Monday, August 6, 2012

Art and Community

Art and community pose an interesting topic. How do artists become more integrated within their community and understand the flow and pulse of what is happening. That is really what it is about. Al art is a reflection of community, either directly or indirectly. The real question is how will each artist choose to interact with others in the community. How will their art become available?

This poses the question of how does an artist choose between a festival, a traditional gallery, and self promoto online, or all three? Art is for the masses. Art can be in corporate offices. That is fine. People can pay a lot of money for art, that is fine as well. However, while it is most likely  goal of most artists to live off of their art work, how does one survive. Selling art of thousands of dollars is great, but it eliminates much of the market from experiencing our work. If you charge peanuts for your work, then it is likely we will feel we are being short-changed for what we are doing, and possibly underappreciated.

I think it takes a very delicate balance to be an artist of the people for the people and still maintain that "higher" academic level of work. Meaning, you try to avoid being labeled just another person who paints to feel good. Yes, their is some serious academic reasoning and research behind art. It is not just painting another pretty flower or landscape, or even screaming at the top of your lungs and saying "Lok at me! My art has meaning! I am a neo-abstract expressionist!" (or whatever other labels are out there)

Here is the bottom line, and I think it is one that we (artists) need to take seriously; art is a language that we need to be able to speak and translate. The educated art community understands the subtleties of imagery, process, context, movements, etc. However, let me illustrate my point by recounting an experience I had with my wife going to SFMOMA. We walked into a room of color field and abstract expressionist paintings and my wife was completely at a loss. Sure, there were a lot of people there besides us, taking in the work. However, how does one understand contemporary thinking and contemporary work? I explained the history, context, etc. to my wife and she understood then more about it. However, this is just like contemporary artists with the modern viewer - we need to translate our work so more people can understand us. Also, for those who paint strictly for visuals and in academic styles, that is fine, but I think it is our responsibility to be able to hold a contemporary conversation about our work and argue for its contemporary relevance.

All art is important and has meaning. It is up to the artist to find their place. My place, I feel, is in the community. For me, all styles are valid, but their needs to be a level of proficiency and excellence and there needs to be an ability to articulate their work to the community. It is up to us to choose how to make our art available to which communities. Art is everywhere and it is up to artists to start taking their place in society and sharing and interacting more with the people. I have heard that "Artists are the conscience of society." I think this is true. However, if the artists do not bring their art to the people and make it have relevance and meaning, then how can we ever hope to be any kind of conscience?

One exception I have to note is my mother. She has raised generations of artists in our family. She has chosen make her immediate community her family. Then, in turn, we have helped to extend that message and art to a larger community by acting as a family co-operative. Art can function in all kinds of ways, and this type of art, that moves from generation to generation and laterally across family members is one of the most valuable kinds because each year we lose more and more art within the schools. So more and more training is going to come from practicing artists and not art teachers. Or, in our case, it comes from within our own family. Just choose a community and share your art, whether it is your own family or your own city.

Jesse Brown
Be sure to come to our openingif you can.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...nice argument, but my brain has difficulty understanding what you're saying. Haha! I am not an artist, so really I can't pretend to understand. Lol!

    But whatever you're doing, just keep on doing it because it is one that I think you're good at.