Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Don't Know Art, But I Know What He Likes

Is there meaning in Art?

Does art have to be meaning-ful to be ‘real’?

Can one appreciate art without knowing what it means?

Is My art meaningful? 

These are the burning questions that percolate through the minds of art aficionados who circulate through galleries, museums, academic art departments and auction houses, and the reasons seasoned professors, art historians, appraisers, critics, gallery owners, and (if they have permission) regular people categorize art according to period, genre, and pedigree – and of course, value, however that elusive quality is defined and measured within the discussion.
Most important to me, of course, is whether my art has value. 

At least it should be important to me, and certainly would be if I were to believe the seasoned professors, art historians, appraisers, critics, and gallery owners who have routinely rejected it from serious consideration.

Fortunately, I don’t. But that doesn't mean my art isn't meaningful. I know this because I have given my permission to regular people to do the evaluation, the interpretation, the appraisal and the criticism for me. In thirty years of continuous consultation, they have yet to fail me.

Is my art meaningful? 


I know that my drawings have meaning in a variety of contexts, some my own, many more from my various audiences. For me they are fun, entertaining, and deeply satisfying on any number of aesthetic and intellectual levels. This is not merely an advertisement for my work; were it not for these qualities, I would not have left a promising, prestigious career to pursue this tenuous alternative calling.

These drawings constitute a blatant act 
of academic and social sedition.

My audience(s) also find these works entertaining, from, I have heard, humorous, historical, intellectual, traditional, and technical standpoints. One or more of these reasons explains why people give me money for my work product, and encouragement to continue producing.

On a very real level, I also view my humorous drawings as a form of therapy - for myself of course, but also (again from numerous reports and direct experiences over the years) for my clients and customers, and for the ultimate recipients of the images as gifts and honoraria. These pictures somehow have the capacity to make people feel better. For this reason, I believe I am not stepping beyond the bounds of propriety to say that they are in part an extension of my prior near-career in medicine.
Thinking and smiling are 
all but forbidden in our society.

More important than that, these silly drawings constitute a blatant act of academic and social sedition. Hidden within a tightly controlled, semi-realistic style of composite imagery, one finds not just opportunities, but reasons to smile, and often laugh out loud. 

Thinking and smiling, together and at the same time, are all but forbidden in our society. We are generally obliged to do one or the other. We ponder when things are serious, laugh when things are superficial and inconsequential. We think when we are challenged, smile when we are safe.

The confluence of mirth and conscious cognition occurs only rarely, as in certain forms of comedy, puns or insightful one-liners, the occasional tongue-in-cheek editorial or the fleeting humorous criticism of a late night talk show host. In these instances, the material and the message are often dark and political, and tend to cause our thoughts to frown while our faces grin.

The practice of thinking and smiling on the way to making new, positive connections is something all too lacking in our experience. My work serves in some small way to remedy that.

Having fun while learning, playing with the process of making new connections, this is the very definition of creativity. This is what I have to share, through my artwork, with those who care to recognize, and appreciate it.

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