Here in the greater D.C. area there are several Art Walks each month. Galleries in a certain area will all open for a few hours in the evening and have wine and cheese and people can go look at the artwork. Dupont Circle has one one the first friday of each month, so we went last friday.
The whole thing was pretty disorganized. The map of the galleries we had was wrong, most of the galleries were closed and most of the work was, well, forgettable. I had an exchange with a rather artsy looking fellow on the way out of one gallery. Someone in front of us said to incoming patrons, “Great wine! Great art!", to which I responded, “Great wine, bad art." Suddenly the eyeballs of several folks were on me as if I had blasphemed. One of them replied, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth." Again, unable to control myself I retorted, “I don’t see a gift horse, just a giant bull in the corner nobody wants to look at.”
Now, I am the first to say art in the eye of the beholder. But looking upon these works I was struck by the lack of respect or understanding of each chosen medium. Lots of mud, not much understanding of color. Poor quality, lots of quantity. So american, don’t you think?
There was an film installation of a guy playing air guitar to a Creed song. Why ot just learn to play guitar instead of making films about pretending to make guitar? It struck me that the main ways we react to a lot of contemporary art is either with humor, disgust or emptiness. It is interesting to me that these are the ways that we relate to the world at large. It is the age old truth that art reflects culture. We already know the state of our culture is pretty grim, so it makes sense that the art we saw that night was grim as well.
I came away sad and sort of angry. Even the modern art movements during the industrial revolution had a method to them. Pollock had a method. I am not saying that one has to be classically trained, or have a painiting degree to make good art, but I think the desire improve, to know one’s materials and the methods of applying those materials is critical to making decent art. I am learning that the hard way.