So I went to this Denver Raw: Artist showcase last night and I walked away discouraged. I thought it was going to be a lot cooler. It’s all local artwork shown in a bar downtown. I thought the bar was going to be cooler, I thought the layout was going to be better, and honestly, I thought the art would be better. And I don’t know if I am being too judgmental here. For example, there was one artist showcased who was a photographer…after talking to him for a couple minutes, he told me that he got into photography b/c he was a traveling trombonist and was seeing such pretty things that he wanted to take pictures and decided to share them. Well, okay. So why do they belong on walls and not in his scrapbook? There was nothing amazing about them, yeah he blurred some areas shaded some others, etc. And I’ve done the exact same things to photos I’ve taken, for example when I took some pregnancy photos of my sister-in-law, I manipulated them and all of that. But I just thought I was trying to do something cool for them and their memories…not art. Not something that should be posted on walls. I mean, he was taking pictures of something that nature produced…taking pictures of something already beautiful…he didn’t make it beautiful, it already was. So I’m discouraged about photography as an art form, especially in that realm, b/c who is the real artist here? The eye behind the camera, or what the camera is being pointed at…Ansel Adams, his photos are superb. Great quality great sharpness, etc…and people appreciate it b/c most of them won’t travel to the places to actually see what he saw…but is that really art? Does turning a nature scene into a black and white image really constitute art? Does having some naked chick dangle from a tree, snapping a photo of it, and calling it Nymph really count?
And then there was a graphic designer there…had a series of three owls. Not great, not complex, not really simple either but nothing that wouldn’t take me 30 minutes to reproduce. And the series just looked like the colors were changed and some lines slightly changed. Really? That’s being showcased? I’m so confused. He had one piece that resembled something artistically designy to me, but it didn’t look complete, and…I don’t know. I wasn’t super impressed. I walk into an album store and see tons of better design work than that…and the design work isn’t what’s being sold (although I am more likely to buy an album if I like the artwork than if I don’t) the music is being sold. How is designing one owl, changing the color so it’s three different owls constitute art? It’s super kitschy, doesn’t require a lot of vision or talent, and seemed insulting to me.
Thank goodness there was a downstairs…or else I would have been severely disappointed in the event. Actually, what I saw down there was equally disappointing, maybe even more so. The first “artist’s” work I saw looked like the art I did when I first started. Faces scribbled on paper in crayon with no real emotion or resemblance or anything but the suggestion of human figures in multitudes of colors. AND, they were hooked, sometimes by rubber bands, to tshirts. I drew a face for an Ani DiFranco album cover I did for design class my sophomore year. Well, a lot of it was terrible versions of that, but with the intention that that was complete. I at least took it into a program to further the idea, and it related to the album. This person just had about 20 faces that looked like were done with their left hand in maybe ten minutes each. W.T.F.F.? I mean seriously?
So those are just three examples. But I left that place pissed off at the Denver art scene. THAT’S what’s being showcased? Are we fools? Do people want culture and art so badly that all that has to be done is for someone to shoot a picture of a fire hydrant and blur the background, or scribble a face out of crayon, put it up in a bar, have some people call it a Denver Raw: Artist showcase and it become art? Do we not care about quality any more? Are we at a stage were everything is art therefore nothing is true art? It’s frustrating for the people who actually have talent. It’s harder for them to succeed and for their art to be appreciated b/c a casual doodle now can be bought for $120. Or is it even worse than that? Do people, because art is such an abstract, seemingly unquantifiable thing, not want to get into the real discussions of what art is and if it is good? Or, perhaps they don’t want to insult the artist. I feel like people flocked their for the culture and assimilated into the notion that what they were seeing was art. And that it was good. And that it was worth being showcased. A marketer called it art, so it was art, and people bowed down. It was pathetic.
And then that brings me to me. (haha, my selfish ass always has to bring it around to me.) How does this judgment, how does this opinion, affect me as an artist. If I think what I am seeing isn’t quality or is uninteresting, what is it about my work that I think people will like or appreciate. Is it even any good? I have always been hesitant to call myself an artist and I think the underlying reason is what I encountered last night. What makes my work better than what I saw? Well, to be honest, my art isn’t scribbles, it has depth and emotion and I think my skills are growing regularly. But that may be because it’s mine. Is my art better to be showcased. Kevin’s is, I think. And I understand that a lot of art is done for personal reasons. It’s cathartic, it’s fun, it can be a great hobby to hone into…but does that mean that just because you do art on the side, shoot a picture, scribble a face, that it is art worthy of showcasing? I don’t think my current art is worthy of showcasing but I think it was better than a lot of what I saw. Because of technology, because of social media and the idea that our generation is confused due to the affects of amalgamating dozens of previous decades, do we have lower quality expectations? Are we so sensitive and politically correct that we can’t tell someone, yeah, that’s a great personal art piece, but it’s not really showcasing worthy? I feel so confused and jaded right now about art. I don’t want to be. And maybe it’s more about the Denver art scene then art in and of itself. But I’m discouraged. I’ll continue creating my own art, b/c I do believe it provides me a channel for my emotions and for something for my mind to focus on, but I have shut down my facebook, twitter and feel stupid about even having a website and blog (although the website is more for career portfolio purposes.) I once was twitterpated, and now I’m jaded. Makes me sad.
It was a negative experience. But is it my perspective that made it negative? Am I a reject of past zeitgeist and can’t accept the current trends of my mercurial times?