave the man a second glance.

I’m not saying Bergdorf Goodman is bad, or evil, or that they shouldn’t try to make a profit on their business. Let me be clear, in no way am I judging retailers, I am a retailer. I’m simply making the observation that the stark contrast between a $100k window and a crippled beggar in front of it was enough to make me a little sick. The windows are stunning pieces of art, they should keep up the artistry! But we should also remember the people in front of them on the cold ground, with shriveled legs who are worth more than the $100k display.

 

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Of course I don’t spend my money in the wisest of ways either. It is a privilege to bring beauty and hope into peoples lives through art, or beautiful store windows. But lets not forget about the people’s lives we are trying to touch.

End Note: Not pictured is the crippled man in front of the windows. I didn’t ask his permission for a photo.

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