Monday, October 20, 2008

Door County Recall continued

"Self Portrait" [2006]
Mixed media on wood

To the left is an illustration I did a few years ago. As you can tell, It's a realistic drawing of my face.

While Thomas Kinkade captures the essence of Super realism/ realism with his paintings, major criticism derives from the conceptual world's eye. I believe Door County, while able to capture the visual of the American Dream, like Kinkade, failed to go beyond what we see at face value. In this place, I worked alongside a world-renowned wood carver, who shall remain nameless. He asked me, "What is the difference between what I do and what you do?" Such a question confused me for a moment due to its vague nature, so I asked him to clarify. He said he would need some time to reconstruct the question. When we reconvened later that day he asked, "What is the difference between carving a realistic or stylized animal out of wood/ painting a landscape vs. what you are attempting to convey in you style? Why is conceptual considered high art? I am widely successful in my career, yet what classifies me as (assumingly a "lower artist")..."
A few days before I moved onto the beach resort (from the artist's house where I lived for the first two months), I wandered down to the pier. The pier was a place of silence, but it was never quiet. The wind was blowing, and the weather was chilly. I could feel my hair blowing in every direction and the wind trying to create tension on the back of my neck as if I was being taken away from this house by the current. With the wind coming from seemingly multiple directions, the waves splashed against the terrain, spouting water in all directions. On many other days, I would have paid attention to the cold instead of some unforeseen dialect which nature was trying to hand me. As I gazed off into the abyss, I wondered what intrigued me so much about this place. It was the same reason thousands of people flock to eastern Wisconsin every year to catch a glimpse. It is the same reason, I find Playa del Carmen, Mexico to be so intriguing. In fact, a vacation, by definition is an extended period of recreation often times taken in an attempt to temporarily escape the reality/ stresses of every day life. It was at this moment I realized the answer to the wood carver's question. When we go on vacations, we often fly out, eat too much, spend too much and maybe get a tan. Although we may come back to town with a new tan, it fades most of the time with the memory of it. Unless by good grace or freak chance, our lives were dramatically altered by a given experience during this trip, we will go back to old ways almost immediately no matter how happy that week made us feel. This particular pier was so different. I asked myself what made it so beautiful and what attracted me to it, for every day I have water in my faucet, why is this abundance of such so much different? Another wave hit the land. It seemed to go on forever. Realistic art is a lot like the body of water, lain out just inches below my feet. Although painted differently, I can see water everywhere, but if I am able to look deeper, there is an entire world, which I know little to nothing about. Meer molecules of this world splashed onto the rocks, creeping their way into my world, as I know it. Like conceptual art, the first time I see it, I don't really understand it, but each time I revisit it, I see something else. As I age, my understanding of this moment, or this image changes, it expands, it becomes more meaningful. The evolution of the work, at a standstill, becomes something to look forward to. High art is that which is ever personally changing. I find it to be of higher intellectual value than that which remains stagnant.

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