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The Beauty of Running


As a lifelong runner, last week marked not just the terrorization of my town but the terrorization of one of my favorite things to do, other than seeing art. For me, there is nothing as simple as putting on a pair of shoes and propelling my body through space. When I run, I find a mix of joy and simplicity; it's a way to disconnect for a moment from all the stuff I have to do. It's a sincerely selfish time that helps replenish my brain by clearing away everyone and everything but my legs. I think most runners would understand if I called it "undecorated time."

Beyond hosting the world's oldest annual marathon, Boston and Cambridge have long been hotspots for runners, and for artists inspired by running. Murakami's book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, starts in Hawaii, but it too can't help being inspired by Murakami's time on the banks of the Charles.

I'm not sure if Cambridge's Michael Mazur was a runner, but he certainly knew how to draw runners. His runners are familiar, even if only from the vantage point of your daily commute. They slip past people sitting on benches, they race each other (even when they aren't racing), and they carry nothing but themselves. The sun is not fully in the sky yet, and still they run. I don't think this is the Charles river, it looks like Chestnut Hill Reservoir to me, but wherever it is feels ideal for running; there are no distractions, only a bit of pavement, and no cars to avoid. He has captured the isolation and freedom of running.

Through the heavy cloud that has surrounded our lives these past weeks, let's try to remember the runners and the race.

Both images come from the MFA's sizable collection of Michael Mazur's work.
Michael Mazur's work at Barbara Krakow Gallery.
Michael Mazur's obituary.

About Author

John is an independent writer and curator. He was the Editor in Chief of Big Red & Shiny from 2012-13 and Journal Editor through June 2014. John has written for Art New England, Art Papers, Artsfuse.org, Artwrit.com, DailyServing.com, the New American Paintings blog, Printeresting.org and others.

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