Sunday, May 27, 2012


David Burliuk(1951); oil & collage on canvas, 6" x 8"; w/ Burliuk frame
Art is subjective, that much seems pretty clear. But... apparently it isn't. You always get a lot of "yes...but." So recently I changed my mind. I don't say art is subjective anymore. Recently I've taken to saying that art is only subjective.

I have to say that this meets with even greater resistance. Yes, greater force produces greater resistance. I'm a dad of teenagers, so I understand. I was a teacher for more years than I care to remember, so I get it. But what I've learned is that resistance has to be met with greater force if there is going to be any movement, any breakthrough. That art is only subjective is obvious. That there are boatloads of people who think otherwise, who think that they somehow know better, is just plain arrogance. Neurosis. We all get to think we know better, right? We all get to believe that we have the wherewithal to judge art objectively. Which is just another way of making my point. Individually we get to decide what is art, what is great art, what is bad, etc. Subjectivity. Nothing but. Definition of...etc.

Which is great. Art is only subjective. The power to club other people with objective judgment is within everyone's grasp, but it is stupid. Like teenagers giving whatever the thumbs up or the thumbs down. The fact that grown people, so called experts, etc, want to behave this way is nothing more than ego, adolescent ego. Which isn't really fair of course, since adolescents aren't nearly so bad. We just know that they are exercising their egos in new ways, and opinions as fact are new found power in a world that gives them no power at all.


So there you have it. Art is only subjective. It is a gift. Enjoy it. Don't hate me for saying this. Sure we wish it was different. We wish that art could be properly measured. But we're wrong. The beauty of art is that it is subjective. Try it. Go with it. Subjectivity is a beautiful thing. We are alone. We experience things alone, even in the movie theater. Our heads are our own. Our minds are our own. Yes, we share. Sharing is also a beautiful thing. We can even agree. Many of us can even agree. Many of us who are devoted, experienced, enlightened can even agree. But that is all we are doing. That is not objectivity. That is just people agreeing. Let it go. We all still agree as individuals. Subjectivity is not as powerless as it seems.  If artists can play God making something of nothing, well then the rest of us can play God sitting in judgment. Sure. We can do that all we like. Thumbs up, thumbs down. Just one word of caution however; if you are busy judging, then you are missing out. We judge from a safe distance. Art is a dish better eaten with your hands than judged from behind glass. Dive in! Chow down! Or savor each morsel. It is whatever you make it, so make it. In the end we might do the thumbs up and thumbs down, but this would still be just our subjective opinion, no matter how well considered. Art is only subjective.

Addison Parks

Spring Hill

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Permit yourself!

Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Easel and Japanese Print, January 1889, Oil on canvas, 60 × 49 cm., Courtauld Institute Galleries, London (F527)
Sometimes the results are the same; sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. The fine line. The difference between being taught to fish and being given fish. You get fish.

Permission is the same. You can give someone permission, or you can encourage them to permit themselves, to give themselves permission (teaching in so many ways is nothing more than encouragement: helping someone to risk falling down to ride a bike, to brave water to swim, to persevere and be patient to fish).

Permission is key. Permission is power; permission is power over oneself AND power over others. If you can give yourself permission in this life, you don't need it from others, and others can't stop you from doing what you dream to do, need to do, believe in doing.

A person who gives themselves permission and doesn't need it from others is a powerful and even dangerous person.

But you can only do this for yourself, that has to be understood. No one can or will do it for you. Artists have to give themselves permission: to themselves! And then anything is possible.

It goes without saying that one has to accept the consequences; power means responsibility.

Everyone will be an obstacle and will try to stop you, divert you, exploit you, undermine you, crush you, discredit you, ignore you, ridicule you, break you down, turn others against you, withhold support, steal your faith, steal your confidence, steal your well-being, steal your sense of self, steal your mission away from you. They will stop at nothing to wrest permission away from you.

You can't feel sorry for yourself about this. Do something about it. Life isn't fair. It is what it is. Don't expect support for doing what you want to do, especially from people who aren't doing what they want to do. I think what we are talking about here is freedom. It comes at a price.

As an artist permission is all you need. Permission from yourself. You have to pay for it. It is up to you! Pay the price. Give yourself permission! Take it back from those who would try to steal it from you! It is your lunch money. If you are going to survive and flourish you need it!

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Location:Spring Hill