"You'll Know It When You See It."
Another tough one to round out a tough weekend, but this one, at least, was pretty enjoyable. There was a tricky cross at NOVO (61A: Porto-____ (capital of Benin)) and OSAGE (63D: Traditional enemies of the Kiowa), but Frannie thought a final/beginning O was more likely than anything else, and it turned out that she was right. The other killer cross, for us anyway, was between two perfectly normal words, SIMILE and REIN. Schoenholz set us up perfectly with the back-to-back clues of 14D: As easy as pie, say and 15D: As easy as ___. Who didn't try SIMpLE for that first one? (and pie for the second?) We clung to simple so hard that we stared at REpN in the grid for a good long time. I tried to re-work the whole area around Simple by trying Rope, and Repe ("could that mean something?"), but eventually, finally, took most of it out and started from scratch, and the answer came. And the difference between those two crosses is that when we settled on the O in NOVO, we just crossed our fingers and moved on. When SIMILE finally forced its way into our brains, we had big smiles and a lot of respect for the puzzle creator.
The theme was a good one for us (who doesn't love art?), and hearing what those famous people had to say about it was interesting. As with most quote themes, they are not immediately guessable, but they can usually be worked out when enough letters are revealed. The hardest one in that respect was probably the penultimate, as "talk" "walk" "work" and others could have fit as the third word in THEPROPERTASKOFLIFE (107A: Answer to 67-Across, per Nietzsche).
The fill was, for the most part, enjoyable. I still don't know what NITRE (KNO3, in Britain) is (I'm guessing it's their way of saying "nitrous"), but the crosses there (even HORAE, thanks to my recent Classical studies) were all gettable without too much trouble. DIS (76D: Slam), despite being "modern," which other crossword bloggers seem to like, isn't all that satisfying to me. And I didn't know that TREF meant (36D: Not kosher), but that's ok, because I do now! Loved GETMARRIED (95A: End an engagement?), and 58A: Oranges and Lemons was a tricky way of clueing TREES.
For us, the occasional APERS and NOVO and SOV (44D: U.S.S.R. part: Abbr.)(lame)) were more than made up for by zippy fill like WELLINEVER (55A: Indignant reply), FUSSPOT (98A: Particular sort), CHAOS (10A: Original state of the universe, in myth), Frannie's favorite - MATH (66A: What's nothing but problems?), and many more.
Oh, and one last thing, this is a new blog and we have very few readers, but one, I know, will want to see a shout-out for 19A: Baja vacation spot, familiarly. I'll not give the answer away, but you - and you know who you are - should enjoy this one! Maybe this is when you can start handing the puzzle back and forth with that wife of yours!