We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I read somewhere that Bob Dylan (a self-described "song and dance man") once tried to meet a girl in front of NYC's Metropolitan Museum by asking her "D'ya want to come in with me to look at some pretty pictures?"
Cute, and right. Better than "Come up and see my etchings." The young woman in question, if I recall the story right, said "No, thanks" to the scruffy little guy.
Like most people, I do not know what art means. It's maybe a useless word. "Craft" is a very useful word. "Creative" is a useless word unless applied to Michelangelo, Picasso, or Shakespeare, but even then I dislike the word.
I’m not sure that artist even makes sense as a term anymore, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it giving way before the former ("creator"), with its more generic meaning and its connection to that contemporary holy word, creative. Joshua Wolf Shenk’s Powers of Two, last summer’s modish book on creativity, puts Lennon and McCartney with Jobs and Wozniak. A recent cover of this very magazine touted “Case Studies in Eureka Moments,” a list that started with Hemingway and ended with Taco Bell.
When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes “creative” and everybody “a creative,” then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So “art” itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which—unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life—is nothing much to mourn.
Walter Inglis Anderson believed that art should be accessible to everyone. He carved beautiful pictures in WWII surplus linoleum, pressed them into the backside of wallpaper, hand painted it and sold it a dollar a foot. He painted murals for the local schools and buildings for the WPA during the depression. His family's pottery on the Gulf Coast sold his sculptures and prints for years for little profit. If art isn't accessible or affordable, is it art? My uncle played the guitar for the pleasure of himself and others. It wasn't Beethoven and it wasn't played in concert hall, but after a hard day of picking cotton, sitting on a porch, waiting for a cool breeze, it was a fine thing. Most "art" is a scam. If it doesn't enrich your soul on a visceral level, then it is someone pulling a massive prank on you.
Have you seen what the so-called "experts" have been passing off as art for the last 70 years? Everyone has and it inspires derision not awe. Not to mention, it has been done by forcible extraction of monies and giving them to the crony of some art committee. They then stick it in a park, call it "art".
So yes, the question that comes to mind when exposed to the ugly art is who is the charlatan, who is the creator of this mess, not who is the artist, because it isn't art.
IIRC, artists, publicists, and academics widely proclaimed the death of the artist in the 1970s, renouncing the idea of the artist as patriarchal and capitalistic, then announcing the future belonged to the craftsmen, whom we now call artisans.
Here's what I think art is. Art is something that goes beyond the written or spoken word to communicate some manner of emotion or feeling to the viewer. It can include that written or spoken word (especially in the performing arts), but it goes beyond that.
Good art is something that does this for a great many people.
Great art is something that does this for a great many people and does so over a long period of time. For example, we have many musical performing artists in our era. Tell me how much of the music they have written and performed will be performed 100 years from now? Bach and Beethoven will be.
Finally, the meaning of a work of good or great art does not have to be explained by the artist. The work must be abel to stand on its own.