Friday, August 28, 2015

Same

Is it me or the area we now inhabit or maybe the times we live in?
Now that cities and towns and even lil' villages are more homogenized, that is, infected with the same American box stores and rubber stamp "restaurants", it seems that the art I see becomes more mediocre by the day.
I wonder if this is one reason that the art market is doing so poorly: more and more, everything looks the same. After experiencing the shock value art that was prominent thirty five/forty years ago and then the pink hair and punks that followed it, I found real drama (meaningful content optional). Of course this was preceded by works that needed large warehouses in order to be seen…. and earlier yet, Andy's (et al) sarcastic contribution of Pop imagery-what went wrong? Where have we gone? Or , more to the point, not gone?
Like the cliche that history is doomed to repeat itself, it seems to me little was learned. Or maybe the LCD factor has a stronger hold: "art should be about making nice pictures, about making us laugh….and about happier times (even if we we never experienced this brand of nostalgia).
The majority of what I see out there are artists who have long ago stopped challenging themselves and joined the ranks of the Sunday painter, copying themselves (or others) ad nausea.
Born a pessimist, I expect few miracles from an art community that purports to be on the beam of the contemporary ("Western" painters excepted). But when I look for a pulse and feel nothing, I think it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Frustration

So, with age comes knowledge-or more knowledge, so it's said. This thought occurred to me as I cracked open "Anna Karenina" for the second time in my life. Remembering far back when I tried the book in my twenties, it now seems far clearer, far more interesting than what I remember.
What brought me to the book (for the second time) was reading the list of books a favored author of mine stated as being quite influential. Using the list, I knocked off Eliot's "Middlemarch" (loved that huge thought-filled tome), Stegner's "Angle of Repose", Dicken's "Bleak House" earlier in the year. I'd read "War and Peace" centuries ago (almost in a beer-bet, just to see if I could do it) and got very little out of it-and very little of it remains with me.
Anyhow, we get to a certain point in our lives and things just seem to be clearer, our understanding growing exponentially. This is true for me with my artworking as well. I'm facile, truly capable of "feeling" whether a work has merit ( not trying to be pretentious here, but feel as if my intuition and taste is genuinely sharp) and able to plunge more deeply into the work. Finally, I "understand" painting ( I'll leave anyone who is reading this to gauge just what that means on their own) -a claim which I could never make some years back.
So here's my question: are other people born with better understanding of these things so that they do not need to claw their way up the long ladder of understanding? I'm old at this point, yet here I am with vast new chapters opening up for me. It took me so long to get to this "learned" place-so is the point of life (uh-oh, time for all those not ready for this headiness to back off) to achieve this pinnacle and then croak? Seems damn unfair that now (I said this a moment ago) all these new pathways are opening up for me. Sure, I've heard that the journey is the thing, but after all these years I'm just knocking at the door and, painfully, I know of the huge possibilities beyond, yet I'm starting to stumble from exhaustion -a "life well-lived".
So is the point to just climb up (or not) from whatever intellectual level we are born with? Acknowledging that I'm standing on tall shoulders, isn't there some sort of boatman/Charon we can pay off so we can more quickly get to the meat of the matter and use our life's energy to go beyond the "mere mortals" span and be able to plunge into the riches behind the doors?



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Heaven

Having four dogs here (two are "borrowed") is the best thing I've ever  known, even tho' these guys get underfoot (not easily moveable at 60, 65, 85 and 90 pounds) and having something to eat always means having to contend with begging (course, I trained them well in this regard). Having them in the shop as companions is also terrific, even though their commentary on my work is usually nil-or at least not at all audible. We will lose Zeke soon, as his owner will return after a two month absence. Rojo has not been around too much lately, either. But i chalk that up to the boiling temperature we've experienced lately.
Thought we might be taking in another dog while we stayed in Taos, finding this black female silky-haired job playing dodge-ems with the cars and trucks on highway 68. Took her home, overnighted her  (a night spent trying to sleep in my van to avoid her barking all night long) and found her owner the next day.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another stunning, brilliant observation

Lately, I seem to be at odds with people I care about or thought I cared about. Perhaps this latest revelation, spoken of here, is because my sis, Ruth, seems to be fading away. After 90+ years on this earth and many, many years of daily correspondence, I feel as though I'm losing her…we are separated by almost 2,000 miles, so I do not have the full picture. Recent letters from her indicate failing health. This has been tough and the loss, along with other relatively recent losses are hitting me hard.
But this is more about the distant past. I had a friend-or at least she claimed to be and that we were the friends who knew each other the longest…we used to breakfast together or meet and sit and talk. But my recollection of theses meetings was always clouded by this: she was so often distracted by everything around us as well as phone calls, etc. that I might as well have been a part of the scenery. I never took her to task on this,  which is very much my failing, but my anger about this still rises. Many, many years later. We are no longer in communication, partially because of my inability (up to this point) to express this anger.
I'm glad to have learned this lesson late rather than not at all. Enough said: I wanted to put this out there if only to satisfy myself and also to know that -for better or worse- I've changed immensely.

the skinny

It's a matter of keeping the nose to the old grindstone when it comes to painting. This may be SO obvious to others, but I'm just learning it. Somehow, I thought one could sneak by with what worked in sculpture, so why not with painting?
Not so. I've recently"learned" how to get myself in a sort of trance state (or at least some other sort of concentrative place) in order to paint (or paint the way I see fit), but this isn't enough. The knowledge that comes with repetition still lacks here. I feel as though I'm close-really close to where I want to be, but each work is still a hit and miss proposition.
In speaking of wanting to get past this chancy "state", there's also a notion that this-right here right now-is where any artist needs to be. In a place of doubt, unsureness. So the fact that the hand does not perfectly correspond with the brain, even if this is a transient state, may be the answer. This is a place lacking in perfection, but filled with raw intent...