Thursday, December 20, 2007

the hunger

A friend of mine has been working more in teaching, involved with her art peers, a longtime dream. She told me, however, that she finds herself editing her life more and more. She mentioned selling shoes to someone the other day and they looked at her with a very measured skipped beat, as though she was divulging her leprosy.

Odd too, because at least in theory, we are often poised to take an interest in social issues, in the working class and even life of the streets - there's a great respect for art about life's dirty experiences. Just don't have any! Or if you do, don't talk about it. I know a little bit about this - when I told people how I was a maid at Portland's very own Hilton Hotel, you could almost feel the squirm. Yeah, that's right, cleaning 16 toilets a day. Imagine artists doing that.

Since my friend has had some times at the school of hard knocks, she's not all that interested in making art about them. No need to go there for street cred, that’s for sure. The elevated vision, a heroic vision, a pitch for beauty - is one that she fought tooth and nail for, just to get a glimpse at.

- Not to say that she’s not concerned about hunger, jail, suicide, domestic violence, alcohol abuse; maybe indeed a little too familiar. So much so that some of the trafficking in said territory by her art peers often looks a lot like, well, tourists. They did not grow up with it. It’s not a part of their interior view.

That still doesn’t bug her, as long as they don’t put their let’s-starve adoption on her or judge her work by that particular hunger. Some actually see fluff in beauty, can you believe that? In her case, the surface has a complex substance. Perhaps they believe it is predictable somehow, or a white man’s game. Wrong. It is possibly the game of those who did not grow up with food in the house.

I’m not saying that those of us who grew up hungry will never make art about it. But I do think it’s no accident that we like champagne (not PBR) and want to make beautiful things.

9 comments:

Duane said...

A primary reason for my ossession with art is that my father had no interest in art and culture, he also had no interest in me. I truly hated the man and wanted to avoid being anything like him. Fortunately my mother encouraged my artistic side and fought hard to see I had good opportunities for exposure to the arts.

Mother manage to get my father to pay for arts summer camps during high school. That's where I met Jackie West, who years later started the Graystone Gallery on Hawthorne. She sold me on collecting art in the early 80's and I was hooked.

The fact that I was stuck in a mundane production job in an optical wholesale lab motivated me to look for meaning in my exsistance outside of work. So here I am 25 years later acting the part of an esthetic evangilist, trying to carry to message to the public any way I can.

I'm still at the lab and still bored out of my mind every minute I spend there. But then, that's what makes living with art and hanging out in galleries so fulfilling.

Also, I love owning and living with beautiful object that hold special meaning for me. I admire all that American expressionist WPA stuff, but I don't choose to live with it. When I'm home, I don't want to be reminded about work. My working life is so ugly, I just want to come home to beauty.

All this because I hated my father, how bout that.

Iggi Art said...

Wow! your artwork it´s amazing. so intense, creative and surreal (sorry my english) i´m chilean illustrator, and my work is on black and white. If you have time, please visit my own site on...

www.iggiart.blogspot.com

I wait your comments.

Steven LaRose said...

iggi gets around

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting Duane.

Your comments (as well as my pal's story) confirm for me that we like what we like for a myriad of complex reasons - "taste," an idea of what is good and bad in art, is not just formed through verdicts from an authority. It is formed from childhood onward and also through class experiences.

E

(And yes, Steven, that iggi gets around. I feel so special!)

m. said...

i think range and depth give one great power in pursuing any artistic endeavor, and though i'm not much for the support of the idea that artists must suffer for their art, on the other hand, sometimes there aren't a great deal of choices as to how one is to obtain range and depth in certain areas of the human experience...

certainly the tourists prove that it can't be got second-hand. but perhaps that is not so much a problem of whether they really need to 'get' it or not or whether they are just trying to cash in on a current trend...

whatever the case, i wouldn't trade a moment of my experience in this life, but the question of how best to put it all to use is well posed here in the original post...

i suppose i do get confused at times, but in the end, clarity of vision seems to win out...

i don't know if you'd call it inspiration or my muse or what, but it seems to do the picking for me, and in picking, it does tend towards beauty...

for whatever that chiming in is worth...

Anonymous said...

hey m - but do the tourists really prove that it can't be obtained second-hand? I ask this because some of them seem quite successful to me, while those who have it first hand can be dismissed.

Those who have it first hand may not have the money to fabricate it, make it slick and acceptable. They might not have the means (or the inclination!) to take that poll that gets "the community" involved. I could think of many examples...

Hope you are having good holidays...

E

m. said...

i guess it depends on how you define 'getting' it...they don't fool you, do they? i think what you're talking about getting is more what i was alluding to as cashing in on a current trend...a scenario where understanding the topic at hand might not actually be one of the tourist's actual goals...

as for the other idea, i do sometimes think that imagination can only go so far in certain areas and depending on the person...which leaves experience as the only teacher for some human scenarios...not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...or even true...just musing...

anyway, happy holidays back atcha!!

Anonymous said...

To a certain degree, experience can be bought. Let's say you want to make a statement about birthing babies in a mental ward but it is something you will never ever have to consider in your lifetime. If you have the means, you can interview, you can video, you can paint it, photograph it, schmooze it, and after all your education, write a very clever artist statement around it, present it to the right people, get a grant and great reviews and you're a hero. After all, you don't make art about yourself or some elitist vision.

;)

E

m. said...

sorry for being so late back to the 'game,', E...

i can't tell if you're kidding or not...but i'm thinking at some point, where it really counts, the serious art is all about you and your vision, elitist or no.

doesn't have to be overt...but there YOU are, nonetheless, vision carefully cupped in hand...and this is also the point at which where the tourists fall flat despite their level of due diligence...

for me, anyway...

i am also intrigued by this notion of an elitist vision. ..true visionaries would never think of themselves as elitists...it's only the dregs and hangers on of these types of transcendent philosophies who dangle enlightenment like a carrot and themselves as the ultimate authority on the carrot...true visionaries take one part of the way and then tell the traveler to look within oneself for the rest of the answer...

great art also requires this kind of a relationship...without the viewer it's just an object on the wall...or a pedestal...or, well, you get the drift...