Friday, January 21, 2011

The Art of: Not Getting It.

Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it. -- Vladimir Mayakovsky
I believe art may have the greatest impact for social transformation because of its ability to impact people on multiple levels--emotional, spiritual, rational, political, physical, or any such combination. And through that ability it creates dialogue and inspiration to become better people. It can be thought-provoking and yet also be the voice for people who are unable to communicate their own ideas. It connects.

Perhaps that's why artists are the sexiest people on the planet. They are sensitive. They are dedicated. They are vulnerable. They are expressive and creative above and beyond the average citizen. And for most of them they are trying to make a difference.

And that's hot.

But I think it's time for me to come out.

I want to be perfectly honest here.

Most of the time, when I go to a gallery I just don't get it.
Presumably many people are like this. Maybe that's what makes art so important. Because a piece that speaks to me may mean absolutely nothing to the next person and vice versa.

But often I am afraid that by admitting I don't get something I will come off looking like an ignorant asshole. Someone who just doesn't "understand" high art. And I guess, one of my all-time personal fears is being seen as an idiot. Which is why, sometimes at galleries I just look at the art, raise my eyebrows, sigh and then go get a glass of wine.

I don't want to continue skimming through galleries acting like it's all okay.

If I must, I will admit that I'm an idiot when it comes to art and ask people to explain.

But in general I would like my gallery experience to change.

For one, I want to quit going to galleries that are set up like high-end clothing stores. I'm not going to buy the art, but I'll buy the "idea" that the art is trying to sell.

Secondly I'd like more touching, more feeling, pieces off and on the wall. It's about community now. Anyone can look at art any time, but not everyone can be in the same space and feel something together.

Finally, going back to my first idea about art being transformative...I'd like it to reach beyond the gallery somehow. This is why I find street art compelling. Now I am aware that not all of it is good. But I like the "idea" of it.

You're going along with your regular day, you're on the train, or the bus, or walking down the street and you notice something that normally is doldrum suddenly transformed, a wall, lamp post, a window, it alters one's sense of place, it shifts one's mode of thinking, it disturbs the everyday--usually in a good way. It's very D.I.Y. It's very punk in a way, in that it doesn't conform to a particular space or need to be in a gallery or need to become a commodity (unless you're one of the "street artists" who are now doing it as a commodity, but that's a different story, I believe it's now a documentary).

But that rebellion, that juxtaposition between art and everyday. That's what I'd like to see more of. That's what I'd like to see explored. And it doesn't have to fit the confines of street art either, it can be something else entirely as long as it's making waves, creating dialogue, conjuring inspiration in others.

That's why I love and hate art at the same time. Because I want to understand where the artists are coming from and I want to take away something from their work.

I guess I just need to come to the conclusion that it's not all out there for me to get. And that's okay.

Maybe someday I will "get it" all but maybe I won't.

In the meantime, I'll just have to go, look, ask, and enjoy.

I will soak in the feeling of not understanding. I will linger in that space for awhile and take pleasure in the unknowing. I will accept both and all that is in between in an attempt to make my art experience more fulfilling, more rewarding.

Pretending doesn't give me room to grow. And that's what art, in my opinion, is supposed to help do.

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