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.