Monday, December 03, 2007

It ends and begins with a really nice stick... (or where would you like me to put that stick for you?)

On Saturday, the Harwell show opened with my 60 paintings and this morning I found myself wondering what new work to start on first.

The reception was well attended and everyone was complimentary of the work, but it never fails that there is always at least one detractor. Now I realize that for art to grow it requires a healthy dose of the occasional constructive criticism, but sometimes I wonder if the local flavor of critical art connoisseur isn’t motivated by a touch of spite. The exhibition was arranged so that the entire top floor of the museum features the collection of hanging scrolls and folding screen painting. I hadn’t been upstairs the entire evening, as I was primarily catching conversations with patrons as they trafficked through the main floor. Near the end of the reception I finally caught a break to move to the second floor and take-in my favorite part of the show. I wandered around the second floor gallery pleased with myself and the work presented, the only other person still upstairs was a man in his fifties standing in front of a scroll with an odd look on his face. I asked if he needed help with the symbolism and he replied, “Are you Daniel?” I nodded and then went on to explain the numerology and repetitive tracks and trails through the multi-perspective landscape. After a moment he said, “well you make real interesting work”. After enough years I’ve learned that interesting is code for “I still don’t get it” or “I get it but still don’t like it”. The conversation suddenly turned to his own life-long obsession with photography and how he finally opened a studio after retiring from a drudgery life of community college administration. He was starting to fade-out as I tried to think of a way to leave and then he piped-up and said (while pointing at one of my scrolls), “I’ve tried to show here, but have never been accepted. I don’t know what the problem is, it looks to me like they’ll hang anything on the walls and call it art if they have a couple extra sticks lying around”. Then he walked-out of the gallery and down the stairs… before I could give him a good shove, I suppose, but I could’ve sworn as he walked down the stairs I heard him mumble “real interesting”, one last time.

Like I said, I’ve had similar experiences before, I recall a show in Livingston, Montana where a man and woman were attempting to read my artist’s statement and finally (with me standing behind them) the man threw-up his arms and said... “If I have to think about it that much I don’t even want to look”, at which point they both walked away.

Maybe my perspective on art and the process of creation is a bit skewed. I just can’t justify taking the time to create work without purpose. My thoughts and impressions are often inseparable, combining as one to serve as both my demon and my muse. I suppose some people just can't get past their desire for a pretty picture for the sake of a pretty picture. – DN


Leslie Pearson said...

I've experienced similar situations at my openings too...which is why I prefer to hide away in my studio instead of going. At a safe distance I can just sit back and imagine all the patrons only saying good things and "getting" my art.

JN said...

Not everyone likes what everyone else does. I guess that is the nature of life. One gent is one thing, just wait till when you get panned by a whole bunch of people. Then you will know you are in trouble. Great works are always critized by someone, that is what makes them great. They provoke conversation.