March 12, 2021 Weekly Musings

Christine Alfery

Posted on March 12 2021

March 12, 2021 Weekly Musings

The Middle Is Anything But Grey, 20x60 

March 8, 2021

I just finished framing and mounting this piece. And hung it in my front entry. Must say I am impressed. It looks very good there so I thought I would share it with you all. The Middle Is Anything But Grey, 20x60

I didn't think I would have this piece done in time for the CVA but "wa la" - I did. You can see the largeness of this work and the wow-ness of this work when it is hanging in the CVA Independent Spirits Exhibition from March 12th- May 7th.

CLICK HERE to learn more.



Featured image: How Do I Get There?


March 9, 2021

Object Culture Part XV Is Anything Art?

Where did the idea/concept start that all things can be called art?

For me the work of artist Andy Warhol, is a good place to start. Many begin with the work of Marcel DuChamp and his conceptual break down between fine art and every day objects. DuChamps works, Fountain done in 1917, The Bicycle Wheel 1913, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors 1923 and Bottle Rack 1914 are several of Duchamp’s works that have been discussed and linked to this breakdown.

Fast forward to the work of Andy Warhol who was a major pop art artist in the 60’s. Andy Warhol's conceptual work contributed to this breakdown, collapsing even more of the boundaries between high and low cultural works.
Warhol’s work was noted for capturing the 60’s era which included mass marketing and the desire to acquire the new and better. The production of plastic became part of acquiring objects. Acquiring objects was an end in itself and Andy Warhol’s work captured this.

Cultural objects became sources of power and symbols of status: soup in a can, soda in a bottle, blonde hair color and text as art to list a few. Not only was Warhol recording time, his time, but Warhol also captured the heart of the art culture; breaking rules, breaking boundaries, changing boundaries were all part of the game. And if artwork did any of these things, they became icons of the time. For Pop Art artists, anything could be art and anything *was* art. Pop Art infiltrated the lives of the society so deeply that we can still feel its strong presence today.

Back when DuChamp first began the discussion was the time of Abstract Expressionism. During this time, thoughts and emotions and perceptions were expressed through a kind of imagery that was practically incomprehensible as it highly subjective. Yes, it offered an entire array of interpretations and “new” ideas for art and ways of thinking about art. Subjectivity in a work of art became an accepted norm for how art was understood. And the abstract expressionists made a viewer feel “ok” while placing their subjectivity onto the object they created. DuChamp challenged this way of thinking with objects from our daily routine, popular culture elements. Television and advertising entertainment, the cult of celebrities, comic books, interior and product design, newspapers and magazines - all of them got a whole new meaning with Pop art.

When we fast forward again, we can still find artists breaking these boundaries or asking these same questions. Jeff Koons comes to mind with his works: Rabbit 1986, Puppy, Balloon Dog, Michael Jackson and Monkey 1988, Seated Ballerina 2017 and Play-Doh 1994, to list a few. Many of these objects were inflatable which amplified the fact that they were temporary, not permanent, and would not last the test of time.

There are many artists today who still repeat the cultural themes that these artists put into place, such as: breaking the rules, the new, conceptual work that is critical of values of current times. Recently, the MET had a featured exhibition in 2019 titled “Camp.” It was the Costume Institute's spring 2019 exhibition that, according to Max Hollein, Director of the Met, “explored the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic influence in mainstream culture.”

“Camp’s disruptive nature and subversion of modern aesthetic values has often been trivialized” according to Hollein, “ but this exhibition reveals that it has had a profound influence on both high art and popular culture. … The show embodies the ironic sensibilities of the audacious style, challenges and conventional understandings of beauty and taste, and establishes the critical role that this important genre has played in the history of art and fashion.”

It is the marketing aspect of a cultural object that grabs my attention. Marketing art through “established” cultural norms, which today appear to be trendy, or kitsch and are being called “art” because they are “breaking the rules,” and conceptually pointing out ,which in many cases, artists believe are the wrong values for our times.

To understand what art is today and the value it has, one needs to think about the art object. Should the object be called art ? Where is it art ? Or is it merely a cultural object and the subjectivity within the art object? If so, it indeed is an art object, itself.

So what give an object its power to be called art and not kitsch or a cultural object of art that is a critique of the present?

Simple. It's the creativity, the self/soul or the artist, its independence, uniqueness, originality and one-of-a-kindness. Looking at the METs exhibition “Camp,” it is easy to see the progression from creativity, to kitsch. An object needs to have its own power, not the power of another to be “art.” And that power comes from its creator and its creativity.



Featured image: Colors in the Middle

March 10, 2021

Object Culture Part XVI Creativity and Art

The power of art lies in creativity. How an artist rearranges combinations of “real” or “natural” or “existing” elements in a unique way is the only creative power that an artist possesses. It is an enormous power and a glorious power. It is the only meaning of the concept creative. Artists cannot create something from nothing.
I used to think that I could approach a blank sheet of paper or a blank canvas and “invent/create” something on that canvas that had never existed before. I was actually taught that in college, to set my mind free, think of nothing and just do something. I have heard artists today, in fact I myself have said it in the past, "I don’t have a preconceived idea when I begin to paint. I just begin painting." Jackson Pollack’s work is centered on that idea. But, you cannot create something from nothing. You just can’t. So while you think you are coming from nothing, you aren’t. There is always something there when an artist approaches that blank canvas or paper. 

It is just impossible to perceive something that isn’t something. This logic has been around for a long time. A is A. How do I know A is A? In order for you to even perceive that A is A, you need to be aware that it exists. If you are not aware that it exists, it is impossible for you to perceive A. A cannot think itself, unless A exists. Think about this…. You cannot think A is A unless you think it. If you think you are thinking of nothing when you approach a blank canvas – you are not, because you can’t even think you are thinking nothing without thinking something. It is the old philosophical theory, "if a tree falls in the woods will it be heard?"

Anyway, it's fun logic. The scary thing is that many of us were taught that very thing to clear our minds, make them a blank slate and allow things to happen – there is never a blank slate.

By absorbing that teaching we lost the power to be creative. To create means that the artist has the power to bring into existence an arrangement of elements that had previously not existed, in that particular way. So, an artist can never copy what another artist does because they aren’t approaching a blank slate. The very idea that they are copying means the slate isn’t blank. But, then, they also cannot copy exactly because they aren’t that artist. When Pollock did this for the first time he was being creative. He created by rearranging ideas, concepts and elements of what was his history and put them together in a “different” way. After the first one was created, which could be considered “art” as it was new and unique, rearranged with a “different” way of thinking about something, but with his variations of the same technique over and over again they lost their power. They lost their uniqueness, their one-of-a-kindness, their creativity, there artiness. That is why I have always emphasized that art is something unique and one of a kind, individualized like the self and the soul are.

But, this fact doesn’t only exist in the arts, it exists in science, also. Our creative imaginings are just the rearranging of things into something different and unique. The power of the concept of art is creativity.

The interesting thing about this is that when an artist or a scientist chooses to “think differently” and rearrange something according to how they visualize something could work, this rearranging is not common. The artist or scientist, if they truly are an artist, do not create common things. The very idea that they rearranged the common to make it uncommon is what makes it unique and original. , Their great creations often are not accepted by others. Their creations are opposed to and often rejected.

In researching that fact, I found that when the first motor was invented, it was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible and anesthesia was sinful. There are many others. All of our great thinkers felt rejection. I think of Edison, Jobs, Wozniak, The Beatles and the list goes on and on. But artists, true artists, and scientists forged ahead anyway. And, many did not feel they needed to serve others because those others simply rejected them. They were rejected because they disturbed the norm.

So, don’t give up the power of creativity, thinking you can create something from nothing because you can’t. And don’t give up the power of creativity because you visualize something differently than others. There are others who have taken the same path.

The most important thing is to stay true to yourself, your soul and create to your hearts delight.




Featured image: Peaches

March 11, 2021

Aesthetic Moment Magical Light

Slowly, slowly the mist from the furnace drifted across the horizon.

When it hit the sunbeam of the not seen rising sun, it was transformed.

Into a glorious light, glowing.

For the first time today, the sun rose over the hilltop before I finished my morning coffee. I watched until it did.

I watched the mist grow brighter and brighter as I silently anticipated the magical light.

Of the sun rising.

More Posts