Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't Go Chasing Black Clouds in Search of Silver Linings, And Other Thoughts

You can't point to the silver lining to say a cloud was ok. Every cloud has a silver lining. Some people try to point to the silver lining to justify the cloud. Wrong. These are generally the same people who find the fault in things. Nothing is perfect. Everything has a fault. Finding the fault does not make you a critic, or make you right, or make something wrong. Wrong. People find the fault in others to keep themselves afloat.
We shoot for perfect like we shoot a basketball. They don't all go in but we keep the bar the same height, we're aiming to get it in, we're aiming for the hoop. It is imperative that we know where the hoop is and stay focused on that. As Bill Russell says: it is all about baskets!
Don't go chasing black clouds in search of silver linings.
There is a story to tell in modern art that has Gino Severini at the center of it. He was a kind of lynch pin. A key stone.
It started when he moved to Paris in 1907. By the end he was responsible for a domino effect which led from Cubism to Futurism to Suprematism and Constructivism to finally Minimalism. The key ingredient was movement. Movement and politics. By the time it ended with minimalism the movement and politics had gone out of it and it was just itself, the self-identical object. But a lot had to happen before then, and like I said, it all started in Paris in 1907.
Painting is a high risk high reward enterprise. The education system generally inspires conformism and backward thinking, especially when there are grades and passing and moving forward issues in the balance. Even the most broadminded of teachers has agendas, preferences, biases, and blind spots. The wrong teacher for a student can cause irreparable damage. So that when you combine the high risk high reward nature of painting with the high risk low reward nature of education it is a bad fit. Everybody knows this, they just think they will be different. The best teacher is like the best frame; the one that gets out of the way and lets the work shine on it own.
Painting also can very often be a one step forward two steps back experience, and the student artist needs to be in an environment where they can do that without fear of failure, condemnation, judgment, etc. A student artist needs to be able to go out on a limb and not get jumped on for breaking it off. It takes an awfully wise teacher to let a student fail so that they can paint their way out of trouble. It takes an awfully wise teacher to not step in a fix that. Every solution given the student artist just means one less solution is available to them when they get in trouble.

Staying in the moment while the future is beating down our door

Teenagers are hammered by questions about the future

Juried art shows aren't just political, they are intensely, fiercely political

The struggle to be real, not synthetic, not digital, not filtered, not fake, not obfuscated, not computer enhanced, not drug enhanced, not shouted down, not denied, not dismissed, not ignored, not lied to or not to lie, not misdirected, not sugar coated, not being blown off, not isolated, not asleep, not put to sleep, not on board, not rocking the boat, not squealing like a pig, not clinging to guns and religion, not being handled, not being bullied, not losing your head, not flipping out, not getting too comfortable, not looking the other way, not bought, not trying to be too secure, not part of the team, not part of the mob, not part of the ruling class, not a victim.

What is an artist to do? To show their work? Suck up to one or other establishment, the commercial art world, the academic art world, the museum art world? To all or none? To be real?

Addison Parks, Spring Hill, 2013

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