Friday, March 22, 2013

Art Blog: Young Artist / Old Artist

These days, I am surrounded by young artists. Some are very young. Once again, I am teaching college age students. Some of them have unbelievable talent and untapped skill. Also, they are full of wonder and enthusiasm. They are like sponges wanting to know who, how, what, why, and when as it pertains to anything ART. Sometimes, I will be looking at their young faces as I show them an artist's work or a new technique. Their reactions are so fresh and full of excitement. I remember when I was like that.

It isn't that art has become mundane or uninteresting for me. I think my flames of creative desire have burned down to sparkling embers which continue to glow. I will admit it takes something special to make the burn jump and spark into fire. On a recent trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, there was a little flash.

As I walked gallery to gallery, I started realizing that I have seen tens of thousands of works of art in my life. Between artist's studios, galleries, and museums, the number of works I have viewed could never be counted. I started thinking about getting older and how my taste and interests in art have changed over time. Like most artists, I have my own art history that is reflected with each decade.

When I was in high school, I would pour over encyclopedic, art history books. You know the kind. I would peruse pulp, art history volumes which summed up art history in 200 pages. I teethed my way through antiquities to modern art. I remember being in love with the Impressionists. I especially loved Renoir. Those puffy soft brush strokes and rosy colors fit in with my romanticized vision of being an artist.

My first years in college, I became interested in all things Monet. His use of color and concern for light were fascinating to me. I would look at works like his haystacks and Rouen Cathedral for hours. I understood what it was like to view the works of a master.

In later college days, conceptual and minimal art was all the rage. It wasn't for me. I found myself going to the Detroit Institute of arts and hanging around with the primitives. The raw energy and pureness of intent was so real to me. This art was human and emotive. Maybe this interest came as a backlash to the cerebral art of the '70s. I wanted to see the "hand of the artist" (not a formula or work by assistants). To this day, all primitive art speaks to me.

As I turned the corner at the museum, this tiny piece caught my eye and brought a smile. It brought back a sweet memory. Years ago, I was in an artist's NY studio. He had a piece by some artist from the Ashcan School hanging over his bed. I can't remember whose work it was, but I remember staring at this piece and asking him about it. He said it was an original and it had been a gift. After seeing that piece, I became enthralled with all art ashcan.


In recent years, my interest in raw, human art has transformed into loving naive and outsider art. Actually, this interest dates back to the same time I loved Monet. My professor at the time, David Barr, turned me onto both genres of art history. To this day, I excitedly flip the pages of Raw Visions Magazine. It was there, I was introduced to the work of Mary Proctor. When I saw this piece at the museum I was reminded that excitement for art was still there in my heart.

There is a yin/yang to whether you are a young, enthusiastic artist or seasoned creator. Those days of bright eyes are wonderful. However when you are able to count your art years, it is joyous too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Art Blog: Just get it DONE

Every artist knows what it is like to be alone. I mean really alone. Studio time is solitary. We can go hours and days without speaking to anyone as we hunch over our potentially brilliant creations. During these times, it is easy to get inside our own heads. The tape is running constantly. Not only are we thinking about what color to use next or whether to use wood or canvas, we also let our minds drift into the areas of what will be the response to this work? How will it be received? Will this piece lead to the next or will it be a onetime wonder? What? Why? How? Where? When?

Blah, blah, blah. Shhhhhh.... There are times when you want your mind to just STOP! This is why I like this Warhol quote so much. I can hear Andy's squeaky voice mouthing the words. "Just get it done!" "Let other's decide..." In other words, we are not in it at that point. Our work as artists is about making the art. Once it is done, our job is to make more. Let the art go out into the Universe and others can take it or leave it. It isn't about us anymore.

Yesterday, I was browsing Facebook and Karen Keimig Warner put up a link to an artist, Daniel Essig. He is a sculptor and maker of handmade books. I went to the link and I was blown away. His work is pure beauty. As I shuffled through all the photos in his portfolio, I was taken aback. The work is raw, natural, and amazing. The thought came to me that some of this work is not for everyone. I mean, unless you have a certain kind of art "eye", you might think some of this work is wonky or weird. Obviously, Daniel doesn't care about that kind of judgment. He just keeps making art. HIS ART. As artists we are alone in the studio, but thankfully we are still connected to each other via the internet and community. We need to embrace each other and share our commonalities. We should cheer each other on because we know what we do is good and right.
So just get it done.

Seeing this handmade book sculpture took my breath away.
"While they are deciding, make even more art!" says Mr. Warhol.
It looks like this is what Daniel Essig does.
Bravo to him!!
Click photo to see more of Mr. Essig's wonderful works.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Art Blog: Is your ART relevant?

I think one of the reasons I am sinking my soul into my day job is because I have come to a point in which all my art efforts have become inert. I spent the last year making, hawking, and marketing until the point I am almost blue. No deals. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

I have dealt with rejection for over 40 years, but this is ridiculous. In fact, this doesn't even resemble rejection. What I am experiencing is total indifference. This is worse! I started thinking about the idea of the contemporary relevance of my work. I could stand before you while showing any one of my series and could spiel out the relevance and tell you why my work is current and important. The problem is that isn't really possible. My work is here. You are there. Also, I don't really believe in explaining anything.

I have spoken about MARGARET a number of times. She is 82 years old (83 next week). She is like my imaginary mentor. I look to her and her videos and think "I want to be like her in twenty years!". She just got back from India after spending time with the Siddis quilters. She learned the techniques and has produced a body of work. Now, she is trying to market them or at least find a venue to show the work. She hasn't had great response yet and she tells of her frustration in this video. I totally "get it". I too am amazed at the idea of non-response. It rocks you to the core of your being.

I agree with Margaret (atree3). There is a moat or a bridge (?) between the making of the art and the marketing of the art. Like Margaret, I love the process of the making. I love the alone time. I love the quiet. However, the marketing part is like the Tower of Babel to me. There is all kinds of chitter, chatter, and noise, followed by a deafening silence. This is OK though. I know Margaret's work is incredible. I know what I do is right and true. We are both on one side of the BRIDGE.
Come join us.

Click on photo to hear some atree3 brilliance!