But is it art?

Reading one of my favorite columnists today, James Lileks talked about art. He says:

Is it really necessary nowadays to tell people who you voted for in order to reassure them that you’re criticizing art from the proper perspective?

That makes me sad and a little mad. Why do we have to agree on an ideology to be moved by beauty? That should not be so!

It’s unamerican.

But, upon reflection, it’s been held true for a long time. Only certain people are allowed to say what is true and what is good. Religion and education and class are all part of it. I would *like* to believe the world is more equal than that.

And that is what the founding fathers of America kinda said. “All men are created equal” was written then by those expounders of the age of enlightenment. We all get to make up our own minds. We all get to choose.

Except I am so much a snob on so many levels. I won’t read Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code because I don’t believe that something so popular could be worth my time. And I as I am reading Joyce’s _Ullysses_ I am also listening to a lecture series from a famous professor about what this book really means.

So. I am a big fat hypocrite. I get to choose what I like. But I also want to choose who I listen to for recommendations.

When Chris and I were first dating, he took me to Disneyland. He loves Disney, and all the nostalgia of the Land. I hadn’t been since I was 5. He wanted to show me this magic place.

I was more sophisticated than a 5 year old this time. I went around in a search for authenticity and said “It is nice. But is it art?

He didn’t think it needed to be art. Which led to a long conversation in the one and only sit-down restaurant in Disneyland about beauty and the purpose of story and art in society. Is Disney consistent with the original storytellers intent with regards to Snow White? Is the current company consistent with Walt’s vision?

One of the reasons I love this man is that we are still talking about these things, on a monthly if not weekly basis. It has expanded to include a number of other examples.

But the thing about Disney is that it was created during  a moment of time in the industrial age that allowed the mass production and dissemination of beautiful things cheaply.

So now we enter an age of beautiful things being cheap and common. MAN MADE things being beautiful and cheap and everywhere.

I find it interesting that a lot of art students, and some professional artists, are now turning collections of man-man things into art installations. “Found art”?

Somebody made that.

Back before disneyland, the western art world was working to balance form to follow function and to follow beauty. We’ve been watching a documentary series, The Genius of Design , which discusses how to make all this happen. Is a telephone beautiful?

Steve Jobs tried to make his. And he is following a long line of designers.

Is there anything more available?

All these man-made things that we work on and use and try to find beauty in and beauty despite of…i have to wonder. Is it art?

Because we are not as good at art as nature. Can a painting ever eclipse a sunset? Or an eclipse, for that matter?

Yesterday while walking, I saw a woman whose arms were sleeved in tattoos. Man-made art. The ink–the pictures–that covered her arms?


Sister, don’t you know you are already a flower?