On The Nature Of Art

December 22, 2008

By James Bailey.

“A book must be an axe for the frozen sea inside of us” – Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

What distinguishes art from common place objects is its profound ability to inspire a wide variety of deep emotional responses and intellectual stimulation unique to each viewer or participant. I believe, as Kafka points out for us, that art should be a tool for personal growth through stimulation and confrontation for both creator and participant alike. Art can move us in ways everyday life cannot; art can force us to ponder questions we never knew we should be asking.

The pursuit of the artist is one of seemingly contradictory goals: to explore ideas or emotions deeply personal and specific for the purpose of personal growth through either discovery, acceptance or catharsis; while at the same time, making the result of that search widely available and, to varying degrees, open to interpretation by the outside world. In sharing works of art the author is not just revealing the result of his study but also inviting the audience to participate in their own quest, to explore the same mystery and corroborate their results with the artist’s work. A finished work of art should never be an ending but a new beginning; participants should walk away from art with more questions than answers, and perhaps a new understanding or perspective.

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom” – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Buddhists believe that ultimate freedom is nirvana, a state of being in which the self ceases to exist and truth is felt and experienced, the truth that all is one, all is the same; this truth is felt but not known, experienced but not thought. Some Buddhists would tell you that art is distraction from suffering, that art is false experience, but I believe art, in both creation and experience, is equal to meditation, a tool to achieve a state of mindfulness and the path to nirvana.

To experience the disconnect between mind and body while experiencing art, detaching even sometimes from one’s self to let the art wash over and consume your being. To lose yourself in creating your own artwork, reaching that moment when instinct and intuition takes over and active thought no longer plays a role in the process of creation, to the point that time ceases to be experienced and you look up surprised that the past few minutes you’ve been working have been hours. Art is a separate realm of experience. Art is another dimension. Art is a collective transcendental collaboration bound not to form or space or time.

Art is evolution.


Definition Of “is”

December 19, 2008

By Scott Denney

alleyPainting is. Photography is. Music is too. But then again, one could conclude that talking is and cooking is. Hell, even mixing the perfect martini is when you really think about it. I’m talking of course, about the definition of “what art is”. Everyone has an opinion. Here’s mine.

In college, I had a professor who firmly believed that filmmaking was not an art, but rather a craft. He felt that the required technical knowledge involved in filmmaking far exceeded the value of the attempt to be an artist. To him, if you didn’t understand the craft, you didn’t have a shot at creating anything approaching art in film, thus craft was king. Fair enough, but I’ve seen more than my share of technically perfect films that should never have been made. Craft alone cannot bolster a weak script, bad dialogue or pedestrian acting skills. There are so many bad films out there, that it makes me wonder if making bad films could be an art in and of itself!

On the flip side, I can’t argue that filmmaking is purely an art form either. The internet is full of great ideas that are poorly executed. As the accessibility to the tools of filmmaking and distribution become more readily available to the masses, the amount of material created grows exponentially, while the percentage of quality content dwindles. Thousands of ideas are out there. Great ideas with poor lighting, bad audio, ill-conceived shot angles and no attempt at color correction. They flood our eyes daily. There are millions of would-be artists with the inspiration to express an idea, yet with absolutely no knowledge of how to use the tools beyond powering up the camcorder. Worse yet, they have no inclination to learn the craft so that they might improve their results.

So is my definition of “what art is” purely limited to equal parts of art and craft? Not necessarily. I do not genuflect at the altar of either dogma. To me, art is actually the successful execution of intention. Its the core ingredient in anything that can legitimately be viewed as art. Anyone can slap paint on a canvas (check out your local kindergarten class), take a photograph, play an instrument and yes, even mix a martini. The difference is that most people don’t have an intention beyond (respectively) delighting their parents, capturing material for their Facebook page, looking cool or getting their friends drunk.

For someone to create art, they must be inspired by and focused on communicating their intention through their creation. To be sure, varying parts of artistry and craft will be involved, but the artist overcomes their deficiencies, in either area, in order to realize the intention of his or her message. That is what makes the artist an artist. That is what enables the artist to create what unquestionably is art.


Art Is In The Eye Of Beholder

December 17, 2008

Different Similarities

“Art Is The Eye Of The Beholder”

By Bruno Zabaglio

Let’s figure out why, at age 59, I have decide to enroll into a two years   program that will eventually award me, at age 61, a Curatorial Certificate.

Expressions such as: “It’s never too late”, or “You should do what you feel is right”, and “You must follow your dreams” come to mind.  Well, these are common expressions that could apply to anyone and any situation. The words that I feel drive me are the ones of my uncle Rino told me, in a summer evening about forty years ago: “Bruno, don’t you ever give up art.  You got something”. Are those words enough for me to embark on this new venture?  I don’t think so.  There is another reason why I believe I should: Intentional Motivation.  Robert F. Bornstein, Joseph M. Masling talk about Intentional Motivation in their book “Scoring the Rorschach” and claim that “For motivation to be scored as intentional, the action must be directed toward some future moment and subjects must be seen as, in some sense, choosing their action rather than having to react.” But before describing my motivation point I feel it’s important to tell you a little about myself.

My love affair with art began when I was a young man.  Off and on in my adult life I picked up my brushes and created some artworks that received mixed reactions from family and friends. Every time negativity or indifference bruised my artistic ego, the words of my uncle came back and boosted my confidence.  Once my children got older I felt the need to get a formal training.  My college experience at the University of Cincinnati, DAAP College, didn’t just enhance my knowledge, my creativity, and technique. Through interactions with fellow students and faculty members, my passion for all forms of art grew.  I came to appreciate the old masterpieces more deeply.  And I also became knowledgeable about the art and artists of today and began to feel a sense of excitement as a participant.

The main reason why I want to be part of the Curatorial Program is because I believe that contemporary art can be as beautiful as the one created by the old masters.  The famous expression: “Beauty is the eye of the beholder” can also refer to art.  “Art is the eye of the beholder”.  Contemporary Art sometimes gets a bad wrap because the mass population is not exposed enough to it or is correctly educated about it.  I don’t blame anyone. The uneducated viewers try their best to understand the thematic and conceptuality of modern works.  Galleries and museums make an effort to highlight contemporary artists, but they are handicapped by financial and social restrictions.

My short-term goal is to learn more how the curatorial world, how it works, and how can I contribute to the expansion of the appreciation for the fine art and artists of today as well as the old ones.

My long-term objective and wish is that one day the adjective “Starving” will not precede the noun “Artist” as in the common expression: “Starving Artist”.   I look forward to a time in the future when everyone in the artist profession will attain a renewed social status.  Artists deserve more appreciation for their creativity and contribution to society regardless how famous they are or how much we personally like their artworks.  I believe we must enhance not just their financial support but also their social recognition because, although “Art is the eye of the beholder”, is always art.