It’s Okay To Not “Get” Art

“Gallery Ladies” by Roy Zalesky

Vice’s Glen Coco earns my respect for his honesty. In one of his articles, he visited a rather pretentious-feeling gallery in London and mocked every work on display, only to attract a British art student named Alex who felt the need to “explain” the works to him. (Somehow Alex missed the part of the article that revealed Glen was a fellow art student.) Alex’s response confirmed the fallacies Glen suggested in the initial article: that true art is deep, only fake art is popular, and if you don’t already know what the artist was thinking, then you are a moron.

In this day of an ever impending idiocracy, I am aware of the growing population of proud ignoramuses, but this is not the case. Let’s take a scenario I’ve seen too often: Someone whose upbringing had limited their access or encouragement of pursuing arts until now, yet they decide to attend an art gallery to expand their interests. Said individual tries to break the ice with more cultured patrons in an effort learn more. They inadvertently say something that reveals their lack of education, only to be stealthily mocked by the more educated patrons. Humiliated, they never return to the museum again. Like a library, a museum is one of the few centers of free thought left. There is no place for snobbery and caste behavior. Every expression of “I don’t get it” is as valid as every overanalysis that goes over the former’s heads.

This example does not mean laymen are blame-free or that Art communities are fully responsible. There are mutual misunderstandings that are resolvable.

Part 1: Misconceptions from the laymen

Honestly, the one aspect of a lot of art can be explained in the historical context of certain works, which anyone can learn in a lecture, a community college class, or online on Khan Academy. Obviously, Art has evolved over time and due to this nature many works suffer from the “Simpsons is not funny” phenomenon. For an example, Jackson Pollock’s works were so groundbreaking because they were the first of their kind. Today, like the Simpsons in a 2010 television landscape, Pollock’s studies now get lost in the sea of works that have been influenced by his own. Naturally, anyone jaded by the influences would find the original just as awful without context. The Art people have the most issue with Contemporary Art is a result of everything that has come and gone in the last 400 years.

     Most contemporary pieces require explanation due to their overly symbolic and intra-referential nature. That’s where the Artist’s Statement comes in. Though it should be noted that a part of art’s subjectiveness lies in the fact that many interpretations are developed from one work. Some gain no interpretation at all. Unless the artist had a specific message in mind, no person is more right than the other.

Part 2: Misconceptions from the Artists

Based on his analyses, what Alex does not seems to think all artworks automatically come with a message, which is far from the truth. There are a lot of appreciated artists throughout history who created works that had no political or social message. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Tamara De Lempicka are two favorite examples of mine. The strangest thing is while the former is often praised by art professors, the latter is shunned. Interestingly, De Lempicka still gets her works reproduced onto towels and tote bags like Lautrec all the same. What makes him more legitimate in the art world than her?

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Alcoholic? Check! Died young? Check! Died penniless? Nope. Guess he’s only 2/3rds of a “true” artist!

On a grander scale, a lot of people get their impression of the art world from the what wealthy art committees present. Throughout history, these trend-setters select art to be promoted, exposing the average museum-goer to a certain “type” of artwork and coloring their perception of art forever. This is not new, and neither are the challenges to their criteria. Many of the artists discussed in art schools today were once rejected by their contemporary art societies. Artists like Cezanne, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, (or as I like to call him “the greatest Art Troll in history”.) The same behavior continued towards graffiti, folk art, comic art, and digital illustration and will with any new art movement. Sadly, the laymen think they have to fit into the criteria to be a true artist. Many Artists fall for it too.

In reality, a lot of art produced doesn’t have a meaning. It’s just the result of a wacky, creative mind.

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Yes. A baby Tornado. At Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, NC

I speculate that the artists who openly admit that fact are rarely seen in high profile museums. The ones who do often make one up to appease the stereotypes of the trendy art elite. A lot of artists ignored by this “elite” nowadays promote their work in galleries, coffee shops, breweries, non-profit art spaces, art festivals and outdoor art shows. You get much more of a variety of ideas and creators.

Conclusion

The “Laws” of Art has been in changing and continues to change. Artists will always continue to debate what is and isn’t “art”. If both sides want to survive into digital age they will have to change how they see the other side.

 

 

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Hey, Jude!

Screenshot of JudeMaris YouTube Page

Screenshot from JudeMaris’ YouTube Page

Forensic reconstruction has been on my mind lately. Not only is it used to bring faces back to the faceless, but reality to images long idealized. You’ve probably seen them somewhere on social media: age progressions of celebrities and missing children. But how about icons who died before their time? Or those who sacrifice their appearances in battle? Those are the subjects that capture my attention. 

     Ever since graduating (finally!) I’ve taken advantage of my free time to explore my growing interest with facial reconstructions. While it has taken me to some pretty dark places (unidentified murder victims and suspects) it has taken me to more pleasant .

     This guy/gal (?) doesn’t just reconstruct Egyptian mummies, but other members of the expansive club we call history. While most of his/her(?) subjects are Egyptian Fayum portraits (adjusted for accurate eye and skull proportions), the most compelling images in my opinion include a hypothetical age progression of Charles Lindbergh Jr. and the restoration of a civil war soldier facially deformed from battle. If you want to take a peek into alternative history, check out this JudeMaris’  page.

     While you’re at it, here are two more pages with age progressed (and regressed) images of historical figures and recovered missing kids:

http://sketchcop.com/commissioned-historical-age-progression/
https://www.bizarrepedia.com/age-progression-reliability/

Come On To My “House”

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I return from a long hiatus to bring good news. By now most of you already know that my hometown of  Charlotte has been the latest city to see protests erupt in response to a questionable police-related death. Once violence erupted, many businesses within the vicinity of the chaos (mostly hotels) were vandalized on the first night. Since that night, many buildings were flanked by plywood where windows once stood. A lot of reservations were cancelled, losing the hotels a good amount of money. However, one guy had a great idea.

Matt Allen, general manager for the Hyatt House hotel, invited every artist in the Charlotte area to enhance the plywood with their talents. Being an artist as well, yours truly  could not resist the opportunity to be part of wonderful, project. From the locals such as the Charlotte Art League and my fellow SketchCharlotte member Mike Wirth and his art students pitched in with a variety of art mediums.

Naturally, media arrived to follow up on this wonderful movement.  The day I arrived, Fox News, international news agency CCTV, and local affiliates WSOC and WCCB came down to check out our work. Liz Foster of WSOC-tv interviewed me and representatives of the Charlotte Art League. (Link below. May have to sign onto facebook)


It took 8 hours to complete my work. By the end, my legs hurt from standing all day and I was running low on energy. However, it was an energy well spent. Matt and the staff of the Hyatt House were the most gracious people, helping us out with any supplies we needed. When they let us use their restrooms to clean our brushes, I actually felt hesitant to dirty up the hotel’s gorgeous bathrooms with my messy supplies and make more work for the custodial staff. I offered to use the bar’s back kitchen but everyone said the lobby restrooms were just fine. These people were affected the most by the vandalism. Reduced business always effects those below the corporate level most. I felt compelled to help bring business back to the city, but of course I wasn’t the only one.

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(left) Work in Progress. (right) Design by Mike Wirth

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Charlotte: where everybody knows your name….

It was a wonderful experience. I made new friends, ran into old friends who happened to be walking down the street, and if anything else, helped bring Charlotte’s art scene to the mainstream. What am I talking about? When I first moved here back in 2012, I had to go out of my way to find the local art communities. Due to the upscale nature of uptown, a tourist will only have access to more formal institutions like the Bechtler, the Mint or Foundation for the Carolinas. Unless they catch an artPOP billboard or ride a tour bus that will stop in the North Davidson area, visitors will not be exposed much any local art.  By having an exhibit right where visitors can pass by and see what the other side has to offer, they may have just one more reason to come back.

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Queen Corgi says “hi”

Tabling Life: Union County SuperCon

Over the weekend, Union County North Carolina library System held their annual SuperCon. Run by Indian Trail Branch Manager, John Tompkins, the event has been successful with families for a couple years running now.

Tompkins (right) with a Special Guest

Tompkins (right) with a Special Guest

The group SketchCharlotte and I were invited to commission illustrations for the local kids in addition to selling some of our works.

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I met many more artists and young kids who are still figuring out what to do with their ability to draw. As it turns out, this event was the introduction not only for those with no understanding of comics but for the larger HeroesCon remains out of reach. A few children came by our table admitting their bravery to come out to the show as they shared their artwork. The one thing I could tell them was how lucky they were to have a library with such rich access to comics.

Perhaps erroneously, I assumed a small county would shy on the comic collections, similar to the ones from my childhood. However, UCPL (as much as it pains me to say) puts the more urban Mecklenburg County libraries’ collection to shame. Even the main branch downtown.

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Seriously, This is more than the quarter shelf of comics I see.

As a matter of fact, they had so many, they had to sell one or 30. Of course I helped them out.  In the end, I’ve made many more friends, both professional and student. I cant wait to go back.

A swap, a deal and a glimpse of a future career ( Artist: Tyrone Leung)

A swap, a deal and a glimpse of a future career.

While the SuperCon is not well advertised beyond the county, but if you live in the Charlotte/ Kannapolis / Lincolnton area, I say this event is worth the day drive. If interested, check out for updates on UCPL’s website: http://www.union.lib.nc.us/

Credits

The Slackmatic Mini-comic by Ryan Holgerson: https://twitter.com/slackmatic
The Fan Art by Tyrone Leung (instagram: @tyrone_leung)

Will The Real Royals Please Stand Up?

Royal portrait artists were the photoshop of their day: erasing any and all flaws of their subject. Take King George IV and Queen Caroline for instance:

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On the other end, cartoonists of the day exaggerated the flaws for comedic or commentary purpose, as seen with our lovely royal couple below.

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If not for these opposing factions, we would never get the truth somewhere in the middle.

Pencils and Pixels

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This week, my comics group, SketchCharlotte, held a gallery opening for comics, comics – related art and all alternative art. If interested, it’s still running now through February 12, 2016 at the Max L. Jackson Gallery, in the Watkins Building at Queens University.  Come see original works by me and many of Charlotte’s great local artists. And bring money, for alot of our stuff is for sale!

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Date and location Information about the Gallery.

For More Information, check out the Facebook page from BigDogStudio:
https://www.facebook.com/events/171807783177261/ik

Brady ‘ s “Deflate” Face: When Fan-Dumb Ensues

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Ouch.

In case you’ve just resurface from a subterranean existence last night, you already know that Patriots fans are all over the “Deflategate” the courtroom sketch artist who did not render Tom Brady according to their likings.

In response, the artist, Jane Rosenberg, provided the best “apology” this “controversy” deserved:

 “Tell Tom Brady I’m sorry I didn’t make him pretty enough. He’s very pretty.”

While I hope this incident does not Ms. Rosenberg’s career, this provides a lesson for court artists around the nation. Next time a star athlete is in court, sparkles, muscles, and violet eyes will be applied at all times.
 

Some Value in VOGUE

My school’s online library just launched a Vogue magazine archive going back to 1892. Until the 1960s, fashion catalogues were primarily illustrated, serving pretty well for studying historical costume design and illustration conventions the progressing time periods. As a enthusiast of Victorian/Edwardian-period illustration style, this is a goldmine.

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National Lampoon’s Split Rock

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The fact that Split Rock is closing reminds me of the final act in National Lampoons vacation: when the Griswolds travel all that way only to find out that Wally World is closed. Well, although my travel wasn’t in vain, it still pains me to know that other may have had to wait another year and now know that they’re opportunity is lost. Maybe if those responsible for the closing understood what efforts people took to get to the Split Rock Arts Program, then they wouldn’t disgard it so easily. So let’s start with my story, at least.
Although I’ve been drawing for 15 years, I still consider myself an amateur cartoonist taught by “the self-learning method”of comics strips and graphic novels. They’re were few that I could call “peers in the field”, as other cartooning people I knew did so for fun and had no plans for serious pursuit. Although I searched for like-minded souls in comic book store gatherings, the closest locations only hosted “Magic: The Gathering” Parties and nothing more. Even in college I found only the usual readers (not illustrators/writers) of the superhero genre. What kept me going was my own study of cartoonists, comic artists, and the history and social impact of the craft itself. By the time I graduated, I knew that I was going to have to search long and hard to find formal lessons. I didn’t know how hard it would be. 
The first search was not so successful when I moved back home. Of the region-wide Comic Book stores that had websites, no meetings could be found on their events calendars. Reaching the peak of my frustration, I took a break from the search and focused on my creative writing.
In between writing groups, I travelled through the online branches of database links, collecting as many writing workshop postings as I could. I knew, however that it wouldn’t hurt to peek at the art databases, you know, just in case. In the best stroke of luck, I could not believe what stood out among the droves of watercolor, acrylic and other traditional workshops: Comic Art. With a little financial help from Mom
(and a promise to let her tag along on the trip west) I was on my way to a real structured workshop!
As I conclude this blog, I’m setting up for a Comic Art Meet-up located 3 hours from home. Because it’s the closest one available.  I hope those responsible understand what they’re taking away when they let Split Rock close down.