Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Subtle Sound of Silence
9.5 x 6 inches
acrylic & metallic pigment

There are times when doing nothing is everything. In that quiet space, surrounded by the pillow softness of silence, is the nebula of creative thought. 

I was reminded, once again, of the importance of doing nothing when I re-read Mary Oliver's poem, Today from a small gem titled; A Thousand Mornings.

Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I haardly move though really I'm traveling 
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple. 

Rushing from moment to moment, 
cell phones beckoning with a multitude of rings, 
disturbing the air as their owners, slaves to the sounds, 
 rush to answer;

 24/7 television news leaping, from disaster to disaster, 
each commentator trying to out-blast the next, 

the assualting cacaphony of the media, 
so easily dissappeared by simply turning the devices off! 
that we must do, otherwise go mad and disturbed throughout life, 

when we are meant to sit,
from time to time,
in the temple of stillness 
and breath in the clean, quiet air of silence. 

Are we so afraid of our thoughts? 
Have we lost the importance of doing nothing?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seeing without seeing

Black Square
8 x 6 inches
Acrylic on board

Abstraction allows [artist] man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.
Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind. It is the explosion into unknown areas. - Arshile Gorky

Perhaps this is why, like a dancer to a song, I am lured, I am drawn, I am pulled inside, with terrific force, into abstraction. 

I watch with amazement 
as my brush dances across the canvas- 
take a chance, 
make the mark, 
stand back; 
either love it 
or hate it,

Begin another stanza- 
and continue, 
until my mind sees, 
not with my eyes, 
but with my heart 
and with fearless knowing, 
it is finished. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What is Modern Art?

11 x 14 
oil & cold wax

The function of the artist is to express reality as felt. 

It is because reality has a historical character that we feel
the need for new art. The past has bequeathed us great works
of art: if they were wholly satisfying, we should not need new ones. 

This is the origin of our desire for new art. In our case, for modern art...
Robert Motherwell, The Modern Painter's World. 1944 
From The Writings of Robert Motherwell.

Reading these words made me wonder, what is modern art? Is it modern because it reflects the time in which it's created? By definition, then, current work of any period could be labeled as "modern". 

However, Motherwell explains " ...the popular association with the phrase "modern art" like that of medieval art, is stronger than its historical denotation. The popular association with medieval art is religiousness. The popular association with modern art is its remoteness from the symbols and values of the majority of [people] men." 

In historical context, this essay was written when Motherwell was 29 years old and WW11 was nearing its end.  You have to wonder, if the chaos of the times drove the "modern artists" to break the rules of realism; to search for meaning in the abstract. Reality made no sense.

Two World Wars less than a generation apart; how could that not influence the artists, writers and poets of the time?

How are the events surrounding us today finding their way into our art?

Sensational news overload; world wide social connections through Facebook and other  networks; the ever increasing dependence on the internet, which is an ever growing  web of connections, at one end a blessing and at the other, terrifying when it gets 'hacked" or shut down.

How will today's modern art be interpreted by the generation of arts, critics and historian of tomorrow? And what label will they put on today's work?

It could already be happening and I'm not aware. Modern art may be a passe term.

One thing that will never be passe, is the dissatisfaction that drives artists to look for new ways of expression.