Thursday, September 25, 2008


As an artist, there are numerous ways to judge the excellence of a piece of art. A colleague of mine, Walter Driesbach, once commented that he recognized quality in a work of art if it made him envious. We think of envy as one of the seven deadly sins, and uncontrolled it is acid demon. But it also has quiet messages that tell us achievement, standards, perseverence and the tremendous transformative power of the personal creative act.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What is art? (continued)

Art is what you ask it to be. Ask it to be merely pretty, and it will be. Ask it to make you feel happy, and it will. Ask it to give you status, and it will. Ask it for a return on your investment, and it will. Ask it to blend into your wall, and it will. Ask it to ask you questions, and it will. Ask it to make you uncomfortable, and it will. Ask it to make your world bigger, and it will. Ask it to help you understand what it means to be human, and it will.

Ask and it will deliver.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What is art?

What is art? Some digging will uncover all kinds of definitions. These definitions will clarify, confuse, provoke, give insight, seem laughable, contradict one another, hang on the past, try to define a future, muddle the now, be conscientious, be flippant, be genuine, be self-serving...

What can someone who cares about art do? First, don't give up. Whatever the definition, it contributes something to the dialogue and could teach us something. Second,look with an open mind at lots of art. It's the art that triggers the definition, not the other way around. Third, come to some resolution, even if a transient one, of what you expect of art. The more you expect of it, and consequently the artist, the subtler, richer and more incisive a definition would be.

And, in the end, it's your definition, your expectations, of art that will determine how it enters and transforms your life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Born Human

None of are born human. Well, that's arguable, but let's start there. What then do we acquire that makes us human? Do we grow into it, or do we earn it? How do we know we are there? How do we define that we are there? Are we human at only our very best or very worst or in the struggles with the muddle of best and worst?

Who shows us how to be human? How do we reconcile the violence, wars, slavery, brutality, greed, dishonesty and hatred? How do we reconcile each of our own tiny murders?


In the end, our lives revolve around a handful of events, each the center of an expanding presence: ripples radiating from a stone dropped in a small pond, a firework expanding into a sphere, a black hole, the thump on a cathedral bell. They extend outward into our past and future in mediated collisions, resonances, chaos and other manifestations of psychological physics. We aren't ever sure that these events are true or real or even happened since they come back to us wrapped in memory or anger or childhood innocence or the layers of others' interpretations. But they direct our lives, sculpt our realities, form the web of our relationships.

I have mine. And the best sense I can make is little sense at all.