September 24, 2021 Weekly Musings

Christine Alfery

Posted on September 24 2021

September 24, 2021 Weekly Musings


"Inspiration" Accepted Into Art Show

"Inspiration" has been accepted into the Juried Trinity Art Show with Juror, Fr. Michael Tang, Professor of Art and Art History, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

This year's theme is from Jeremiah 30:17. "I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord."

The Exhibition will be displayed in the Sparrow Gallery from Oct. 9- Nov 5, 2021. Sacramento, CA


Artist's Statement:
Isolating parts of reality is abstraction. Then expanding upon this isolated part, is when I begin to create a concept that will be the idea behind my work. By isolating a small part of reality and helping it grow into something wonderfully remixed and unique is what my art is all about. Its uniqueness comes from my personal expression, my individualism that I weave into the work as I paint it. This uniqueness, this one of a kind thing, this not one size fits all is how I define my work my technique/style conceptual abstraction. It is I sincerely believe how God created all things, including how we heal our wounds and restore our health, through each of us as unique individuals and the work we do in His world.


"Just Walk Away" Accepted into ISEA Exhibition

Just Walk Away was accepted into the juried ISEA, International Society of Experimental Artists, exhibition. Three distinguished jurors, Liz Ahrens, Neil Ahrens and Brian Schorn were the distinguished jurors who juried this exhibition. The work is displayed at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island in Michigan and will be on display until the end of October.


Is Art Dead Today?

Featured image: Downy

Today the words and the idea behind, "art and artist" are changing. This is not new to our times. Art history is full of shifts and changes in how art is understood and created. Art history’s changes are documented in art movements such as classical, the renaissance, impressionism, art deco, abstract expressionism, expressionism and modern art, to list only a few. 

Art historians document the changes in media, subject matter and technique. Since I decided to be an artist, which was at the end of abstract expressionism and movement into the modern, what attracted me about the idea of art was the values and concepts linked to art and how those concepts were illusive and very difficult to define. Art appeared during this time to resist control and a system of rules. If a work broke the rules, then it seemed that it automatically would be classified as good art. The shocking and new became major terms defining art. Making art was all about breaking the rules and thinking differently.

Thinking this way is what defined the 60’s and art, along with cultural, social and moral values were challenged. Texts wrote about these challenges and visual artists created work that historically documented the times. Artists like DuChamp and Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns created works that questioned mass production and modernism. A main feature of modernism was the debate between public and private, individualism and collective thinking. Examples of collective thinking included, electric ovens, mix masters, hair dryers, toasters. Everyone seemed to want to modernize their way of living and thinking. This collective thinking had an interesting twist. While individuals thought that they were personally improving their lives by getting the best and newest improved whatever, what actually happened was that the individuals no longer became unique and independent. Rather they now had to keep up with the Jones or others folks on their block.

The new and improved, while helping the individual, made the individual like everyone else. It was easy to follow the herd. Slowly, gradually the individual and the concepts and values that made an individual, independent unique and one-of-a-kind disappeared It was hard to differentiate one person from another. This is still going on today, and it is going on in the visual arts.

The concepts of artist and art are dying because the concepts and ideas of the individual are getting buried underneath the collective of what’s new and popular and what colors are trendy and what matches. Concepts that define the individual have gotten lost in the pursuit of equality in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Equality, which is another word that has been turned upside down, no longer is the individual in charge of their life, their liberties and the pursuit of happiness, but the collective determining what is equal.

If I apply this type of thinking to art, no longer is the artist in charge of the work that they create but the collective is in charge of their work. And what DuChamp and Rauschenbery and Johns were protesting against is exactly what happened to the concept of art. The idea of uniqueness, and one-of-a-kindness are slowly slowly disappearing when it comes to discussing what art is. The work that I would call wall decor, is being mass produced and still being accepted as being "art." It seems no longer does the concept of “art” represent uniqueness and originality.

Art as it was known is dying, and it is a huge loss for our culture and society.


My Red Umbrella

Featured image: Under My Red Umbrella

Sitting under my red umbrella in my Adirondack chair I watch as the wind carries sheets of rain gently pass the gardens and into the woods. The wind and rain twist and play with the leaves and branches in the woods. Pines, birch, maple and oak are all changing the green colors of the leaves as they twist and turn with the wind, making them darker lights, the raindrops fall.

My red umbrella creates a cocoon around me, keeping me dry – sheltered. I imagine "self" that way. I imagine it under a red umbrella, as I protect it from so many who wish to destroy my uniqueness and individuality by telling me that I don’t need the red umbrella, they will shelter me. Ah, but I do need that red umbrella , for it is mine, and I choose it.


Subjectivity and Objectivity in Art

Featured image: Azure Winged Dragonfly

When we say, "This artwork is good," whose good is it? It's an Important question, for it asks if there is an agenda tagged to this concept of good?
Is it the good of an individual? Then, we understand that it is subjective.
Is it the good of another? We also understand this but then the question changes. Is it subjective or objective? Is there an ideology attached to this concept of good?

Is the good based in the reasonable concept of reality or is it a good based on an individual’s subjectivity?

It is an important question because many who are involved in the arts believe that if the art is subjective, then the "good' is also subjective. As many know that art can change how we see and understand reality. It can change how we experience reality, how we categorize reality and how we feel about reality – and if reality is subjective. I just don’t see reality as subjective. It is a serious question and I choose that reality is objective, not subjective.

Because my opinion of how I think reality is understood as objective, – is it possible that art, both good art, and bad art, to be objective and not subjective. If it possible, then the classification of good art, and bad art is objective and not subjective, how does this work?

Well, reality as I understand it cannot be invented. Inventions tend to be subjective, whereas discovery, is based on objectivity and multiple observations of the same reality in different places – as the methods of science attest to.

So, can the value of art as good or bad also be objective? What would that look like? Art educators, for as long as I know, have been teaching the elements and principles of art. The 7 principles of art and design are balance, rhythm, pattern, emphasis, contrast, unity and movement. Use the elements of art and design – line, shape/form, space, value, color and texture – to create a composition as a whole. The elements of art and design are the tools of visual artists. These elements and principles can be objective. Good art and bad art can be objective.

I do not believe art should be objectively ruled by these elements and principles. For example, coloring outside of the lines has nothing to do with any of the elements and principles. Using a new media has nothing to do with using these elements and principles, good art or bad art, and even a work of art that perhaps enlists all the elements and principles, can be bad art. Or it can be labeled as good art even though no one likes it. For me, an excellent example of this is all of the techne artists, mainly realists who create photo realistic work that enlists all the elements and principles of art. It is, perhaps, bad art. Why? Well, along with all these objective rules, art needs to be original, unique one-of-a-kind. To do that, the uniqueness, originality and individuality comes from the artist's style, and how they make a mark. Art has never been simulacra. Art is never a copy of something else. Art has always been one-of-a-kind. That is the icing on the cake for me.

The objectivity here is to be able to recognize the uniqueness and the one-of-a-kindness in the work, while at the same time, recognizing that the composition has been objectively executed by using the elements and principles.

When you ask the question, "Is this good art or is this bad art?"– you can recognize who benefits from the statement – this is good or bad art? If the benefactor is subjective not objective, then I believe we must question the motives involved in these evaluations.

One last example, within the last couple of years I know an individual who feels very competitive towards me and my work. I have no idea why – but it is what it is. The story I want to share is this – he with a friend walked by me when I was setting a new exhibition at the Howard Young Art Gallery – and he loudly told his friend, I can’t stand abstract art, it was obvious to me that he identified my work as abstract. Who benefited from this comment? I dismissed it – but it made him feel good – and he there benefited. This isn’t what determines good or bad art – rather it was one person feeling powerful as he made the comment loudly as he passed me.

Good and bad art can be objective. Getting to that point will take a long time as the subjectivity in art of art has been taught and retaught for years in art education.


What is Your Outlook on Life?

Featured image: All Dressed Up - Hummer

What is your outlook on life? What do you believe is the purpose of your life, your reason for living?

The philosophy of metaphysics studies your being, your sense of being and who you are. It studies your identity or identities. Metaphysics studies change and how change effects your outlook regarding your purpose. It studies the nature of things, including your reason for living, your behaviors, your purpose for your life and your outlook on life, your view of life, your sense of life. Is there a sense of wonder in your sense of life?

Your sense of life is who you are. It includes your sense of self and how you deal with things, it includes your values, ethics and morals. Your view of life is how you understand life in general and life as a whole.

It is an artist’s view of sense of life that is integrated into their work. It effects their choices for their work and what to put into their work. It is an artist’s sense of life that becomes their style. It is the artist's sense of life that a viewer relates to when they get involved in an artist’s work, be it good or bad. The key thing here is that a sense of life should be unique, on- of-a-kind and individual, not someone else’s view of life.

It makes sense that your sense of life, your nature, your judgements and how you relate to just plain existing. Are you rational or irrational? Do you shoot from the hip and make judgements quickly? Do you allow yourself to be controlled and governed by others unknowingly? I say unknowingly because most folks would say that they aren’t controlled by another. However, when they closely examine their life, they are in fact, controlled and governed by another, by others.

My sense of life, my reason for living includes my values, my ethics and my morals. It includes my sense of freedom. I examine carefully what I commit to and always ask the question, "Who benefits from my action here?" I believe in the statement, “One reaps what they sow?” If we are controlled or governed by others, then we are unable to reap anything, because we sow what they want us to sow. And the very act of not reaping something effects our outlook on life and our sense of life. It effects our values, our morals, our judgements and our freedoms. It effects our unique self.

Life has its ups and downs, but one’s outlook on life, one’s sense of life should not be effected by either if we continually ask, "Are we reaping what we sow?" Who benefits? If you do not reap what you sow, yet you find yourself sowing for others a lot, ask yourself why are you doing that? What is your sense of life?
When you are sowing, are you including your values, your ethics, your morals and what you believe to be right? If not, who are you sowing for? And are you still free?


The Zig and Zag

Featured image: Suspension Bridge

I have learned as an artist that the my journey and the journey of the progress of my work is not a straight line but a zig zaggy line filled with detours and wrong paths taken, and struggles.

I have learned as an artist that there are bridges that I will cross and learn from. I understand these bridges as historical. They allow us to travel from one year to the next, carrying the ideas and concepts from the past into the present and then into the future. Carrying the story forward is what the journey is all about.

This journey, down zig zaggy paths, and across bridges enriches my sense of life. And my sense of life should be visible in all my works more. Unfortunately, if it is not, for me that work is a failure. If the viewer cannot see my sense of life in the work then I have again failed. Generally, a viewer who becomes completely enchanted with a work has a sense of life similar to mine. If there is no sense of life in an artwork it probably is because it is simulacra. An artist's and viewer's sense of life becomes mixed with their past and is carried into the present.

A sense of life is not just within individuals, but it should also ooze from cultures and social structures. If there is no sense of life in a culture or in a social structure then that culture or that social structure like a work of art has failed. A sense of life is constantly in motion, constantly moving and always changing. Art is in constant motion, always moving, always changing. As the artist changes, and if this change causes them to loose their sense of life then it fails – same is true for culture and social structures. If as cultures and social structures travel down the zig zaggy path and across many bridges, if they loose their sense of life, then these cultures, these social structures will fail.

A sense of life should always be like the wind dancing with the tress and leaves, moving and swaying. It should be a dance of love. Art today seems to be loosing its sense of life, as are artists. I find that very sad.


Sustaining Life

Featured image: Hummer III

To sustain life requires both body and mind. Both are also needed to create. The body creates what the mind thinks. To choose not to think is choosing not to create and an artist then merely imitates and repeats.

For example, yesterday a section of a large work just wasn’t working for me. So, I choose not to think about it and to fix it the same old way I have always fixed problems with a work. Since I didn’t like that, I did something completely contrary to everything and completely different. I erased that part of the work. What I uncovered was beautiful, and I loved finding another method that allowed for something fresh and new to happen.


Defining the Times

Featured image: Hummer IV

How art is defined and known is through philosophy. The historical period of time and the philosophy of the time is what causes the art within that period to become known and defined.

So, what does the 21st century’s art say about us?

Personally, I know what it is not saying. It does not tell us and define what the 21st century is.

Today, there is very little value in the art object. It has no morality and no ethics in regard to how folks in this century are living. There is no yearning to move forward with things from the past. There's no wobbly paths taken and recorded; everything happens in crisp straight lines. There's no curiosity, only an “I need the right answer” philosophy when there could instead, be many answers to a single problem. No creativity. No fine wine, just happy meals.

Granted, there are some works of art that the above doesn’t hold true, but only a few, and it has always been the many and the popular that seems to define the times.



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