Why is Art? I prefer to think this question before I think of the What. Why the Why? Because answering the What seems to be quite subjective. Music, Paintings, Sculpture, Photography, Dance, Poetry, Opera, and Theatre: These some people might categorize as Art. These things you might decide to call the What of Art. Sometimes I, myself can’t decide the What.
OK then... Why Art? Art is to entertain. Art is to play with an audience’s emotions. Whether this audience is one or many, Male or Female, Young or Old. The better an Art is, the easier it gets its point across. More precisely: the better an Artist is, the easier he gets its point across. Some Artists have been labelled as “Masters”. Those that we think of are mostly Painters, Sculptors, and Poets. This is due to the resilience of their work: Carved Marble lasts longer than a loaf of bread! Oil on canvass is more resilient than Chalk on slate. Yet why couldn’t that loaf of bread be considered art? Here is the ‘subjective part’ of Art. This is why I prefer to think of the Why rather than What.
Art serves a purpose for us humans that no other living creature can appreciate. Before written history (I imagine) early proto-humans found ways to convey emotions by mixing ‘Pigments’ and using these pigments to tell stories of great hunts, or to leave their mark for posterity. I’m sure there was probably some sort of rhythmic movement accompanied by ‘Musical chanting’ to help emphasize a story. As Humans and cultures grew, Tribes gathered around each other and the fables that were told to protect and teach changed into traditions. Costumes, Pictures, dance and song... Sagas passed down. All these things became Art. Originally meant to teach, “Masters” would emerge as the best teachers, story tellers, singers and poets. Not so long ago in our past, Musicians: Troubadours, Bards, and Minstrels would travel the land between towns and cities, putting local stories to music and taking these stories “the News” to the next town. They were either kept by the aristocracy or ‘Put out the Hat’ as they went.
As cities grew, and the rich grew with, the things that separated the rich from the poor were how they proved their wealth to each other. Things haven’t changed much. Who can throw the best party with the best stuff hanging on the wall wins... for now! “Patrons of the Arts” became more and more common, and thus so did the Art! As the quantity of what is called Art became (and becomes even today) more abundant, mastery of the Art itself lessened.
Now, there is “Art” everywhere. We download it daily: we cut ’n’ paste j-pegs with abandon. We copy and miniaturize Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ until we forget who the original Artist was. Terabytes of mp3s fill our computers, IPods, cell-phones and Car stereos. All of it “Art” to someone. There is so much, and everybody seems to be doing it so much, that true mastery doesn’t happen that often anymore. I have seen so many ‘Hacks’ rise to the ‘Top’ of the fame game, with the gimmicks, falsehoods, and counterfeiture of ‘Mastery’. I give you as example: Kenny G. (Yes, I may be jumping on the bandwagon here. Pat Metheny, jazz master guitarist has already slagged Mr. G. But here I go too!) I’m sure that there must be some of us who have heard some of ‘Gs’ stuff, and can pick out his ‘stylings’ as they waft through the office’s canned music system. The overly echo-ed, non-vibrato-ed, dulcet stench that seems to only ever emote a smudged waterfall on a linty red velvet background. And I’m sure that we’ve all seen his Gerry-curled thinning hair splashed efeminitely over one shoulder of his silky blue satin suit, while he chews on his shiny star-filtered Soprano sax and looks longingly in the camera as if to hint how he knows that the cancellation of General Hospital hurt you deeply. He is what he is due to a marketing scheme that has managed to be the same as a McDonald’s or Nike: “Find the highest number of people with the most open wallets, and sell to them”. Talk to those that purchased a CD and they will tell you the joy he brings them! Utter tripe!
So, If guys like ‘Mr. G’ can be called artists, why can’t we all? Things such as this is the reason why we have so many second-rate (third, fourth, etc.) idiots clogging the system. This system where true ‘Masters’ could and should be propped up, “Patronized” and studied from! True Masters who are technically superior in their chosen craft. Masters who are able to convey emotions quickly and accurately. Masters who can tell the story in an entertaining way. Masters who aren’t fettered by charlatans and frauds.
For every “Kenny G dollar” spent, we should spend two or five on Ross Taggart! (or others like him!)
Here is one example of Why Art in today’s world. Pay for your Art. But don’t buy copies. If you can’t afford originals, learn a craft and Make Art.