Friday, December 12, 2008


So, todays subject is art. What qualifies something as art? Well, I'm not sure. Do you recognize art at first glance? Is it immediately a different breed from say, craft or design, or even scribbling? Does art always make a universal statement about the world, people, philosophy, god? An exhibit at Wayne State University (my alma mater) some many years ago titled "Anything Is Art", seemed to qualify art as anything one cared to examine. Thereby assuming that the entire universe as well as everything in it, was art, if you chose to see it as such. Ironically, the MC5 was represented in the exhibit as something quaintly significant in this regard. The primitive 8mm film by Leni Sinclair, showing a collage of footage of the band during performances, and with an accompanying soundtrack of the song "Kick Out The Jams", also the title of the film, was screened to the gallery as a performance, and received with an exhilarating ovation. So then, does that qualify it as art? Is the art the band, the film, the event, or the event in which it is being seen? Hell if I know. Maybe the real question is how to recognize art from sham. I'm sure that both art and sham come very close to overlapping into each others territory from time to time. That by being accepted, anything has an equal chance of prevailing.

I have been trying these last months to reinvent my career as an artist. My paintings are oil portraits of some of my friends from the music profession who bring a sense of "Christ-ness" to the stage. As if Christ were the ultimate performer, inspiring all sorts of ecstasy, revelation, horror, and predicament to all. That in any other time and place, might well put them on trial and be executed for their audacity, for their power to influence, for their lack of restraint, for being emboldened, for creating disorder, for being a danger to society, for their beauty. I paint their likenesses because I like their faces. As the artist, I decide how to represent them as I see them. So, in that way, what I do is my art. How to distinguish that from 22,000 other paintings on eBay that claim to be art, I do not know. For me, it is all a learning process. I don't suppose that it ever becomes a routine mechanical method. There is always something there that you didn't see the first time through. But each attempt to define your vision is a step closer to reaching the goal of being what you see. Maybe it's not a whole lot different from music.


Corn Bread said...

Good Luck! Always Original
Everything is art!
Visit my ebay store Urban Picasso Art

Steven Streight aka Vaspers said...

I subscribe to Artforum and read almost every page of it, gazing at each artwork, and asking myself: "Would this look cool as a CD cover for my music (Str8 Sounds)?" and "Does this look anybody could do it?"

Art to me is excellance, challenge, provocation, enrichment, painful introspection, horror at the evil in the world.

Art vs. Boring is one criteria.

Art vs. "Just doing it for the money and fame" Commercialism.

Art vs. Inauthenticity.

I watched a music video by Coldplay and wanted to kill myself almost, it was so unbearably stupid and bland and imitative. Zero inspiration. No ideas at all.

But when I watch a video like MC5 "Looking at You" or "American Ruse" or especially "Come Together", I feel full of joy and life!

Every autumn leaf is a painting to me from God.

Then again if a painting in Artforum looks like anybody could have slopped it out, then I take a pass on it and consider it mediocre

Art vs. Unimaginative Slop.

Art vs. Mediocrity.

Yes: Christ is the ultimate performer and his difficult sayings are there to force us to think and ponder.

Great post!