Friday, September 28, 2012

Warhol's Soup Cans

I am listening to a podcast about an event in the art world 50 years ago. That being the day when Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup can paintings first were exhibited in an LA art gallery.

I do not want to rehash the story, it has already been written to death. What amused me were the words of one elderly art critic who was part of the scene at the time and, clearly of the old school, went so far as to blame Andy Warhol for changing all that was "good" about art and taking the value and structure out of it, ushering in an era when "anyone could call themselves an artist" and it would be ok.

I have to laugh at the audacity of that statement. To look at the era of abstract expressionism that was dominating the art scene at that time and to read some of the lofty praise thrown about, even going so far as to compare some of the gallery works to artistic acts of "shamanism". . . is just as ridiculous to me.

Do not get me wrong. Jackson Pollock is among my favorite painters of all time. Though Willem de Kooning is not.  Yet many see them both as almost one and the same.  They bantered back and forth about who was the greatest artist of their time, often in very choreographed and rehearsed dialogues and then, out of the blue, were affronted when someone upstaged them and the art world was turned upside down.

What seems clear to me is that the establishment of the art world did not like that it's end time, as with all great empires,  came too soon.  It has rarely been suggested that perhaps the changing times meant the public simply grew tired of the reign of artistic elitism and the same rehashing of lines, geometry and colors that people later accused Warhol of in his pop work. 

If anything, it seems to me that he exposed the art world for the frail, hulking skeleton it was.

Just as I , as a child, feared the 4 story tall T-Rex skeleton at the Carnegie museum in Pittsburgh. . . even knowing it was just old bones, it's size, stature and ferocity overwhelmed me. As the art word did, and still can do,  to many.

I cannot disagree with the critic's dismay with the word "artist" being so easily thrown about. It has become increasingly annoying, not solely because of it's own rampant and nonchalant use, but because there is usually little explanation beneathe the word to give it meaning for each individual.  While this is not necessarily a discredit or disservice to other 'artists" it IS a discredit to the individual using the word so loosely.

There are skills that accompany any working profession. The profession or pursuit of an artist is no different. I do believe that everyone has creative miracles within them but often the vagueness of the word, in it's context, is what makes it so for the person who calls themselves an artist.

A "laborer" is another common term of similar ilk. It does describe a large general swath of the work force. But, there are hundreds of jobs under that cloak, each with it's own varied skill set, that are worth taking pride in.

And I DO see art, in any form, as a labor.
Not a high and holy calling that deserves lofty praise.
A simple and austere blue collar path.  
One that requires a lifetime of patience, investment and spirited input

I call myself a maker-of-things
I work in polymer clay, paint and miniature scales.
I go to work on my art EVERY day
Though unlike the artists of DeKooning's era, I do not sit around drab bars at night and espouse my genius and my soul searching, gut wrenching art.  I have no interest in that bullshit.

As a child of the 80's I felt far more in touch with Warhol. His creations were more immediate than the art I found in many galleries and high art publications.  It was, if I had to choose one word, accessible. And that, in my own opinion, is what all great art should be. 

Looking back 50 years, I believe Andy Warhol opened doors for future generations in many ways.
If not in the elitist art world which, though no longer an intimidating  T Rex, does still thrive and exist, then in the world that came to realize that it is the viewer, and only the viewer, who truly determines the worth of any object.

There should be no turning back the hands of time
I applaud the abstract artists for their time as I do Warhol for his. 
This then, is a new time
A new world of art is created every single day

And as another icon of the pop era said, quoting a 19th century poet:

We are the music makers
And we are the dreamers of dreams. . .


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Playing with Passion

I constantly get asked where I find the time to create such a variety of items in such a wide range of mediums.  In addition to the three online shops I also write music and poetry too. And, yes, I make time for all of it.

The truth, as closely as I can tell it is this. Since I was a young boy, creating has been the most important thing in my world in one way or another.  What people get to "see", through my online shops, is just the tail end of that lifelong process.

The shops have only been open for two years. But the creativity and passion behind them are a force that has guided me for the last 40 years.

I try new ideas all the time because I have, thru that 40 years,  eliminated that angst artists often feel about how "good" their work is.  I know when I make something for the tenth time it will be many times better than the first iteration. But I know that my calling for creating is going to make sure that my first iteration is definitely setting the bar high.

If I have one true "passion" in life it is to make things. Now, the list of things I love or have deemed as a passion thru the years is quite long. Cooking, golf, travel, history, mythology, ice hockey, Zen study, building tree houses etc etc from ages 10 to 40 I filled my "spare time" with all sorts of pursuits. . . and they have all served me well.

But there from the start, before and through them all,  was the desire to make things.  

This is the inherent quality I talk about a lot.
Figuring out what is at it's core is a must for each person to be truly happy in life.
And I can almost guarantee you that your true passion somehow, someway, ties into who you were at a very young age.

It will manifest in a variety of ways throughout the years.
But it will have a raw and undeniable form that you will recognize.

And that form will not be based on how much money it can make you or how many other people will relate or understand it. It may be the one thing that leaves you feeling so very much alone. . . that too, in my opinion, can be a beautiful and healthy thing.

Creating your life, creating the happiness you seek, is inevitably tied to things we have always known in life.

How we can best manifest that in a daily form is ours to discover. . .
And then, when we do, it is up to us to change our lives to accommodate it fully. 

So, how do I manage to create so many things?
I simply NEED to. . . more than I need many things that other people fill their days with.
More than I need any of those things I used to list as my "other" passions. . . there just is not time and, if I want to succeed in creating a life from creating, I have to be willing to let some things go

So far, so good. . .

I have 40 years of history and passion behind me every step of the way. :)


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine - #2

Here are my September selections of work samples from my three Etsy shops.

My Antarctica
"From the Inside Out"
Photographic Construction 8 x 10

Bewilder and Pine
Miniature Onegai Jizo Statue

Shadow of the Sphinx
Full Ibis Form Djehuty Votive Statue

Thank you for looking!

Whatever it is you are seeking in this world, I hope you find it in everything that you see!!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Cycle of Seasons

I haven't written anything here for some time.

This is not out of a lack of ideas or content. . . it is more that my brain has been overloaded with thoughts.
Creative ideas
Possibilities and questions

It's autumn. . . or close enough
My mind does this at the end of every summer as it has since the days of grade school.

It's like fall is a reset button in my soul.
I find myself purging old thoughts and attitudes
My eyes open to new things and something in me seems to connect with the faltering of summer
and the transformations of fall.

It's the beginning of my creative season too
Following the warmest season which always seems to leave me in a fog. . .

And this year, on top of it all, I find myself thinking more about the possibility of whether there is a divine plan to it all

My life has had more than it's share of turning points and moments I can only describe as "guided"
All along, since I was 7, possibly earlier, I've felt the presence of other forms and entities around me.
Voices have, literally, saved my life
Imagination too has been a saviour of sorts
And I've gone off course before over the years
Only to pulled back by luck, fate, timing, circumstance. . .
Call it what you will
It comes along with the cycle of seasons too. . .
And life as one big cycle, is fulfilling that as well now
In the summer of my life, the fog all around me, I lost the way
Not completely mind you
But I read the signs wrong
Missed the opportunities to advance and grow
Or perhaps, I was just "biding my time"

Now, the autumn of life is here for me
The years are past their brightest and fullest point
this, I expect, is a very good thing

The fog is clearing
The voices and dreams are returning
I am on course again
Finding the strength to stay steady
Is a daily challenge
And so I come back to imagination
As I always have
The worlds I invent
Are what keep me in reality
As I create it
Walk through it
And disappear

nicolas hall