Testing Wings Brings Healing

The Semester has drawn to a close. Now being laid out with the flu I have had time to reflect further upon the contents of my last post. Well its been far too long, but quite necessary, as art is so much more difficult than science, to resolve the question regarding flying free. The more I ponder the mystery the  more it unravels like the thread of a really big carpet.  Nothing significant for a long time then when your almost back to the beginning of it all the truth is revealed to a tap yourself on the forehead, eureaka.

       The answer could have become obvious sooner if the mind was open to hear, and then allow, investigation into the comments of peers and teachers as helpful components. Listening alone is not sufficient to trigger the fireworks. Of course when my mind was finally ready to put the pieces together was the only right time.

       As I looked over the work of Isamu Noguchi recently, I thought, I have seen all this before a long time ago and its still good but so what, how does that help solve the riddle. Then I compared the variety with the “body of work” MFA ideas and there it was. The two were not the same. Noguchi was himself and I was not, which is not to say I was not he, I was not me. Ah closer to the answer, absolutely. When I was young I just fabricated whatever came to mind, bingo, freedom, but what to do with that spark now if it still exists. It is a matter of grasping all that formal knowlege and mixing it with that old clean pure know how, plus the child-like facination with this new planetary home.

      I often ask kids how long they have been on earth and without hesitation they state their age. Its like they know they are not from here and that helps to fuel the need for acclamation through exploration and creativity. This is the valuable secret missing ingredient that, added to skilled hands can really produce fuel for the journey down the path. This freedom became gestural, and thus releasing for me as I looked at a photograph of Noguchi working away at an amorphic sculpture and found myself mentally and  physically running my hands over the piece. Simpatico, yes it felt like running my hands over my work, it was altogether viceral, and design aside, triggered the “OK” to free the bird.

       Is that it, I asked myself or is there another component or two? Two perhaps, one is critical mass, as in nuclear critical mass. When so much builds up that it can not be disapated, but can only cause a chain reaction of amazing production, grab the brushes, the tools, something, and hang on. The other is the hardest of all, finish the work! This finishing aspect was a nemisis as a child. It made my parents crazy. So much was left undone but I attributed that to having completed my exploration into the matter. Now however it is more necessary to finish for finish sake, that the item may tell its whole story and perhaps be able to put up for sale. If there is another reason for not finishing besides just being a little blocked on how to proceed then thats not good for at this point it remains unknown.Meanwhile as the next few months of the final semester of my MFA go by, I stand poised with the bolt cutters on the chain.

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Does a Bird need and Ornithologist to know its a bird?

It is a strange question indeed but at a certain point in my art  it became a valid and important question. I make work most days and would like to make even more however I have begun to notice that although I wish to fly free like the bird without a second or third thought , of late it has been a real challenge. While working on my MFA with a true thirst for flying the art trail I have been bombarded with the academic idea of becoming a professional artist. Certainly its a worthy goal but as one who has been away from the art flow for a while it is marginally illusive and tends to create more of the ornithologist than the freebird. Surely the current art climate is very different from the old days yet one still has to produce but its a bit tricky where art for arts sake almost has to take a back seat to the Conceptual driver.It is therefore difficult to rise above the din without some key for firing the ornithologist or at least clipping the ball and chain off the bird. I am open to suggestions during this bumpy time. Feel free to chime in as I know it would probably help others as well.

The Gadfly

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The Influence of Your Muse

Coming to grips with your muse is easier once you understand who has whom. no matter how long you are making art in your chosen medium whether print, music, or in the visual arts there is always the force which propels. Again the main question is one of ownership. The secondary one is what does your muse drive you to say.

I know and follow the works and blogs of manywho just sit down and out comes the flow. They are indeed reckoning with the flow of the muse and basking within it.

 I have enjoyed many media in my attempts to move forward and yet there always seems to be the muse over looking the work. This  might lead one to think of a flesh and blood person but for me this is only partially true. Of course there is my almost constant need to capture the essence of the great statesman Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill whom I have come to know by reputation, books,his speeches, photographs and the paintings and sculptures created by others, as well as his own masterful command of the English language and I am thirsty for more. Yet I did not meet him but sorely wished I had. I want to get into his skin so to speak and walk around and discover how a man who suffered from  depression and other human foibles could set them aside and become all that the Western world needed  to defeat the evil that so threatened us during the last great war. Through it all he produced almost countless articles and books of enormous size. All of this to support his way of life and family. During all of that he managed to take up painting or bricklaying or massive lanscaping projects and the occasional whiskey soda and so i find him and his energy worthy of investigation. We need such a man now  and yet there are none.

Over my shoulder looking upon me constantly is the other source which pushes and although there are no photographs there are many interpretetations by artists who have sought to display their message. It is Christ I speak of. There are lots of artworks that attempt to depict the savior followed by so many and yet the only way to manage to get to know Him is in a similar way to the way we study others,  autobiography. Winston’s books about his early life fill us with the stuff we now need if the world is to produce another like him. He harnessed the English language and sent it out to fight. I have to wonder how we as artists may take our works and send them out to fight. God’s personality is available through His Word and unlike my muse Winston, through prayer. Therefore, again, who owns whom? So it is back to painting and the current bust of Churchill that hold’s my hand busy, but first a little time with my other muse.

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Crits are coming

Wow crits are coming once again. Its been a tough start this year and I hope all my fellow Artists are digging  in for the rumble. Just kidding of course. I always find it so interesting how some of the very best idea come at zero hour. I have pulled many an all nighter to hammer them into  work to put up. That life style is draining but apparently consistent so I live with it. Meanwhile I hope I can knock off a few more by the upcoming 23rd.

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Armory 2012 Volta 2012

After cruising through the shows this year I was amazed at the turnout. It seemed light and I wonder why. Perhaps I must be getting used to it. I also noticed several things from years gone by and dealers in their usual locations. I must really be getting used to it. Naturally alot of flat wall work and some sculpture of note but almost no ceramics at all. This is not the best news for alot of my work. Many of my fellow artists also work in ceramics as sculptors and potters yet there was a clear underepresentation at the armory for example. The quality of many artists work did generate the feeling that ceramic work could be there in the form of quality conceptual and wall works.  This year  I carried a catalog around the armory show and wow was it heavy. I guess VIP passes have up and down sides. On the up, relaxing in the VIP lounge and on the down , the prices . The other up, alot of great art to inspire and educate. As I was looking at so many things after so many years producing art I wonder where art is going. One of my musician friends is applying for a music grant and he asked me how arts are important. I told him to wonder what would your life be like with no arts of any kind. No art on your  walls,no TV, no fancy phones, no apps, no stereos because , no need, no music halls, no theater, no fine architecture no fancy bridges etc. So without the arts a community slowly starves to death. Math yeilds 2+2 = 4 every day but the arts yeild 2+2 = 4 today, and something different yesterday and yet something different for all of our tomorrows. We need both but the arts elevate and release a basic need in us. American Indian leather storage pouches are decorated with bead work, but why? A plain bag would store things just as well. It is a basic human need to decorate and record things as in the cave paintings. This need is so powerful that some cultures create figures to worship while others strictly forbid it. Lastly of all the persons named specifically by God in the Bible, namely the prophets, there was a man called by name to oversee the decoration of the temple. So artists have a very high calling indeed. So I ask again. Where is art going? I like to appreciate as much as I can but frankly still find some “forms” elusive. Some I outright deny, such as art that is made for shock alone without social value. Such work is like comedians who can’t get a laugh without “colorful” language. The money is in the pure comedy, just ask Chris Rock, he said just look at my house and look at Seinfeld’s house for the answer. So is the money in pure art? Look around and decide for your self.

God Bless

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Choosing a Historical metaphor for personal suffering without premeditation.

Sometimes the reason for an artist to go down a certain path during artmaking is fully straightforward, this of course given that we as humans hardly ever know our  own motivations. In reviewing my last crit with some suspicions about the real content I spoke to many and prayed alot. There is so much right in front of our faces that we can’t see the forest through the trees when it comes to the promptings of our inner muse. It is possible to rail and resist against almost anything rather than take a look in the mirror without our rose colored glasses. Quite recently I caught myself without the glasses and realized my subconscious had been tapping me for a while but I was ignoring the obvious connection between my Holocast work and my own personal suffering from automobile accidents. Now that I am awake I shall endeavor to untangle the knot between the historical from from past and the historical from the internal.

God Bless.

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What Do You See?

Innocence RippedIn a recent crit I heard feedback which suggested that my intent was not clear in this piece. Perhaps, however it is difficult at best to find the tipping point between between being too obvious and too ambiguous. Many argue that work that doesn’t allow the viewer to explore the image or symbols within the image cheats the viewer out of a personal dialog with the work. Contrary to that is the idea that we live in a time where society needs speed and instant gratification. So  wherein lays the balance? It would seem that one must consider the audience more than anything. Where will the work be displayed and just who is expected to see it, and just how close will the viewer examine it? Providing time to think about what one is viewing as one stands in front of art falls primarily upon the artist and perhaps the gallery as well. The visual hook must be sufficient to plant the viewer where he/ she stands long enough to “get it.” Given the average viewer’s short attention span it would seem logical to hit the eye of the viewer with a lot of information in bursts that keep the eye and the mind on the move, falling just short of overload. This pertains to visual work, drawing, painting and sculpture, in a different way than audio visual work where the possibility for overload is far greater in a shorter period if the clips are fast moving as they are in many films today. So why am I writing this blog today, I guess I am trying to work out the puzzel for myself by thinking out loud about the ceramic piece I have included in this post. It is of my own creation. Its heart shaped outline is approximately 24 by 28 inches in stoneware with a bronze glaze over most of it exclusive of  a white underglaze on what is for me a dove/soul symbol. Carved into the area near the neck was a very visible Star of David which I allowed the glaze to partially obscure in order to avoid being too obvious. Perhaps I covered it too much, perhaps not. It depends upon who is looking and how high up the “art food chain” they might be. The higher up the chain the further away from the the average viewer’s art education which may be minimal at best. When I was in a writing class in college I was told that I should learn to write to a wider audience and then I was shown a copy of the local Newsday paper. Here the teacher said is the goal so you need to be less sophisticated. Of course the paper is written to an 8th grade level and there is a comparison in the making. Does one make art to an 8th grade level or does one go for the highest? I think you have to go all the way if you want to hook the big art fish some day. You do however have to eat, so making art “cookies” for sale is still perhaps a good idea. So where is the balance between being too overt and too simplistic, I am still not exactly settled but writing this has brought me closer to the key. Just in case minimalism popped into anyones head, let it float away because it is anything but simplistic. That is another topic for another time. If any one would like to ring in on these thoughts please chime away.

God Bless

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