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Lesson Plans

Re: Art in America

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Fri, 31 May 1996 14:01:53 -0700 (MST)

On Wed, 29 May 1996, Joanne Snyder wrote:

> At this point in America the only people who supposedly appear to
> support the "Arts" are those who use it as some sort of investment,
> or tax break.... A terrible generalization but as an artist for over
> 20 years in the fields of sculpture, painting and drawing and having
> approached galleries from New York City to Seattle to Key West to
> Boston I truly have come to the conclusion that no one cares about
> art whether it is high, folk or whatever ....

I think its a lot more complex than this Joanne. If this were accurate I
don't see that you, I or anyone else would have much of significance to
do as art educators. It would be rather pointless. There ARE eople who
care deeply about their understanding of art and what it is. There are
people who need to distinguish between folk, pop, and high art but most
of them are academics of one sort or another.

Some artists seem to do well with galleries and museums of modern or
contemporary art. I don't fault them but it hasn't proven to me my realm
so I no longer have much interest (except when hunger gnaws) in that part
of reality. The majority of "THEM" do not seem to share many of my
interests in art. They have their world and I have mine. No doubt my
attitude would be different if...

> ....I truly have come to the conclusion that no one cares about
> art whether it is high, folk or whatever .... in reality those
> distinctions have no meaning...

I'd say that most DISTINCTIONS, as separate entities, do not have much if
any meaning. Distinctions are useful but not meaningful to my mind. Like
some art, distinctions are representations. To discuss things it can be
useful to represent them.

> Art is Art whether done yesterday by a peasant or tomorrow from
> Pluto..

I'd have to say that for some this was true, that for others it was
clearly false and that for me it didn't matter much at all. For me what
art IS or what Is art are notions pretty much governed by contexts and
beliefs. I begin to believe that ART has become a portmanteau word; a
word that we use to mean a plethora of differing things many quite
contradictory. It marks an area which needs greater distinction and
broader understanding. I begin to believe that there is no "ART" as a
broad and generallly describable category. There seem to be a number of
behaviors, processess and products which on the surface appear to be
similar but underneath seem quite discrete. Up until now appearances
have governed (I'd say) our understandings, rather like lumping welders
and carpenters, doctors and morticians, philosophers and slapstick
comedians.... formal and instrumental, expressionist or cognative..

Is there an eternal and fixed verite for art? Gee, I hope not, at least
not to any great extent. I rather hope art is vital and changing what it
is like any living entity or institution.

> Instead the selling of art is rather connected to the political, social
> and yes sex of the artist.

I'd say that politics and economics were inextricable that where profit
is possible politics intrudes.

As to the question of sex/gender... another portmanteau or box of
confusion. Aside from the actual process and events of reproduction the
need for a binary set of sexes eludes me. Outside of the discussion of
reproduction, hormones, and chromosomes the terms male and female seem
generally inadequate to the diversity I meet daily on the street and in
the classroom. Again we face a problem exacerbated by superficial
appearances, in this case NOT similarities but differences which in
actuality are relavent it seems to a very limited set of circumstances.

In at least one assessment ( the Bem Gender Assessment) I am a female
(not even androgynous!) and I'm damn proud of the fact too. Justifies
some of the scars I've been gathering; it indeed does.

> There have been many studies on how many female sculptors have been
> exhibited in this country compared to the number of males....

And a terribly dumb notion it has been! How odd to discriminate thusly,
and equally how odd to accept the categorization without consideration
and to insist upon its institutionalization and the institutionalization
of the largely arbitrary separation which it established.

No doubt most people disagree with this assessment of mine. And I would
say it is quite reasonable to disagree. No doubt "most people" would
disagree with the generalized assessment of any individual and it's quite
right. We EACH have very distinct beliefs and understandings in this
regard; understandings not REALLY as widely shared as any agreement that
we (as a group) disagree. Is everyone confused now? I am!

> As for
> American culture goes in relation to the arts... in particular to
> the Visual Arts, America tends to be concerned with the acquisition
> of money and power inasmuch as Art can do that ... then America can
> be involved.... Galleries for example will only take Art work with
> the knowledge that it will sell giving them an income(and hopefully
> the artist too...)Their true concern can never be Wow.!!!!This is
> art and we will therefore show it, exhibit it and let the artist
> eat....No it is Wow!!!This will sell...

I was sitting in the park yesterday having a little chat with America
when Brazil came up and invited he out for a cup of matte'.

To say "America tends to be concerned with the aquisition of money and
power..." sounds kind of like we're gossiping about an absent friend
turning an abstract concept "america" into a concrete and singular entity
with a personality and personal concerns. We all do this and frequently
too I think. Generally such reification is innocuous and effects very
little. But, it can begin to confuse us especially if we begin to respond
TO an imaginary America rather that to the conditions we face IN
America... to respond to a reified entity rather that interact with the
individuals around us which make up some part of that greater and
abstract entity. America is us. (Unless of course you are French, Ugandan,
Aussy, Kiwi, Singaporan (?) Canadienne, or some other species of net
denizen, eh?)

It's neat to think about these things, to find people who care and are
willing to jump into a discussion and explore them!
thanks Joanne!!!