|Postcard for my grand-scale abstracts show, on display at the Emerson Center for Arts & Culture in Bozeman, MT until Nov. 17th, 2017|
I love abstract art. I am definitely one of those people who stands in an art museum enthralled with the small details of a big blue panel with a single, straight line of red painted on it, building my own story of why the artist made this bold move to submit this to the public's scrutiny, all the while listening to some chump next to me saying his "2-year-old could have painted that". HA! Gee, I haven't heard that one before! But often times these pieces end up in museums because no one HAD done such a thing before their time. There may be humor or irony, or crazy textures that were otherwise thought to be garbage in a world that loves realistic, non-controversial paintings and measures an artist's skill by how well they can mimic a photograph with a brush.
Well, I love the courage it must have taken to be a trailblazer in the genre. To make something so simple, resist the urge to overwork the canvas so things stay "fresh" or maybe to resist the urge to stop working the painting into complete mud only to emerge on the other side with something new and interesting. This takes gumption, in my opinion. What's even harder, is to then take this piece, that you KNOW some people will scoff at, and stand next to it proudly, convinced of the importance of your journey in making it and showing it to the world. Thinking outside of the box is rarely rewarded in our modern western culture unless for some reason, after the fact, your design becomes mainstream, a fad, something that all the cool people like. With abstract art, you take a leap saying, "you may find this uncomfortable or confusing but here is a little part of my inner workings, expressed on the outside for you to interact with."
Sometimes the point of the abstract art IS to elicit the response that their "2-year-old could have done that", because it makes them question why they never valued their own stick-figure drawings, thus bringing out that whole lost-inner-child complex they have been burying all these years. Haha! Emotional? Angry you spent $10 to get in and THIS is all you get?? Ahh yes, I can see you have some past vulnerabilities bubbling up that make you squirm as evidenced by your need to put this in a box with a simple definition and run away. The abstract art has just fulfilled its own purpose once again! I guess what I'm trying to say is, in spite of my ass chapping a little every time I hear those comments, I remember after long contemplation that the point is to get people to react to the art in any way possible. THAT reaction makes it memorable, and now the art has made an impression on you.
As a human person raised in a sea of doubt about abstract anything though, standing in the gallery next to your abstract art is packed with intense vulnerability to push through, in a fake-it-till-you-make-it sense. Many people are excited by the work, some are cautiously trying to make polite comments when they sense they are within an earshot of you, and some simply can't hide their distaste for such things, which is all OK. As an artist, I squirm trying to resist silly explanations of my work or discounting the efforts it took to make my abstract art, mentioning that I too make things that look real and easier to appreciate for the masses. It's funny because with abstract work, the goal is not necessarily to make your work look like something, but to feel like something. Or maybe the goal is just to perform a process of art-making and be glad with whatever comes out as a result. No external rewards, just making something different for the sake of valuing that which is different. And I think our world could use a whole lot more of that kind of energy, don't you? (My show is free to look at, by the way, as I haven't made the museum circuit just yet...)