Friday, August 14, 2009
The other day my friend Jaclyn and I went to Red Squared, the art gallery in downtown Spring Green which is currently host to an exhibit by students of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hillside School of Architecture. The exhibit is great - photography, mixed media, oil paintings, architectural designs, and other projects fill the space.
This marked my second visit to the exhibit, and once again I was intrigued by the varying types of people I saw perusing the art just as much as I was intrigued by the art itself. There were, of course, the students whose art is hanging in the exhibit. They stood by the door, greeting guests, perhaps flanked by family members or friends, talking about their latest work, their education at the Hillside School, or other artists they know who are currently working in the "real world" else where in the country.
Both times now that I have seen the exhibit, I've also been in cohorts with an older set, a group that to my eyes seems uninterested in the purpose of the art and more concerned with being a part of the artistic, cultured world. They drink wine from plastic cups, inquiring about prices for certain works, and all the while they meander without committing themselves to their surroundings. They are aware of the art, but they do not seem to interact with it. I see no connection being made. Why are they there? The idea of being cultured, I think, can become misconstrued, and I see these people as a prime example of the misinterpretation. Suddenly, being part of these artists' domain becomes a recognition of status; they can afford to turn the art into a commodity with a monetary value which they believe will give them access to an artistic world to which they've given nothing of real worth in exchange . Perhaps that's a hasty generalization, but feel as though I see it happening. It may also be that I've got The Gift on the brain, and so now I'm constantly on the look out for artistic phonies.
I think that people-watching is fascinating. Lots of food for thought and a great source for creativity.
And then there are those perusing the gallery like myself and Jaclyn, a younger generation with much less money and perhaps a lot less concern for being considered "cultured" (what does it even mean to be "cultured," anyway?). We wander back and forth, considering each piece. I am fascinated most by the smaller projects which look, at first, as if they could have been created some lazy afternoon in front of the TV, but after a closer examination the intricacy of the detail is revealed and the art becomes a puzzle. How was this wall of tiles, each covered with 1/8" strips of magazine shreddings, brought to fruition? What message is this artist trying to relay? Does that pattern of the tiles as a whole mean something, or is it within each individual tile that an independent story lays waiting to be discovered? Are the patterns meant to be decoded? And why has this artist chosen to create large paintings using bright and cheerful colors which look charming and upbeat from a distance when the actual subject of these works, upon closer inspection, turns out to be the depressed neighborhoods of Brooklyn?
Most of the time, I can't really come up with answers for the questions the art seems to prompt. It all feels subjective anyway, since my own answers manifest themselves through my own personal perspective and experiences. But just the same, I'm happy that I'm able to consider the provocative nature of art. I hope that other people are doing so, too.
Going to the gallery reminded me how very much I enjoy all artistic mediums. I get really wound up in theatre a lot of the time, and I forget about the other forms of artistic expression that exist. I'm hoping that this school year I can make trips the Milwaukee Museum and perhaps to some in Chicago, too. I've also been thinking about Andy Warhol a lot lately, which is strange considering I really don't know much about him. So, I think I'll start exploring his life and work when I get back to school.
I don't think I'm going to have time to sleep this semester... but that's cool. Lots of reading, writing, and creating on the horizon; I really can't complain.