Thursday, September 28, 2006

Guilty As Charged!

Politicians forget that they are pubic servants. Service people forget that they are there to help. Teachers forget that they are charged with the care of young people's dreams(as a father of four I am only TOO aware of this). The power goes to their heads. They like being in charge; not being charged with a responsibility. The destruction these people cause can be devastating.

I had mostly lousy teachers(and I was a lousy student, thank goodness, because we moved a lot and I fell through the cracks, and to a large extent remained unschooled). We were stuck in school; they were stuck in jobs. There were times that I taught because I needed a job. Were there times when I made mistakes as a teacher. ABSOLUTELY. Do I regret them? ABSOLUTELY. Did I overstep my bounds? ABSOLUTELY. Guilty as charged.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Get it going on!

I have this idea that training is antithetical to expression. I can't quite express it to my satisfaction, but I see proof of it all the time. I see people who are untrained and they get it going on. I see people who are trained and the whole thing is dead for them. If there are exceptions, and that is why we train people, then I don't get it. Is it worth it to achieve exceptions? The exceptional? Is that what that means. Training is backward looking by definition. It is based on time tested and honored standards and traditions and successes. But time moves. That was then, this is now!

The only reason I bring this up again is that I have just seen it happen, again, and I have experienced both sides of it for myself. As a painter I have been over trained. Over informed. Recently I started making sculpture. It is so fresh. I don't know the rules. There are no voices in my head. I feel the way I did before I trained as a painter. Free. It feeds over into my painting, too, thank heavens. So many people, good and bad, think you shouldn't be allowed to be an artist without permission, without training, without the blessing of the institution. People shouldn't be allowed to be free!

I look in Art Forum and as weird as some things might be in there, I feel like I have seen them all a thousand times before, and it just looks like garbage. Stale, weird, self-absorbed dramatics. I've seen some things recently out in the world by some people who weren't trained, things I have never seen before, and I have to say, I feel envious that they can just do stuff and not know either what they are doing or that they aren't supposed to be able to do it. I've spent a lot of my life defying the "you can't do that" just because I wanted to do something and didn't care one way of the other about the powers that be or the rules. But it wears you down. I just had something I wanted to do. Maybe it was just something else. It wasn't a reaction or rebellion. I just had something I wanted to do. My ex-mother-in-law once said to me that I could do anything I wanted as long as it was "trad." I was confused. I thought she meant something like plaid. It was like saying you can paint your house any color you like as long as it is white.

Someone asked my daughter the other day if she was taking piano lessons. I cringed. My theory is, spend time with a piano. Get to know it. Let it know you. Then you can play the piano. I don't know one person who took piano lessons who actually plays, or likes playing the piano. Plus, why is it that we look the other way on this one: you play someone else's music and not your own. What is that all about? Even painting and writing you aren't expected to paint or write someone else's work. What is it with music that we swallow this kind of training and mind-set? Who is in charge? There really needs to be a revolution there. Of course there was. It was called jazz, or folk, or rock, or rap.

This person who asked my daughter if she is taking piano lessons meant well. She is finally getting to take "advanced" painting at Smith. But when the class started they didn't start painting. They started having crits before they started painting. The "preemptive" crit. Get it in before the student even has the audacity to think they might have an idea about who or what they are and what they might paint. Get to them before they naively think that they might just paint. That is evil.

Who survives this kind of tyranny? John Lennon didn't survive. John Doe didn't either. We need other people in charge. I've always felt sure that the last person to lead should be the one who wants to. We need benevolence in all things.