No But Really, Re: Art

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I was happily taken to the Asian Art Museum in SF for my birthday, the galleries of which are designed in a sort of “walk through the ages/countries” order of exhibits.

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There were countless examples of creations in stone, metal, jade, ink, wood, paint, enlivening textiles, furniture, sculptures, architecture, portraits, hundred foot documentation scrolls, jewelry, toys, little boxes, and more. And as we walked through these exhibits, we saw cultures having so few tools but creating the most elaborate works, all requiring immense focus, style, precision, and time.

And as we walked through this exhibit, we skipped through time and watched as the tools grew more complex and the intricacies

2014-1-5-DSC_2028and novelties dwindled. This decline really only showed itself in the last couple exhibits. Walking into the local artists’ exhibit of modern day was a cartoonish screeching halt to my clunky journey’s brakes. The mixed media assortment of repeating neon-colors video and white-on-white painting was exactly what I expected to find, but it almost seemed like someone set it up juxtaposing the rest of the galleries as a joke. I actually had to wrestle the corners of my mouth down to avoid laughing once I realized it was serious.

 

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2014-1-5-DSC_2048Now, I’m not trying to say that we no longer can make impressive art because we have fancy tools and things come easier these days, or just, differently. For instance, I used photo editing software on some of these if I thought they could be mildly improved and that’s something I still have to come to terms with in reaction to my innate feelings that such behavior is “cheating” or fake in some ways. Goodness knows, the tools Pixar animators use are practically magical for how advanced they are, but if you gave some them to someone untalented in that regards, it’d be like asking a baby to recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or some other example of a gap in understanding.

2014-1-5-DSC_2054My personal issue with creating some form of art has always been me essentially drowning myself in the idea that everything needs to be drenched with meaning and if my creation doesn’t have something not just meaningful but also entirely new, then I’ve failed in some way. I’ve noticed this underlying feeling with a lot of people interested in art during this time. I’m fairly certain the need to be new and meaningful is part of what exploded the last exhibit into neon lacquer that flew at me fast but slid right off my eyeballs with no affect beyond making me rub them a bit in disbelief.

And yes, meaning can be…meaningful? But I see the art of mastering a trade has dwindled, and I think we could find a happy medium in myriad mediums of craftsmanship and purpose. I’m sure these two needs will continue to be at war within me and others, but this look at the adjacent styles has really made me look at what I do and what I want to do, and as “well-rounded” as I’ve heard I am, I think it’s time to stop half-assing many an art and hobby. I’ve got to pick something and go or I’ll never get anywhere.

~~~*EPILOGUE*~~~

On the BART ride  however, we stumbled into the “Flat Broke Puppet Show”–a masterpiece in its own way. This made me react completely uniquely to any of the intricately designed, days-to-years-requiring masterpieces that had turned my head in the museum, and it made me stumble over all the laments I’d been repeating sadly to myself just moments prior. So, like, grains of salt and stuff. Eat ‘em.

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