Friday, February 10, 2006

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.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Old wounds

I have some friends are are amazing at encouraging their children in the directions that their desires and talents lay. One is away at his first year of film school and the next will be visiting music business schools in the next several months. How many of you had you expressed to your parents the desire to make movies, be a professional musician or be involved in the music business would have been quickly repremanded for being ridiculous or unrealistic? I would suspect most if not all of you. Though your parents do not realize the damage done by these interactions and certainly did not intend damage, the damage is done and done most often for a lifetime. How many settle into the careers pushed by their parents promising so-called stabilty and advancement instead of a life driven by a hearts desire, gifts and talent? Again, I suspect most do. It is easier to settle, to not make waves, to feel stable and comfortable. I have seen many, many people do it.

I have been struggling this week with feeling a bit sorry for myself. Thinking back on my first (and only) year at Atlanta College of Art has brought much regret. I was never encouraged to pursue art as a child and certainly wasn’t told I was any good at it. The gift was just sort of ignored, so it makes sense that by the time I was out of high school, I was pretty uncertain about what to do. Although in my high school years I lived with my dad and stepmom and that time bred a lot of encouragement of my artisitic bent (they sent me to ACA), I still could not rid myself of the doubt and guilt of being ‘an artist’. I was fearful, unsure and although I got a scholarship and did exceptionally well, the ‘reasonable’ side of my brain (the side that snuffs out creativity) and the lack of encouragement as a child stuck to me. I could not shake it. So after my first year, I quit. It made me sad that no one encouraged me to keep going and stick it out. No one recognized that this was my call in life.

So, here I am eighteen years later still struggling with the same doubt, regretting that I did not finish my degree, strictly for the knowledge and skill I need here and now as I delve into "Jeff". All the old feelings and pain have enveloped me this week, but I do not want to give up. I do have people that believe in me and my ability as an artist, my greatest support being my husband. Overcoming those old tapes, or silences, even, is so difficult.