Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Art Geek

Confessions of an Art Geek 

At MOCA LA forUrs Fischer exhibit.  (Larry Transformer).

Arles, France (night Cafe)

I have drawn all my life. But it was in high school that I gained a enthusiasm for art. I had a teacher named Ed Shipp. Ship was a painter, but he presented numerous examples of what art could be to the class. He was friends with Merrill Mahaffee (Who would later be one of my instructors in college) and would at times bring in some of his early works to class. After my junior year Shipp went on to a professorship at ASU. Shipp’s enthusiasm for art was contagious. The Artist David Kessler was in one of my art classes.

At Phoenix Collge in the 1960s students were pretty much left alone by the teachers. I spent my time in class often sitting in the back talking to guys who would go on to be in the TUBES and work in sessions in LA. After leaving college I went to work at a sign company and playing in Rock bands. I didn’t pursue art but kept sketch books continuing to draw. I quit performing in bands and in the early 1980s decided to start painting and exhibiting. I would go to Thursday art openings in Scottsdale. At that time there were several galleries there that exhibited local talent and it was my desire to be in the stable of one of these. At his opening at Elaine Horwitch Gallery I told David Kessler of this desire. His advice was, "it’s better not to be with a gallery than be in the wrong kind", advice I still ponder.
 I would expose myself to all kinds of art. I subscribed to Art News Magazine to see what was going on in the wider world.  When I visit a city I try to make sure to visit there art museum. I like to buy art related things at museum gift  shops. I also love to visit sights where my artist heros lived & worked, like Arles, Giverny and Montmartre in France, Aabaque and Taos in New Mexico, etc.

That brings me to Abstraction. I’m not saying I don’t like abstract art. All art appreciation is subjective. Abstract art is the most subjective. Art historian Sir Kenneth Clark said of abstract art, “Somewhat monotonous, somewhat prone to charlatanism, but genuinely expressive of our time. The thing with the original Abstract expressionists, such as Pollack and De Kooning is, THEY COULD DRAW. With abstract painting innovation is important. Sometimes I think some abstract artist, Who can’t draw look at a Pollack and say “I could do that” and try. I used to not be that impressed with Mark Rothkow until I recently saw a room full of his work at the LA county Museum. The guy was a neighboring friend to color.

Rothkow Room at LACAM 
(Click Images to see bigger.)

 Another problem I have with abstract art is it seems to have become the choice of Decorators. Too much of it is like what you see on the walls of hotels. That’s fine, but is it exciting? It seems to just be visual background noise. In my own work I strive for a balance between Realism and abstract flatness.

Then there is conceptual art. I like some conceptual art. Problem is with so much conceptual art there is no real skill. Too much laziness. All concept and no skill is lame. It’s amazing that people fall for it and pay big bucks for crap.
Painter John Dawson said in his book, “The Question I’m not interested in is the sophomoric “what is art”* question. Cutting edge art, which by definition should have been here and gone, has been around longer than impressionism, still asking, it seems, that same tired question.  Not that I really mind seeing yet another pile of rocks, or tanks of water with some kind of reflection in it, in contemporary art museums from coast to coast, or my personal favorite the cube, a stone cube, or a wood cube, or a ceramic cube with the obligatory sign that says “don’t sit on the sculpture.” It’s not that I don’t consider it art or even whether it is good art or bad art, it’s that I find it - what is the right culturally acceptable word for it, oh yea - BORING.”

A conceptional artist I consider good is Urs Fischer.

So in the end, while I totally enjoy going and looking at art, I have over time become more discriminating

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