Sunday, November 02, 2008


One of the perks of getting to work in the studio early in the morning is the chance to see a magnificent sunrise when it happens. This morning was not only one of those chances to see a magnificent sunrise but to experience something reminiscent of the "Twilight Zone".

I usually start the morning with a look at the e-mails and this was no exception. I was sitting at the computer, reading an e-mail at 7:15 AM when I heard a rapping on the door (or maybe it was on the window, now I'm not exactly sure... the door is metal and the knocker makes a hard sound). I thought it was strange because friends don't usually show up that early without calling first and my wife usually comes right in without knocking. I turned around and walked toward the door and through the window I saw the most magnificent sunrise I think I've ever seen. I had no idea this sunrise was happening because it had been dark and there had only been a slight hint of dawn when I entered the studio. I remember thinking that whomever was knocking wanted me to see this beautiful sight. When I opened the door nobody was there, just the neighbor's cat. I went into the house, which was still dark and quiet, and tip-toed to the bedroom. The bedroom door was still closed, as I had closed it before taking a shower, and my wife appeared to still be sleeping. So I got my camera from a drawer and took a couple of pictures of the sunrise. When I went back into the studio and sat down at the computer to download the pictures, the knocking happened again. I opened the door and again... there was just the cat. I called out, "Hello! Anyone there?" but there was no response. I looked over the fence (the gate had not been unlatched) and walked to both sides of the studio and saw nobody. There wasn't a breath of wind this morning and the cat wasn't able to reach the door knocker, so those were ruled out. I went back to the computer and sat down and in a minute there was another knock. I didn't turn around this time but just said "Come in!". Nobody came in. Later, when my wife was up and we were having breakfast, I tried to see if she had somehow been the one who knocked on the studio. She swears it wasn't her. Whoever it was, real, imagined or supernatural, I'm grateful for the heads-up to see that sunrise.

NOTE: Dear reader, if you were the one who knocked this morning... thank you! And when we meet again, don't say anything about it. I want to pretend there really is a "Twilight Zone".

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Narrowness of Mind

While searching for something on the Internet the other day, I stumbled (tripped is more descriptive) across a website of an organization called Art Renewal Center or ARC for short... I paused to browse and read a little bit and what I saw in this ARC site was the most bizarre attitude about art I have ever come across. I can't believe that an institution, which claims to include education as one of its mission statements, would spout such hateful vitriolic venom about some styles of art. There is an article on one of the pages by a man named Fred Ross who appears to be the originator of this organization. In this article he attacks various movements of art, which have gone in directions other than the realist movements he admires. His attacks are reminiscent of conservative, evangelical fundamentalist religions who believe they are right and everyone else in the world is wrong.

As anyone who knows my work or visits my website can see, I work with subject matter and I frequently use life or photographic references as a source for images. I am an advocate of the basic fundamentals of design and believe drawing from life to be an important asset in education. I am amused and confused by "art-speak" and the language of some contemporary art reviewers. All of which should indicate that I am not critical of ARC's support of realism. What astounds me, however, is the fear evident in the text of this ARC website. It's as if ARC and the authors on the site are afraid that, somehow, abstract art or any form of art which is not realist-based is threatening them and their artistic tastes. There are even three or four sections devoted to a vicious attack on the work of David Hockney, to an extreme which would suggest that ARC is declaring a fatwa and sees Hockney as their Salman Rushdie.

ARC appears to believe there is an organized and coordinated conspiracy on the part of non-realistic visual artists to eliminate any form of visual art prior to 1800. The only visual art acceptable to ARC is that which "represents" something three dimentional and in a very limited style. The painter, René Magritte explained this situation in his painting of a pipe, titled "La Trahison des Images", which, in English means "The Treason of Images". The inscription below the pipe on Magritte's canvas translates to "This is not a pipe". The message to ARC here is that a painting is paint on canvas, not a pipe or a person, or a landscape.

There's plenty of room in the world for all directions of artistic expression to exist and thrive without the need to resort to evangelical attacks against "non-believers". Just as there is room in the world for different religious and political beliefs. It would be a very boring world indeed if everyone thought and acted the same way. It has always seemed to me that when someone has to launch a personal attack against someone else for the way that other person believes, lives or behaves, the attacker is very insecure.

Lighten up, ARC! The "aliens" have landed, learn to live with them!