Sometimes (as now) a blog is a good place to gripe. Imagine me on the other side of your fence. You ask me how I’m doing, so I decide to give you an earful. (Nice weather we’re having, though.)
Yesterday I saw a spread in a North Carolina newspaper (I’m still here, but should be getting home soon I hope). Anyway, it was a whole page devoted to art events. It consisted almost entirely of photographs. One particularly caught my attention, and if it didn’t bring out the nicest side of my personality — well, perhaps I can be forgiven.
A fashionably dressed young man was posed sitting in a wingback chair. Behind him stood his even more elegantly dressed and very attractive wife. The two were pictured inside the premises of what the paper said was a “cutting edge” gallery in town. And to one side, one could partly make out portions of the young man’s “art.”
My first thought was “congratulations to him for what must obviously be some exceptional marketing skills.” My second less kind thought bubble was: “too bad he can’t paint worth a damn.”
It grates on my nerves (might as well be honest over here at the fence) that I feel an unseemly bit of disgust at a young artist-in-quotes getting this kind of attention when quite clearly (to me at least) his “work” doesn’t merit it. Work. Geeze. It was the old cliche of “I could do that” and then some. Anyone could do what he does. Take heart all ye beginners! That’s assuming his “work” has anything in it worth emulating.
Few of us get our pictures in the papers. (Didn’t I just moments ago say artists are shy?) I’ve been in the newspaper once, but in my case, thank goodness, I actually had to compete with my painting for attention. We were posed together like sisters. But even then, it was the subject matter of my painting that got the attention not the art of my painting. I’m still waiting on the art thing … I’ll let you guys be the first to know when my ideas are getting the publicity.
So, why does one feel a grudge? Sour grapes? I don’t think so. It bugs me not because the young man is doing well. It bugs me that he is doing well when so many more deserving artists are being ignored. It bugs me his not having to pay any dues. More than that — it bugs me that he evidently has no interest in the dues. I would never have consented to have myself and my painting prominently displayed in a newspaper if my paintings looked like his. Sometimes it is meet to be demure.
The whole point of art is the art. The artist is the first and chief beneficiary of that, let’s be honest. What you learn in looking at the world, what you learn in making the true attempt to record life (regardless what your level of ability), what you get from the act of seeing and drawing, all those things become products of your mind, parts of your soul. They compose the memories you will carry around with you in life. They are hardly trivial!
But what, I ask you, is the point of anyone’s striving when the trivial attempts are trumpeted abroad?
Well, what you see is what you get. Quite literally. Though the papers be filled with the cheap and easy products of fake effort, no one who really loves art should ever lose heart. What you see is what you get. And the seeing of it — that’s life — that’s the living of it. In art you can live ideas.
Art is not for the faint of heart. If it matters to you, go blindly down the road. Just do it. (Not like a shoe commercial, but for real.)
Meanwhile, here at the fence, do you think we’re likely to get any rain?
Second Resume Bullet: I griped to my neighbor and drew a picture of an annoyed cat.