So today is the day. The time of year we love to be scared, grossed out, and horrified is at its peak. But I must say that I’ve been feeling uneasy about something long before this year’s Halloween came around.
As October approached this year, I became aware that there is a frightening trend that is not confined to the autumn season but exists all year round. That unseen but very real troubling impression, my friends, is the intimidation and confusion that most people feel when they venture into the art world.
Perhaps you can identify with comedian Brian Regan as he fumbles through a fearful conversation about art.
I have to believe there’s a bit of truth here.
People are drawn to art because they see something that appeals to them, but a lot of the time there is a gap between seeing something we enjoy and understanding it, the process or even the person who has created the work and that tends to make people uncomfortable. We are afraid to ask.
Even as an artist I have felt this highbrowed distance that is created by beautiful but cold galleries, eccentric artists with even more eccentric lifestyles, titles that give no explanation, elitist curators or observers who use big words, talk about unfamiliar artists and art movements and seem to enjoy leaving the general public in a fog when it comes to art.
I resent this behavior because it pushes people away from art. I can feel it even as an artist and am aware when talking to seemingly cowering non-artists about art. I love to explain things and put them at ease about what they’re seeing. I enjoy telling a story behind why an artist painted a piece, what might be going on in their lives at the time, or why a certain painting is seen as important. I love to let them know that it’s okay that they don’t know a lot about art. This invites everyone to ask questions and learn.
I polled some of my Facebook fans to see if I was correct in my feelings and got a few interesting responses to the question, “Are you intimidated by the art world?”
“I guess I am a little intimidated but mostly because I have very very very little artistic ability”
“How do I know what is “good” art? Is it “bad” art just because it doesn’t appeal to me?”
“A lot of art seems to me to be the emperors new clothes. There isn’t really anything to it but there is a big deal made of it. If you don’t understand it it’s because you aren’t smart, or educated enough. Seems to me good art ought to be self evident.”
“I don’t “get” all of it, but I figure that’s ok”
“As a non-artist, I am always intimidated by the art world. Elitist mindsets prevent non-artists from experiencing what I believe was God’s unique intent for us to emulate (or watch someone else emulate) the most pure example of humankind relating to His Creation: ART! (Disclaimer: not every person is an elitist)”
Some who responded explained feeling intimidated after seeing art they found beautiful, but were told the artist’s technique is not so stellar . . . technique? What does that mean? Now we have a viewer who unfortunately will second guess their own opinion of what they enjoy.
Some felt that the art world sets up rules for what is acceptable art – sort of an elitist clique.
Personally, I feel there is room for compromise on both sides. I completely understand the non-artist who loves looking at art or is interested in it, however fears their opinion is incorrect, that they don’t know enough information, or it’s a world that they can never be a part of. However, at the same time, we who feel intimidated by certain aspects of art should still reach out for knowledge if there is a desire to enjoy art more.
Artists, museums and galleries, let’s be more open, friendly, inviting and informative to the general masses and you just might get more people walking through your doors.
If you fear the art world, don’t understand it or resent it, stick with me. I would love to be your guide to experiencing beautiful and thought provoking art. You will always find with me a desire to explain things so that they can be understood and enjoyed.
So pull out your flashlight, put the garlic around your neck, get out the wooden stake and your silver bullets, walk past the ghoulish display of elitism and come with me into the exhilarating world of art and fear no more!
Want more? Take some action.
•Contact me with any questions about art and I may just write a blog about it.
I have many plans for the future of this blog which include posts on the concerns and feelings specifically expressed by the quotes here, an easy to understand group of blogs on art history, a continued stream on my Facebook page of what I feel is beautiful, and my commitment to make you feel completely comfortable where you’re at while pushing you to learn and experience more. Stay tuned here and on Facebook to beautify your life.