It would be presumptuous of me to proffer my opinion on this much debated subject. Art is such a subjective state of acceptance. I have often thought about that when I have heard the clichéd statement, “One man’s garbage is another’s treasure.” I feel that way when I read reviews of movies or shows. Intellectually, and critically, the reviewer is usually right on but that’s only two-thirds of the equation. In my view the missing third might be the most important part. Isn’t the visceral emotional response, the part we bring to the table, the real test of what makes a good film, a good theater or dance production, or painting or sculpture? Newspapers are full of reviews that probably properly pan a piece of art or a production to which viewers and buyers have a totally different response. Ultimately, who makes the decision on what is art or what becomes a “masterpiece?” You and I do.
In the last week I have had two interesting experiences. Last weekend a couple of members of my family wanted to see the movie August Rush. Now before I say anymore, I want to preface this by saying I try to be open enough to see almost anything I can. I love “discovering” new things, learning new things, and seeing differing perspectives. However, last weekend was a busy weekend and there were a lot of other films I wanted to see. In particular, I wanted to see the newly remastered The Red Balloon, an incredible classic. But, my daughter and her husband wanted to see this film and my husband and I wanted to share the experience with them. Yes, the review is correct – partially – but the nearly full house movie audience connected with the characters. They smiled, they cried, they cheered and clapped. They stayed and watched the credits. My daughter and I squeezed each others’ hands. People were talking about what might happen to the characters after the movie ended. We talked about foster parenting and adoption. So who’s to say it was a shallow predictable movie and what if it was? It made the audience feel good and they appreciated it.
Last night my husband and I had an entirely different experience. We went to an art show opening of a friend who is a sculptor. Al Farrow is an artist who prods you to think. Sometimes his work begs you to think about cultural lifestyles and other times the unthinkable. Last night’s exhibition was the unthinkable. His collection of reliquaries utilizes guns, triggers, bullets, and bombs to form temples, mosques and churches. Even in a crowded room, which is a difficult way to view any piece of art, his work shone as an example to human thought. That they were exquisitely beautiful goes without saying. That they were incredibly disturbing, also goes without saying. I believe that artistic masterpieces should be multi-faceted. Art should speak to the soul in a way nothing else does and then to the emotions. These sculptures were masterpieces. They spoke to my soul and they shook my status quo.
What makes an artist interesting to me is the depth of their process, not just the artistic result. Whether that artist is a visual artist or a performing or media artist, it is the journey that fascinates me.