I’m enrolled in a painting class for the first time in over a decade, and I’m really enjoying it. Much better to know that oils require both a solvent AND a medium, which no one ever told me at KCAI. I blame myself, I could have looked it up, but instead I haven’t touched oil paint for a third of my life.

With class, comes readings, and with readings, come response essays. This one is ostensibly a response to a chapter by David Deutsch, but I very quickly go off on a tangent about the nature of art and how my son perceives things. I was told this would be a better blog post than essay by my Professor ( Hi Gabrielle!) and she’s probably right. So without further ado:

The New Problems

Response to “Why Are Flowers Beautiful?”, from The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.

David Deutsch wants to make a case for an objective basis for beauty in aesthetics and art.

This is an excellent chapter to have read this morning as in between seeking botanicals to approximate a natural color wheel.  I appreciated the search for color varieties among the rich consistent greens, and felt as though I was on a quest to find a mythic creature: a rare blue out in the wild. I wonder if that isn’t the basis for our appreciation of beauty as much as anything else- rarity. Value is created by the perception of uniqueness. If the natural landscape where comprised of mostly flowers, we might re-examine the inherent loveliness of an oak leaf, but on this planet, brightly colored, delicate petals with unique patterns are harder to come by, so we look a bit harder at them.

People are discrimination machines, in the pure sense of simply distinguishing one thing from another. We begin classification in the crib, and learn to spot differences, similarities and patterns as a necessary cognitive tool, one that allows us efficiency and depth in thinking. Generalizations occur as we replace an objective ongoing investigation of the real world with the simulacra we create inside our heads. This allows us to walk down the street without stopping every 2 feet to examine each new dandelion we encounter.

My son is one and stops to examine everything. We never get anywhere, which is my point. Eventually he will create a map of the world in his head and will see a generalized tree, or dandelion, or bug, and he will zoom right past them on his way to enact a plan- climb a tree, play ball, etc. I enjoy sharing walks with him, because it slows me down too. Our short-but-long walks remind me of artist thinking.

Artists push our perceptions back to that examination of minutia, framing an object or a moment in such a way to allow us to see it again, past our separations, categories, assumptions, short cuts and calluses. Just like disrupting a visual or musical pattern creates focus and contrast, placing a ‘frame’ around a moment of reality allows us to focus on the poetry that was always present.

Specialization in any field is an inevitable progression: as new information is discovered, new language is required to condense and communicate ideas. Bundled in this information are field-specific axiomatic truths- the sum of years of accumulated discovery. Any advanced study, whether of arts or sciences, requires practitioners to understand this dense bundle of information and be able to communicate and make use of it. There are, in effect, ‘initiates’ in any given field who must first master this shared language to proceed.

In art this means understanding the principles of design, composition and color. We understand these formal concepts- balance, symmetry, harmony, as an inherent function of what is attractive visually.  But what do we use the tools for? Not just recording what is pretty in the world. We have tools for that. So what do we use art for?

For me, modern art- or ‘art’ with a capital ‘A’- is born somewhere between the invention and widespread commercial use of the camera. The burden of art had been split between fairly utilitarian purposes for most of history- either to resemble the physical world (representation) or to illuminate a higher truth- (bible stories, divine right of kings-style illustration).

Partly this is due to the patron-system that placed artists in the service of Royalty and Religion, which used art as a tool for address and control, and as a status symbol. The rise of the middle class brought with it new opportunities for different use of art.

But these jobs for art speak to an innate need to understand and imitate our universe.

Photography takes away the mimetic burden, and asks artists to consider other criteria for art making. Artists responded by examining the formal aspects of art making- color, form, space, and within less than a hundred years from the debut of the camera, artists reject ‘subject’ as the primary motivation for art making, instead focusing on how an artwork is situated in a larger ongoing narrative. The camera records reality perfectly well, which makes room for modern art and the modern artist, for whom representation is only one decision among many to consider when producing art.

This engagement in an ongoing meta-narrative provides artists with new problems to address in their work. Artists are in the business of inventing new problems and then solving/ investigating them with their work. The historical ‘problem’ of how to represent reality objectively (which for centuries was a basis for accomplishment) has given way to what is new, novel, or almost metaphysical that an artist can express.

The question for an artist is not just ‘what’ to make but ‘how’ and ‘why’.

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Starbound 19

June 25, 2013

Starbound 19

Let’s get real for a sec.

Starbound 18! jeez.

June 25, 2013

Starbound 18! jeez.

Meet Deke Lumenski!

Starbound#17

June 25, 2013

Starbound#17

New Starbounds!

June 25, 2013

New Starbounds!

Overdue Starbounds from the LEO Weekly- I guess I could post em as they go, but I’m kinda busy and besides, this is more like ‘waiting for the trades.’ I have broken my own rules about stand alone stories and begun the ‘Noboddy’s Business’ Saga. It’s just so much more fun to tell an ongoing story!

Public at Public

January 20, 2013

I’m pleased to have been asked to participate in the first show at the Louisville Visual Art Association’s new gallery space, Public. I was given a really beautiful lightbox and asked to create a piece on the theme ‘Public’. After much sketching and a few false starts, I came up with something I’m pretty happy with. I’m calling it “You Are What You Meet”

IMG_0162

Come see what it looks like plugged in, with light behind it! It will look different! Will it look better? Well, I don’t know. That’s the question, isn’t it? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

I brought this piece in front of my classes at Waggener High School and had Mrs. Linkhart’s Art 2, Art 1, and Computer Design students give me their opinions, and their feedback was wonderful. It was great having having this piece get a conversation started, and they ‘got where I was coming from’. I would be happy to discuss all these heavy meanings with you in person at the show:

public @ PUBLIC

1/24 – 3/3

Members Only Reception

Wednesday, Jan. 23  6 to8pm

Opening Reception

Thursday, Jan. 24  6 to 9pm

with music by Lydia Burrell

Louisville Visual Art Association
609 W Main Street, 2nd Floor
Louisville, KY 40202
502.584.8166

New Starbounds!

January 20, 2013

The ‘Noboddy’s Business’ Saga Continues….All these originally published in the LEO WEEKLY, 2012-2013

starbound12web

 

starbound15web

I was in The Paper!

January 20, 2013

Ted Nathanson portrait -35

Very Big Thanks to Matt Dobson and all the fine folks at The Paper for a) featuring the burgeoning, diverse, talented local comics scene in their latest issue, and b) running several articles that feature yours truly. Glad I could participate- and I’m pleased with the way the whole thing came out.

Here’s my ‘ Meet Your Maker’ interview

Here’s an article about my comic classes

and Here’s an article about the Louisville Cartoonist Society!

Group

The January issue of The Paper is still out around Louisville and is packed with a bunch of great comics, including an article on the mighty Steven Bowman! Go grab one- for collector value if nothing else!

New Starbounds!

October 31, 2012

 

 

 

 

the first three installments of the Noboddy’s Business Saga!