Monday, November 3, 2008

life is life

For about a month I’ve been working on a new painting. I am not sure what to think of it. Perhaps it will not be new enough for me, different enough, but I need to start somewhere after a fairly long hiatus from the last show. It feels good to be down in the basement, even if it is just a basement, on my own with loud music and broad bands of color.

But does the world need them? Fuck no. Paintings are very unnecessary. In this respect I feel oh so differently to the stance I took in the 80s. I thought art was so necessary, that art was life. But now I am more inclined to agree more with Virginia, an artist I knew back then, who recently said here that she used to think that art was life but now she thought that life was life.

And what is funny about this statement is that my life is more about art than it ever was – I make it, show it, write about it, record, video and interview it. Art. I know it best. But the sun no longer rises and sets on it in that idealistic, almost spiritual way it did when I was in my late 20s.

In a way I am bothered by this. Perhaps we expect some kind of spiritual resolution as we age. You want to believe more, not less and when that turns out to not be the case, it’s disappointing. Art was your church. But then your church became a business.

However, when I look at the paintings, especially the new one, I see that the spiritualism is there. No longer words or ideals per se, the painting itself is the artifact of all I read and I thought but no longer really consider on a day to day basis. I just paint it, that’s all. You might say it’s a practice as opposed to a doctrine.

14 comments:

namastenancy said...

I think that a lot of us, as we get older, reevaluate our early beliefs regarding making art and being an artist. If we don't, then we aren't paying attention to our life. For life goes on, whether you make art or not. Bills have to be paid, dishes washed, groceries bought - the chores that really are the foundation of life. And maybe, because we have been walking the artist's way for some time, it's more about the work and less about the talk, more about results and less about some level of unclassified feeling. I remember when all my friends were reading that book "The Artist's Way." I picked it up and thought that I'm never read such a load of bs in my life. Oh sure, there are some good pointers in the book but really, do we need to keep promoting the 19th century version of the Great Artiste who lives in a garret and produces works of misunderstood genius? What is the Zen saying? "What do you do before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water." "What do you do after enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water." I think that you could come up with a similar mantra for artists - at 20, 30, 40, 60+ - what do you do as an artist? Stretch canvas, buy the groceries, shoot the video, pay the bills, process the photographs, wash the dishes. Every thing that we do is spiritual. Mindfulness with common sense is all.

Eva said...

That's funny what you say about that book! So many people have told me to look at it and when I did I was like yadda yadda yadda....zzzzz.

namastenancy said...

Nice to know that great artists think alike. I think that our b-s o'meter is pretty astute when it comes to puff books like "The Artist's Way. " I also remember reading that she was married to somebody famous AND rich and got a huge divorce settlement. I think I would have respected the book more if it came from an artist who really had to struggle with the bills. I am sure that she's a delightful woman and thought that she was being all honest and spiritual. But, for me, it came across as one of those books written by some Marin county person with the great job (or trust fund), the fabulous house, car, you name it. Their 'droids are just not my 'droids.

Sean Casey said...

Richard Serra said that the true measure of what was art was that it had to be inherently useless. "Uselessness" was his criteria. An interesting viewpoint. The more "irrelevent" it is to the outside world, the closer it is to something true and honest, because, after all, who cares?

Stephen King wrote a book some years back about writing. In it, he concludes (I'm paraphrasing) that Art serves life, and not the other way around. Living is the first criteria. In all its messiness and disregard for theories. The art will follow when the homefront is sound.

Art doesn't change. Our viewpoint changes. They're the same paintings. It is us that morphs.

"Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters". B. Dylan

Thanks for allowing me to comment.

Anonymous said...

The art will follow when the homefront is sound.

That about sizes it up for me Sean. Sometimes it seems that people doubted me as an artist because I was so busy selling shoes. But an artist has to eat too. They don't just need art.

Eva

virginia said...

Hi Eva,

First, we both know, in some way paintings ARE neccessary if only to those that make them!

True it is as a practice (more than a doctrine or anything else) that art is spiritual, hence its abilty to heal.
And because healing is in the minority of positive events happening on this planet at this time, art is hence infused with multiple meanings and references which may in a best case scenario infuse it with the life spirit, which is one of a very few anecdotes to living in a culture that worships the material. As in Bhuddist practice, not only is the practitioner healed, all are affected in a positive sense. Partly because these practices lead to an interior freedom that is the antithseis of being a good little solidier or going to work everyday, art is not encouraged, not really. ART institutions and administrators make a nice living, while artists act as courtiers and vacume up the crumbs.

Unfortunately for us, the way things are set up now, only the most socially well placed (Harvard, Yale, NYC etc) or the most motivated of wounded healers (mea culpa) almost invisible on a global scale, are functioning.

Genius is only a matter of opportunity. The old models of ruthlessnes (Picasso) and the wealthy (Bleckner)
being the only artists qualified to be supported and functioning is old paradigm crap.

Art can only save the world if all are empowered to practice it.

Thanks for letting me share.

Eva said...

First, we both know, in some way paintings ARE neccessary if only to those that make them!

Oh yeah.

I do find though that a lot people will very willingly say that art is necessary but in very few ways do they pay for it. Anyone can go into galleries and look at art as the people who fill the galleries with it are daily making choices, a to have or have not situation. The same people who thought I should go out there, conquer the world and make art were stunned when I chose it over children. (No doubt some women do not feel this way but I frankly saw a very clear divide.) I even had one old friend who surprised that I would get a dog! Like art is all an artist needs because it is indeed so spiritually fulfilling and I'm sorry but it ain't true.

In order for it to continue to exist in my life, it almost had to make some kind of transition from church to business. It couldn't float anymore in background noize as a promise or sanctuary. I see the sanctuary (of sorts) in the actual imagery and experience of looking, but not necessarily in the mindscape which produced it.

I think your idea of "genius" is right to at least a certain degree. Some geniuses surely had opportunity. But then again, I think I've only known two geniuses and both made their own lives completely.

virginia said...

Yes, you know as this practice has become more of a business
it has been more difficult for me to keep my enthusiasm-
because
I made my own world in the arena (and yes it was an arena) of my paintings,
not because I especially thought that sounded like a groovy idea,
but because I had no place else to exist, so we do have our differences.
My choice to paint and thereby create my own world was the only interesting possibiltiy
I could see, after all else was taken from me. I am healed enough through that process to see that are are other possibilities (f----- if I know what they are!) and so through the lens of my own personal experience of several decades, I see art as a healer. I might want to do more, however I no longer feel a need to do more and so perhaps I am no longer even a real artist.
O well. I’ll take freedom and peace any day of the week, however I’d like to see the healing potential of this practice used a lot more than it is, which may transform some of the meanings of art as we know it- but thats ok (at least with me)- that and everything else are experiencing major shakedowns- why would art be any different?
So who are these amazing shamens that have managed to develop genius without financial assistance or art world connections?
Namaste,

Anonymous said...

Hey Virginia,
You know, you and I both know... at least I think you know... an artist or two who left visual art, for the most part, for healing. Both from the SF days. One in particular told me that she couldn't stand the people in the art world. She is a healer in Florida in fact.
The other, I am not sure of his path, but he is in the healing arts too. There is definitely a connection between the two, healing + arts.

The hospital up the hill from where I live (OHSU) has art all over it and formed a special committee to procure art, in the belief that art heals.

Eva

Anonymous said...

Also, as to geniuses, well, I wouldn't say they had no connections because they are both natural communicators, but they certainly had no trustfunds:

The first is Luigi, the originator of the first jazz dance technique. What an amazing man! And he was paralyzed, told he would never walk. He invented technique to heal (there's that word again) himself and against most odds, went on to dance in films with Gene Kelly. I got no problem calling him a genius. He has influenced dance forever.

The other one is Tom Robinson, who is interviewed in one of my youtube videos and is well known in photo circles here. He is extraordinary in every way and so self invented. Everyone I know calls him a genius. On the radio, he told said to me: "Well, Eva, I only have a third grade education." So I guess I can quote it here.

Eva

virginia said...

Hey Eva,
Its funny you mention a healer in Florida- I’ve felt a lot more comfortable hanging out with healers and those in the so called “esoteric community “lately than I have with artists for a while. Is your friend any where near me?
Re- art and healing- ok, yes to a degree variable with the visual sensitivities of the viewer art can heal- but what I feel and see in a very real way is that the practice needs to be, Wants to be accesable to More than only those able to access it now through privilage or sheer grit and determination. One should Not have to give up major parts of being human to be “an artist”- more over- one cannot Be fully human without experienceing “being an artist” in one way or another as a major part of life- which gets into designing a new life for a new paradigm..... I think so called “primitive” people have a lot to teach us about integrating art into life.
Yours,
Virginia

virginia said...

I know you were involved with dance and theatre in NYC- Did you study with Luigi? I think I saw the video of your other friend- will check agian later tomorrow- It is later here and I feel my age tonite my love so, namaste

Calvin Ross Carl said...

Art/creativity is at the pinnacle of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

So apparently we need it. Just less than anything else.

Eva said...

Hey CRC,

I looked at that triangle on the link and it's like there we are at the top, the creatives. Yet so many of us have not a lot of the base!

Eva