Wednesday, March 14, 2007

what's in a vase

Finally, regarding Ryans parting dig at Jonathan's vases, here are a few points I'd make.

First let me parse what it seemed like Ryan was saying about the vase when was so dismissive of it:
The vase is a symbol for the things in life that are trivial, the things that we don't need. We can live without a vase. The vase is decorative. The vase is not art it is craft. The vase is delicate, too easy to smash. it represents this whole endeavor.
That vase matters because crappy design is part of the consumer culture, disposible culture, a culture that doesn't think about where our products come from and who made them and how they were made.

That vase represents a resistance to all of that. It is about thinking about where things are made and who made them. And about having things that we want to keep.

Why should we have things around us that are ugly when it costs the same to design something This is the reason why high-end designers have moved into developing lines for Target and K-Mart.

If we are to think about things we have ather than just accumulate them then we need to consider the importance of the things we have around us. When I have a barbeque I would rather serve my friends on bright polka dot melanine than on paper plates.

I like to decorate the table and put flowers in vases. (I would especially like to put them in a JA vase . . . )

pretty colors.

Is this a trivial act? The answer to this question is actually far from simple.

Virginia Woolf wrote an entire novel about it (and a few other things as well). If you are an interior designer and you have not read Mrs. Dalloway then hie thee to a bookstore and start reading it now and don't stop until you are finished. (The Hours is a wonderful novel but it isn't the same and the movie is supposed to be fine but Virginia Woolf and Clarissa Dalloway are too real to me to see on film and the idea that a nitwit like Nicole Kidman portrayed Virginia Woolf and won an Oscar because she wore a fake nose is scandalous even for the Academy. But I digress ...

The set table is about hospitality and hospitality is about culture. It is about the idea of home. What nourishes us.

yummy. like spumante

Are these statements not radical enough? Not overtly political enough? When the reason we are creating art is to spread one's message or when we must label art with a message or when we decide whether we like art based on our politics we are creating propaganda not art.

The aesthetics of the vase is in itself about so many things -- first of all it is a vessel. It is the shape of a woman's body.

It is the source.

The more I think about someone who calls themself an artist acting this way about an artist's vase the more lightheaded I start to feel.

abacus, beaded
very contemporary, very mod, and
very art nouveau as well with its organic shapes and japonisme

It seems ironic that Ryan's snobbery about being an artist would place him in the art versus craft hierarchy (intentionally or not) looking down at the person who actually gets his hands dirty.

Ryan -- who was all about making political statements his work -- assumed that Jonathan had nothing to say about ecology and design. Of course someone whose art is about working with the earth has probably never thought about that.

igneous in jade
(some of my personal favorites, esp in sand)

As for the idea that they are mainly used for decorative purposes.

vidalia (gasp! to die for),

If that were true, and whatever that does mean, I, for one, do not want to live in a world that only values the utilitarian. That is George Bush's world.

anemone -- has a bit of a zeisel feel to it

That is the world that sees no value in poetry because there is no use in it.

igneous in sand
a harsh beauty

Then there are the people who dismiss a certain work of art a field of art because its purpose is considered trivial or its meaning is not immediately apparent or it doesn't have a high enough status (too feminine?) in the hierarchy of the arts.

(reminds me of stones --
his works on paper),

The idea that something is trivial, small, inconsequential is never a reason not to cherish it. The idea that something has no value in the world is never a reason not to say it isn't essential to one's life.


Anonymous said...

I make a hell of a coil pot. Thin delicate coils, I can also sculpt a figure while pushing clay to its' limits- but art educators have questioned me whether its art or craft. I argue that coil pots are my art therapy and figural sculpture captures an essence. That said to some degree art differs from craft. There are a lot of skilled craftsman out there but is it art? I don't think its just Ryan that's caught up in this debate..

Ms. Place said...

Give me a good pot over a badly conceived work of art. Give me a bad original over a poster copy of a masterpiece. Give me a child's finger painting over what passes as art in most galleries.

Museums are crammed with junk that happens to hang there because it was purchased by a collector with bad taste. True masterpieces jump out from the dregs; it is startling to behold once one has developed an eye.

For that matter, give me an interior that was designed with passion and reveals something about an owner's personality and preferences. I could care less about the cookie cutter designs that are so prevalent in hotel lobbies and restaurants and even in my friends' houses.

As for Ryan, he may be trained as an artist, but he reveals very little knowledge about art history, history, or his cultural roots in general. He should go back to school and then work on being humble.

Thanks for giving me forum to rant.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Place-Thank you. I have a rant and would like more of yours.

I went to grad school for photoshop work that was like paintings. The profs pushed me towards photo realism with one dissenting voice from the printing dept (which was not considered fine art). I was arrogant like most young artists (I'd argue it was more my personality than arrogance)but did move towards realism to prove I could. Unlike my classmates I didn't have a theory to spout, public speaking puts me into anxiety/auto-pilot mode. I don't regurgitate books I've read or pictures I've seen- I apply the ideas,work with themes and iconography. This was the most controversial- I don't see the viewer as my reason to make art. (I don't think Michelangelo painted The Last Judgment for his patrons, considering he mocked them and they hired someone else to retouch the image.) In fact, I consider the viewer largely irrelevant to the process.

I would answer questions with sinceritiy,speak about my influences which are painters. Yet, each "walk through" I would inevitably have the entire room arguing, not with me but with each other-they would write down things I said and go off on each other. The poor kid who saw the profs next asked what I said and I never really said much. I guess seeing Marcel and Ryan has gotten me thinking...I apply it to art because that's my passion. Grad school turned me off to art (and its been a few years now). Since then I did performance art working in a factory that had an audience that didn't know or care.

What is going on in the art world?
Do you think in the case of art the viewer matters? Obviously (I'm learning) the viewer/inhabitor of a space in design is key.
How can you have art thats an object without craft?
I was slammed by certain profs for saying that taste matters and guides my choices...Any thoughts?

trixie said...

Ryan shows little evidence of being trained as an artist. I think that artists need to be skilled at what they do and they need to be informed about the traditions they are working in. (The issue of outsider or "primitive" or folk art is another matter). You can't break the rules without knowing them. Or knowing that its been done before. Early twentieth century avant garde artists have already made many of the statements that many artists today are just repeating over and over again. I'm a big fan of old school training.

As for graduate art school. I can imagine that in many places it is completely insufferable. I don't have good advice on how to find ones way through that world.

Anonymous said...

I guess I see art school as a symptom of the art/design world and its not that I didn't learn a great deal there because I did. My work is nothing earth shaking I admit. I don't know what if anything really is...

I do think it's a dialog that can be applied to the white room and the judges decisions.

The most interesting thing I saw from Ryan was him riding a BMX bike and leaving tracks on a ramp-it took his interests-was performance and will disappear after a rainy day. So I dug it. And it spoke to me of his art knowledge.

Painting-good painting I've been told is still alive. I guess you can't argue with a good painting.

Also land art seems alive, barely- I brought that inside to my non-audience at the factory- I guess someone noticed because my manager did ask me to stop scraping the wax off the floor(he was embarassed when the next shift came in early for overtime)- I was scraping designs-every few squares instead of every square-But it wasn't my job so they should have been happy-and if someone took it upon themselves to scrap the squares I didn't the floor would have been spotless....

As Trixie noted, artists are making the same statement over and over again-new art will be some kind of weird computer/DNA hybrid creatures that we hang on the wall as art?... I'll call it Goil for now- thank you for the discussion- I appreciate your thoughts best-s

lotusgreen said...

i stopped watching this show--i wasn't all that crazy about any of the people's work.

but geez--anyone who says something like 'that's not art--that's craft" has no understanding of either, not to mention art history. etc.

i am surrounded with vases from garage sales and thrift stores and they're from china, and it makes a difference in my life, their beauty, just as the pages from calendars that i frame.

are we not shaped, at least somewhat, by 'place'?

sadie pink said...

I'm trying really hard to give this show a chance. I find the the men all act like 12 year olds and the judges, a bunch of cold fish!

Ms. Place said...

Mmmm. I agree with Trixie. One must perfect one's art. I went to art school and I was not an artist. I studied art history, but my eye was untrained. If I had stopped my education after I received my college degrees, I would have very little to show for them.

But I visited museums and galleries with the love and passion of a connoiseur. When I lived in Boston I went to the BMFA every Wednesday for lunch, and to the Isabella Gardner Museum on Sundays just to soak in the lushness of that environment and to listen to the concerts. When I am in New York, I visit the museums and galleries as a matter of course. When I was in Paris, I went to the Louvre every day until I had my fill, and to the Picasso Museum, and Musee d'Orsay, and I cursed the gods for not giving me stronger legs so that I could see more.

Professors didn't train my eye; I trained my eye.

And when I painted for a living (and I was pedestrian at best) I worked at my craft daily, learning as much about technique as theory. I know my materials backwards and forwards. I know which colors and brands of materials are the best, and yes, I would spend $25 on one enormous sheet of hand made watercolor paper and $50 for a tiny tube of paint because as one becomes proficient in one's craft one insists on working with the best quality materials one can lay one's hands on.

I never once thought about my audience as I worked. There was a restlessness inside me as I tackled a painting. The dialogue was between me and that blank canvas. Sometimes I felt the muse take over. I had at my disposal all the benefits of my training, excellence of materials, and a compelling vision. At times I would feel the excitement of creation, and then I was impelled to continue until I was wrung dry. I have passion and respect for my fellow artists because there is nothing lonelier than the struggle. I detest blowhard artists who disdain the sincere efforts of others. Only a few are destined to be great. We minions must make do with our best efforts.

I am an artist but not a great one, but I am quite skilled at my craft. So skilled that I can teach it.

I don't know where this rant is going except to say that I am appalled at the lack of knowledge that exists among the young students at my university about culture and history in general. Only those individuals whose parents took a firm hand in teaching art, music, and culture have escaped the appalling laxness in our schools in teaching about our rich visual vocabulary.

Well, I've said enough. Trixie's blog inspires dialogue. Thank you, Anonymous, for starting the debate, and thank you Trixie for hosting.

Anonymous said...

Trixie, 'tho I don't comment often, I must tell you:

I luv ur blog.

I really do.

-- desertwind

PS - OT & way-late comment to your white Chucks/NYC - Chucks/Jack Purcells post:

Did you know Converse changed the color of their ol' reliable? "White" is no longer plain canvas, but strong olive tone. Grrr. I suppose they want to distinguish from their trendy new "Optical White".

Why mess with perfection? I hate when classics change.

End of OT rant. Carry on!

Anonymous said...

Trixie And Ms. Place

Thank you- both very much.