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Good art, a definition, with more questions, Part Deux

As I was waiting to get out of Tire Warehouse’s parking lot, I scribbled a few notes to myself to add to this conversation.

First of all, I think a big consideration in how work is discussed begins with why it was created in the first place. If the intent is just to allow the maker a mode of expression for whatever reason, I don’t think a question of quality, relevance, etc. really need to even be part of the program. I applaud anyone who makes anything just for the sheer joy, peace, cathartic release, etc. that art-making most certainly gives the creator.

Most of the people I am referring to in these groups are not solely creating to create. Bigger statements are being made that usually include a planned price tag, a venue or hopes for one, and all the professional/business stuff that goes into this, as well. I solidly fall into this group-solidly-even though I make pieces that are really personal, too. Those stay at home when I am sharing work with groups.

And, we all make stuff for sale and that is strictly its purpose. I am going to cross a somewhat debatable line and call this merchandise, not art. If the purpose for a piece is solely to be a money-maker, I feel that compromises have been made, and the emotion that goes into the creation was probably not there. Been there, too.

I know people also who have developed saleable formulas, and create work that fits in that formula, sometimes repeating a palette over numerous pieces. This formulaic, no thought, no emotion production is what I call “hack”.

A type of art that I don’t see as fitting “hack” ¬†are images/themes that seem to be repeated by many artists. The same subject obviously is moving more than just one person-that doesn’t dilute the importance of a piece. This can be misunderstood by some as only done to produce a sale. Let’s face it, many people really love florals as their subject, for example, and that does not make them a “hack”.

So, once determining the purpose of the work, where do we draw the line on how precisely those of us who have the academic jargon and knowledge go in our critique? How fair would that be? And, how do I know what will even make sense to someone without formal training?

I personally think these kinds of meetings should help those participating grow artistically. I might be jaded, but I am seeing little in really useful observations in those that I belong to, at present. Granted, we all work in this vacuum that sometimes includes whirlwinds of self-doubting thoughts, and it is nice to hear accolades. Those of us who have not seen a classroom as a student for eons may actually revel in constructive criticism and suggestions, too, rather than being told that our “colors sing”.

But, all of this aside, what makes a good piece of art, when it is made as art? Who determines that? When do you know as an artist that you have a solid concept, that you have executed it in a way that visually demonstrated it, and the application of you medium is appropriate to all of the above ? Shouldn’t this also be part of these group discussions? Or am I getting too academic?