L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, March 18, 2011

Writing when you have to

I'm nearing the deadline for finishing the talk that I'll be giving at the symposium at the Tacoma Art Museum on April 3rd. And, I have to say, it's proving to be rather a tough job. Since I'll by talking about my art, much of the presentation will be visual, but I still need to have enough material to go on for forty-five minutes. Forty-five minutes! Oh....

Though the theme of the symposium - which is in conjunction with the big Norman Rockwell exhibition at TAM - is the figurative in art, I'll end up speaking of other things as well. One of the thoughts rolling around in my head right now is the idea of "art for the art world" versus "people's art". Norman Rockwell was certainly a people's artist. That's one of the qualities, I believe, that made serious, critical attention and appreciation so slow to come; he wasn't seen as "serious" enough, his work is so straightforward and accessible. That's one area where I think our work has parallels.

I'm lucky that my career has come at a time when critics and the art establishment are increasingly more open minded about what kind of art can be taken seriously. But I still think my work is appreciated even more by the "average Joe". And though to be able to sell my work, I need to access a different layer of society, shall we say, I think - maybe unconsciously - I still aim my output at the less-art-educated majority. I'm not talking down to that audience. We appreciate the same things; their sensibilities are mostly my own. And they get my work as well, if not better, than the art-educated minority. The way I look at it, my work - with all its historicist excess, its gender tweaking, its unabashed prettiness - isn't meant to be thought over too deeply, just to be enjoyed. For its clear language and its "too utterly utter" preposterous pretensions. It's probably equally outrageous of me to say so, but I've come to think of my visual style as "elitism for the masses". And I hope it is.


  1. i had to do 30 min for a classroom w/ a handful of kids last wk and it destroyed me. godspeed sir

  2. Thanks, BP. I'm hoping I don't have to resort to telling dirty jokes and tap-dancing, just to fill some of the time.