Saturday, December 31, 2005

Viva Art!

Well, I'd like to say something wise and memorable on this rainy last day of the year... but... I'm bloated from eating too much homemade chili and my backside is literally frying less than two feet from a roaring fire. It's a deadly combo. Nothing a few bottles of champagne, chocolate cake and some Beano can't cure. I've been watching Sarah prepare her application for UCLA's grad painting program. And it's got me thinking about art and how it lives in the world around us...

For starters, here's a hearty "Thanks, but no thanks!" to all the bad art I saw in 2005. There were some great moments (especially the "The First Annual LA Weekly Biennial"), but sadly even these could not escape being pulled under by the frantic and flailing arms of dumb, desperate, and omnipresent non-expression.

Art gets a bad rap. Maybe it deserves it, maybe not. It just seems horribly off-track to me (but in fairness, only as horribly off-track as so many other things). As cities and states and human populations have turned art into "Culture" (as well as "industry" and "currency") it has become very unfashionable, almost taboo, to question art, or to demand anything from it other than its own existence. It's a nice democratic ideal - let all art be seen as valid and let the cream rise to the top - but I don't think it's working out so well in practice. Maybe it's just a labeling problem: Abundant expression for all, yes, but please leave "Art" to the visionaries.

Like I said, the fire is frying me. This heat is stirring up a lot of vaguely negative notions... not so nice to end the year on. OK, reverse engines. Can we agree that at least some art should have the effect of carrying the human spirit forward? Forward to what? To where? I guess that's the point. Art that challenges and calls out the tired ideas that linger, art that trailblazes into the unknown, serves us all in ways we can not fathom. Make the metaphor good enough, trigger something deep that causes universal yearning, and human endeavor will follow. Interlocking waves of inspired pre-visualization and impeccable implementation. I call it the Star Trek effect. As in: Could NASA exist without Captain Kirk?

It now occurs to me that there's a great Eno speech that will resuscitate these chile con carne thoughts of mine. Read it here (scroll down the page to find it). And above all...

Happy New Year!


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