Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Smiling Side: James Balla at PAAM

Jim Balla wonders. And wondering leads to wonderful. And wonderful leads to art. You see it when you see him. You see it when you see his work.

What is art but a delivery system? A syringe. A pill. A rifle. A Fed Ex truck. An ice cream truck. An ice cream cone! A sun! A cloud! A wonderful, wondering, wandering cloud!

Fortune smiled on Jim Balla. He left art school and New York behind and found his way to beaches and sunsets and Provincetown. He got to watch birds and waves and clouds all the time. He got live in Provincetown! He got to live! He got to be himself. To wonder about things. To wonder his way.

Art can be a tricky business. Being an artist can be a tricky business. Art is profoundly subjective. A lot of people hate that. They like to know. They walk around knowing. They want to be the boss, the boss of art. That is one of the problems of the art world; the tough survive, and you get a lot of tough art as a result.

You would have to say that Jim Balla is not one of those people, that they never got to him, that he is that guy whistling to himself when all about him everyone is in Hell. Even in Provincetown. Even in Paradise.

As a result every summer the one artist I look forward to seeing what he has been up to, what he has been wondering about all winter, is Jim Balla. His boyish curiosity brings out the boyish curiosity in me. The irony about all of this is that this state of innocence so essential to a good life and good art is not some kind of ignorance is bliss naïveté, it is really smart. Cheshire Cat smart. Jim Balla is whistling to himself and smiling.

The world bullies you to work, but you have to be smart enough to play. Life is short. Life is a gift. Live it. Jim Balla goes into his studio and finds a way to get to that place. This is what all artists do. They may act like they are curing cancer, solving crime, feeding the world, and funnily enough they are.

Behind closed doors they are in heaven. And they bring heaven to the rest of us. And Jim Balla brings it these days on a cloud. Or at least last summer he did. I can't wait to see what wonderful delivery system he has in store for us next summer.

Addison Parks
Spring Hill

The Provincetown Art Association Museum will be opening a retrospective of James Balla on June 28, 2013

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