Twenty years ago in High School, I was all about art. I was good at it, enjoyed it, and I defined myself with the term of "artist." I took art classes at the community college because I disdained the calligraphy heavy art courses the HS offered, and was a little creeped out by high saturation of Wrestlers and Stoners who took the Crafts course: essentially a ceramics class taught by the wrestling coach (although I gutted it out for a year and learned some interesting vocabulary). I hung out with kids who called themselves Punks, Wavers, and Mods and I knew that was "who" I was... an artist.
I don't do that much anymore, label myself as an artist.
People who knew me then are always surprised, when they meet me nowadays, to find that I have very little to do with the visual arts any more. More than once, I have felt that I have let them down. The feeling doesn't last long, but it's not fun while it's here.
What a strange place I am in, and in some ways it makes me a little sad; this diffident relationship I have to all things "art" these days. We are strangers, but for the love of crayon and glue that my girls have. Strangers, and I was not even aware that we had slipped completely out of touch until I read a recent post on Feminist Mormon Housewives the other day. The post was regarding balancing the love of art and still keeping to LDS standards. An interesting read, and something pertinent to my life... but HOO! The comments started to get off into the realm of "what is true art" and some commenter's started labeling the bulk of mainstream LDS art as "propaganda" and "cheesy." If your interested, go read the comments for yourself... for my part, I started to feel annoyed at some of the dismissive and arrogant stances some of the folks were taking about "art". Attitudes and ideas that I suspect a nineteen year old "bon" might have subscribed to.
On many levels... art annoys me. Especially art that considers itself ART, and I am trying to figure out how I ended up here, and how long I'm a gonna stay at this point in my relationship to (esp.) the visual arts. Visualize the face a two years old would make upon biting in to a piece of baking chocolate.... expecting sweet-yummy, getting bitter-yukky. THAT'S the state of the relationship.... on my side at least, because ART, and the art world? Could not care less that I no longer love it.
There have been specific points in my road to disenchantment with the art world, and I may catalog a few in a different post, but mostly I am sick to death of the elitist attitudes that so many involved in art seem to sport. The idea that all real-and-for-true art must "challenge" us and make us "think." The dismissal of beauty for beauty's sake. But mostly the dismissal of people... any people who do not get it, or do not care for high ART.
Perhaps it is sour grapes from hour long critiques, and long winded and blatantly BSed discussions on the artistic process.... maybe it was the gleeful, half-ironic attempts of my fellow students in trying to start the UNM Eff-You-ist movement. Perhaps it was the semester I learned that the Advanced Painting instructor, who was ostensibly trying to get us to find our own "voice" and "expression," really only wanted wanted us to do it within HIS version of the artistic process.
And then a few years later while working at the local art supply store, assisting that same instructor and coming to realize that the man knew jack about the chemistry of his own craft, and was barely cognizant of archival issues. Teaching. Advanced painting.
I learned almost nothing that I wanted to in school.
(2 B continued)