Saturday, October 01, 2011

Appreciation War and Peace

I've said this before: art is the appreciation business. I said it to make a point; that art is all about appreciation, from beginning to end. It is a circle of appreciation. It just goes round and round. The artist makes art as a result of what they appreciate; the viewer appreciates the art, and by doing so appreciates what the artist appreciated, and that appreciation reinforces that appreciated thing, which causes the artist to appreciate it again and so forth!

These days, however, appreciation is in short supply. It is not just that there is not much of it to go around, it seems that the very idea and existence of it are under attack!

I haven't been here long. Just 58 years. So I'm just figuring some things out. Appreciation is in grave danger. Like climate change it threatens our very way of life.

You don't have to look far or hard to see the signs. Never mind that art is off our cultural radar. Look at Congress. Record low approval! And nobody gets along! Democrats and Republicans don't only not appreciate each other, they don't appreciate their own parties! We seem to be threatened with an ice age, a dark age, an appreciation funk!

Yesterday the guy that brought the Red Sox their only two World Series in the last hundred years was let go because they missed the playoffs on the last day of the season--with a nasty bit of help from the Yankees I might add. What do you get when appreciation goes out the window? You guessed it!

I recently read an article on Rimbaud in the New Yorker. By the end of it the author revealed that he wasn't really a fan! He really just enjoyed tweaking the legions of Rimbaud lovers haunted by the question of Rimbaud's self-imposed exile from literature! He liked rubbing salt in the wound!

But the author really missed the whole point! It didn't matter that Rimbaud bailed. It didn't change anything! It is the work that mattered! You wouldn't have that question of repudiation if you didn't have the amazing poetry in the first place! AND! You still have that! Rimbaud's contribution to poetry isn't going anywhere. This New Yorker author not only doesn't appreciate this most obvious and important fact, clearly they are the on who is haunted because they will never be the recipient of that kind or level of appreciation!

People who feel unappreciated often seem to turn to un-appreciation as an answer. They start appreciating things less as they feel less appreciated when more is what would save then! The more you have to appreciate in life would seem to be the obvious path to happiness!

Being unappreciated is what makes people mean.

I'm close to an individual who struggles as an artist. The art world is not giving them a parade. But they somehow manage to scrape up enough appreciation for what they do despite the overwhelming lack of it from the outside world.

Artists who keep working are like that. They like what they do! That is not just really important, it is insanely critical! Critical doesn't even begin to describe just how important that is! Insane might! Because you just might be a little crazy to care so much about something no one else cares about!

I am close to another artist who can't muster up quite enough appreciation for what they do, and I couldn't figure out why, because from where I stand their work really has it going on!

What I discovered was that this person had never had someone in their life that they could count on to appreciate what they did. Which meant that when they faltered, they didn't have enough of that insane appreciation to pick them up when no one else would! I also discovered that this person had a person in their life that was the opposite of that, someone who kept poking a hole in their tire, making sure that it was always flat. A parent no less! A permanent fixture in their life! A person who could with a single phone call could slash all 4 tires!

Having no built-in support is one thing, having built-in opposition is quite another!

Rimbaud didn't get support from his mother, and his father had long before abandoned him. Baudelaire's father cut him off when he quit law to become a poet. The appreciation thing is strange.

Different people need different amounts to get by. Different people need different amounts to flourish! A little can go a long way for some, while others need vast amounts just to get through the day! Still some can hoard enough for themselves, and don't need to go out there looking for it. A few don't seem to need any at all! Sounds a lot like a drug!

I know someone else who went back to school to get it, essentially paying for it, and now they are back out and forced to ween themselves off of it. But they are setting up a new studio and feel better! Sounds a lot like love!

Like I said, I've only been here a short while! I don't quite get it. I realize that I am very lucky and have that built-in supply/support system: children, the family; but they are all teenagers or older now and I am at risk.

As an artist you need to keep yourself pumped up enough to keep working. Whatever it takes! I know my brother and I spent our lives proving my dad wrong, so as an artist sometimes that can work. Maybe we were really trying to earn some appreciation, at least that is what it felt like. Still, neither one of us has made a painting since he died. We never did get that appreciation.

It is worth mentioning that as I write this I have just received a letter from my brother telling me that he has set up a new studio by the water where he can see boats, and that he has just started painting again and feels better. It is also worth mentioning that recently I have been making sculpture, my first love, and am also setting up a new studio, and also feel better! Both of us in the last few weeks three thousand miles apart!

Some times it feels like you're trying to blow up a balloon with a big hole in it, other times it just seems like the sun comes out and your balloon simply soars! it might take forever to explain how to protect our balloon from puncture, and then we still get blind-sided. Still, we all get better at this. We have to!

To me it is something like climate change, we're all going to live or die depending on whether we get this right. It starts with each one of us! What goes around just might come around after all! Being an art lover always seemed to me to go hand in hand with being an artist! I still believe this! How could it be any other way?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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