Sunday, June 26, 2011
My friend Art and his son Matt.
The "Arts District" has been hosting a Sunday Salon Series this year. The last Sunday of each month, a different gallery or artist talks about their work and takes the time to answer questions. I've attended most of them, and have tried to write about what I heard and saw. That pesky little thing called self-edit has left many of my thoughts in the draft folder. Until today. The discussion veered today from technique to philosophy and I said "now you're speakin' my language." You see, I'm a frustrated artist. But I'll get back to that. I love to talk philosophy and ideas, so back to the Salon:
The presenting gallery from today, The Gallery of Sea and Heaven is part of a wonderful program. Becoming Independent is an organization that helps people with disabilities by offering support, life skills and advocacy. From their web-page: The BI ArtWorks program, in particular, provides men and women opportunities to explore their own personal creativity resulting in intuitive, outsider art that receives wide recognition in the community.
I love that there's a place for people with some sort of disability to express themselves. And, without being patronizing, I love the innocence and openness often expressed by someone who is perhaps not as hung up on social standing. And, I discovered, I love the idea of intuitive art.
There was some talk about the term "outsider art" that led to a very brief discussion of what should actually be considered art. By art, in this context, I do mean the fine arts. Barbara, who leads the program shared the story of an artist with disabilities who was entered into a competition and took top honors. When it was revealed she is not a technically trained artist, many involved were very disgruntled. Suddenly, what was good enough to garner top honor, should not even be in the running, because of her lack of training, to say the least. Of course, that was a very disappointing stance.
As the discussion progressed a chord was struck with me. One woman spoke out that art is just putting marks on paper. (Essentially), she was advocating the view that art does not necessarily need training. It spoke to me because she said she hates to hear people say they are not an artist or could never be an artist. Enter me. I think I've mentioned even in this brief blog that I wish I could paint. Well...I can paint. I can pick up a brush, and I can dip it in paint and splash it across a canvas.
My frustration comes from not being able to paint what is in my mind's eye. I see beautiful landscapes; places I want to walk, and sit under trees and slip my shoes off in. I can't replicate these pictures. Since I can't paint what I see, I don't want to paint at all. Here is where I get a little jealous. I would like to be able to explore my own personal creativity using my intuition, rather than being so fixed on an image that I think I want to express. And, obviously, (I think), that idea extends to my writing. I want to produce something, hold it up, say "look what I did," and not worry about whether or not it matches my intentions, or moreover whether anyone else likes it. Then it dawns on me, (did I mention I am a late bloomer?): If I could live my whole life this way....it's just lines on paper, what freedom! If I could let go of every preconceived notion of what life should look like, then I could really appreciate what may sometimes look more like the stick figures of life as much as the lovely Pre-Raphaelite ladies. Even as I'm about to hit "publish post" and find myself resisting, still self editing, thinking I am the only person in the world who needs these words, I remember a recent conversation. A friend shared her thoughts that she thinks she should be somewhere else in her life. Her circumstances took a sharp left and she has found herself in a situation she hadn't imagined. I'm sure it doesn't match the vision she had, but it's beautiful nonetheless.
I remember getting a sneak peek at one of the shows where art from "real" artists was displayed side by side with the Becoming Independent group. A friend wondered if I could tell who did what. Some paintings were very obviously done by trained artists, others very obviously done by a client of BI, and my favorite painting of the show; I couldn't tell. Turns out, it was painted by a client. So take my words, or leave them, but by all means; look what I did.