Monday, November 22, 2010

Just wondering why....(quizz time)

Saturday was a “review-a-palooza” for me and still I could not hit all the shows that opened or are on display right now. Since there were errands out north, I stopped in at Akron U to see the faculty exhibit and then to Summit Arts Space to see Kaleidoscope. Both are well worth the time and effort to go see, especially the latter which is probably the best Akron area show I have seen in a long time. Summit Arts Space on Market Ave near the Akron Art Museum will be on the First Saturday Akron Art Walk in December. Might as well make a weekend of art hopping and shopping by going to Canton’s First Friday, then to Don Drumm’s Studio and then the full Artwalk on Saturday.  Don’t miss Jack Baker’s Art Glassworks in the North Hill area.  I completed my rounds by going to see a senior exhibit at Malone in the McFadden Gallery. More on that show later. 

I am not going to do a full (or even a partial) review of either of the two Akron shows because I have bigger questions to ponder. My side porch, a glass of wine and my husband allow me to work out many of my blog ideas before reaching this stage of the process. I am direct, he is a diplomat. I am blunt, he has bedside manner….so you get where I am going. He helps me say what I want to say in a dignified way. So when I came home with questions regarding the participants (as opposed to the products) in these shows, how to best frame the issue was the topic at hand. Because I may feel differently than others (world shattering newsflash there folks!) and the answers to the questions may never be known, the best way to ask them is in the form of a multiple choice quiz. (And you thought you were done with school…) I made a statement to him last night that perhaps I actually say what a lot of others are thinking but nobody really wants to say out loud, or in this case, ask.  So here it goes, 5 sample quiz questions and possible answers. You be the judge. 

  1. Why is it that many (not all!!) college art department faculty do not exhibit in or participate in “community” shows in the communities in which they work?
a.       They are too busy teaching to make enough work to enter.
b.      They are afraid (like all of us) of getting rejected and affecting their reputations as being art instructors.
c.       They feel that non-faculty level artists are not as good as they are and therefore do not want to mingle with the lesser “professionals”.
d.      Their own academic community does not encourage it so as to maintain quality control.
e.      They don’t want to be caught exhibiting in the same show as one of their students and thereby loosing the image of being better because they are the professor and thereby more professional.

  1. Why is it that realism and the skills of observational drawing and painting are not being stressed in foundation level art courses as much anymore?
a.       The instructors can’t draw themselves having come up through art programs that have veered away from the basic skills, favoring feelings instead.
b.      Digital media has overtaken the need to develop observational skills because any image can be captured at any moment and manipulated as needed.
c.       Realism is considered “basic” and boring. Something wild, crazy and creatively displayed is far superior because those who don’t get the message are just not that cultured in art.

  1. Why are titles no longer necessary?
a.       It is too much work to think of something related to the image.
b.      Labels are too confining to the idea presented.
c.       Someone (an instructor?) told them that if they can’t be clever, then be quiet.
d.      Nobody uses titles anymore, they are so old school. 

  1. Why is it that just because something is BIG, then it has to be good?
a.       Because professionals have worked out their ideas and can create larger pieces without making mistakes and wasting materials.
b.      Everybody knows that bigger is a better value and probably more important….because it is bigger.
c.       It stands a better chance of getting in a show because it is bigger…and everybody knows that blah blah blah…..
d.      Good art is big art, just visit any major city and you will see that it must be so because lots of money was spent on it and lots of money must mean it is good.

  1. If it is hanging from the ceiling in the middle of a space and….
a.       …I run into it thinking it is something under construction because it is made of construction materials, then it is performance art or in need of an apology?
b.      …it falls down, is it still art?
c.       …pretty much blocking the hallway, should anyone call the fire marshall or is that interfering with one’s rights as an artist and self expression?

Ah yes my readers, I could go on and on with such questions. But the dreaded self imposed word limit fairy has sprinkled his pixel dust on my computer keyboard so I shall quit before creating more controversy.  Oh, one last comment, to those who teach and exhibit and are actively engaged in your local community on all levels of participation, I thank you! Teaching by example is often the best lesson.


  1. One of my favorite entries (thus far). And, I DO think you often say things that other people are thinking, but for multiple reasons cannot. Always enjoy your blog!

  2. Agree on all points! I think the push for technical skills at the college and high school level fall short for because with today's "instant" imagery (digital media) we do not revere the true talent and dedication it takes to work realistically. We see "deep thinking" as only work that is overworked (or sometimes hardly any work at all), over-the-top, shock imagery.

    Continue to enjoy your comments.

  3. I'm with you! Realism/representational art is like the red-headed stepchild, easy to dismiss as unworthy of consideration.
    There is nothing rarified about making authentic art, whatever the style. But hiding behind the frenzied need to be controversial, shocking or unconventional is about as in-authentic as it gets.

    The best programs honor both vision AND skill borne of hard work and dedicated study of the craft.