Monday, October 22, 2007

Low art in the High Desert

Still Life at Barter Faire, found no shit.

"Keep it real" as Tim Robbins said in a crappy feel good world music documentary. So, here is a little bit of art outside the white cube. The Okanogan Barter Faire. The people come for the community, weed and freakshows and unashamedly to make a little bit of a living. I was looking for a pitch fork and some red beats.

Everything is art. Bodies especially, people dress up special for the Faire. I find the short people dressed in children's clothes with dirty face makeup on particularly disgusting. Wait, those are children. Tents are decorated, layers are in vogue, happy signage is the visual unifier. Nice lessons. I find them authoritarian. Let's just say I'm a reactionary.

I spotted only five artists who made original paintings (there could have been more, Frank + I kept walking down the same rows.) The paintings were similar to the t-shirt prints, decorated buses and other paraphernalia. It is a coherent culture if anything. Rasta, green anarchists, fairies, Indian East and West, hillbillys, yuppies, did I say coherent?

I interviewed Sera.
Sera did not have any visual art education in primary school although she was involved in music and drama. She was actually inspired to start drawing when she saw a sunset driving in our hills only eight years ago. Now there's an assumption blown away. What, you mean Andy Warhol didn't knock you on the head with a Famous Stick?!! She said it was fun. What, you mean you don't want to change every one's opinions by making a leftist painting?

For Sera, a lifestyle change brought on drawing. She used to enjoy beading, still may, but children seemed to get in to a mess with that delicate medium. Practicality, creativity, stress release. Art.

For a long time, Sera only drew. Painting "intimidated" her. "You have to know what you're doing to paint." But the process of learning about texture and color drew her in and she's eschewing her insecurities about paint. She's very confident about the outcomes of spontaneous mark making. She simply "starts with a line or a shape" and goes from there. I like Sera's attitude toward art making, I'm not so hot on the fairies or the psychedelic colors, but if that's influenced by her culture or just what she likes, whatever.

Oh, look what I just found in the latest art magazine.

So, to this one person art is personal release and sharing fun. But seriously, after post-modernism and the huge umbrella that is art, why does the hierarchy between drawing and painting still exist?


keri marion said...

Man, I haven't been to the Okanogan Barter Faire in like 7 years. What a ride that place is.

I just have to say the last time I was up there, someone was mating dogs in the tent next to mine. Also I ate so many "sticky green buns" that I couldn't even talk for like 4 hours. To get me to shut up for that long is a feat sought by most men, but only achieved by kind pastry.

I think the found still life is freakin brilliant, lovely and probably both really good reads.

I think what makes these communities "coherent" is the idea (the faire) that strings the people together.

Maybe they have all different individual reasons for being there, but collectively they share the same root reasons: fun, relaxation, a shift from the ordinary, the best vegan burritos on earth, freaky sex, good hash and connecting with other humans on a level that is unwelcomed, at best, in common urban society. For a couple days many can just be themselves and some can continue to be themselves while others actually find themselves.

There are differences in what Sera does and what any of us three artist do.

From your description, I conclude that Sera makes drawings as a hobby - it's a naive practice meant *strictly* for fun or relaxation. (Maybe I'm just jealous. I haven't been able to relax while making art since well before art school.)

linear equation:

sophistication(nth) = intent+context(innovation)

It's not to say that her end result can't be sophisticated; it very well may be. Although, that fairy didn't convince me.

(and as a side note, neither did the SCAD fairy, except the handling of whatever medium [intent with craft] is in line with the design aspect of the school's philosophy.)

It's also not to say that because what she is doing is fun or relaxing that it automatically is not art. It's just not the sole purpose, unless it has somehow been conceptually outlined to be so. Shit. Maybe I'll work on that.

So does the lack of "sophistication" automatically revoke a work its title of "art"?

And what the hell is sophistication anyway?

Art shocks, even if the only shock is given to the one who creates it. It could be a pile of crap to everyone else, but maybe for me it really blows my mind. It doesn't always have to challenge opinions or become political or change minds, but something about the work should shock the viewer, whoever that may be.

This is a completely Duchampian viewpoint, of course. I should also point out that Duchamp considered posterity to the utmost validation of art. I disagree with the latter as an absolute rule, though I agree on some level.

I've lost myself. hehe

Paper Girl said...

Well, the Adjunct art professor is coming out in me and I just have to say..."stick to beading, Sera".
(Sorry folks, I'm an admitted ART SNOB) I am getting tired of hearing..."'re an artist? Meeee too!" when you just KNOW they sit at their kitching table making pot holders.....

Anyway, the Faire reminded me of those long ago biker swap meets that I used to attend...back in the day when a biker WAS a biker...and not some rich stock broker/weekend warrier on a Hog.
The handmade goodies for sale...the cheap t-shirts, leathers, bike parts, sex, drugs, bad food and beer. Hmm...I never thought I'd say this but I don't miss that life one bit!

What did intrigue me though was the first image on the first I thought it was an outdoor installation of discarded clothing tossed all over the landscape...(Note, Keri..the hair-raising reaction you know I experienced)
reminiscent of the installations "Lake of the Dead" or Lost Workers: The Work People of Halifax" by Christian Boltanski.

Comment for you Keri...I don't think you've lost yourself...I think maybe you are just getting ready to re-invent yourself...this happens time and again in an artists life. Hang tough.