Why is it art? Why is it not art?
I’m straddling the fence here, and I;m asking for your opinion to help me decide.
A long-time friend sent me a news release for the coming 21st Anniversary celebration of the Illinois Central Blues Club concert coming up March 10. Visit my http://www.civag.com/artscalendar.htm for time and place.. Brutal revelation –> I named what I intended from the start to be an inclusive, acts of all kinds web domain CIVAG (Central Illinois Visual Artist Galleries) because the potential for support appeared to lie most obviously with the visual arts community, many of whom I met during and after my Illinois Times visual artist column. This explains why anyone who clicks on the site map and several other links at the CIVAG home page gets connected to a panoply of arts. At no time did I imagine news of “blues” events would be included in that roster.
Because I never considered blues to be art. In the aftermath of posting the 21st Anniversary item, I began to wonder how right I’ve been, never making the connection. You visit Prairie Art Alliance’s H.D. Smith Gallery, and are stopped in your tracks by a painting that was obviously produced by a Labrador painted with watery acrylic rainbow hues and trying to shake them out of his furry wet coat. The dog’s owner obviously had placed a stretched canvas near the pooch as he emerged and caught a lot of the paint that shook off. And the dog’s owner is asking $250 for an 18″ x 30″ result. Is it ART? Lots of folks suggest HELLNO! Aficionadoes who appreciate paintings like that explain that some art is too hard for John Q. NASCARfan to understand. My problem is that blues is too easy to understand. Many guitarists have been playing E, A and B7 chords four beats to the bar since they were 15 years old, my own dang self included. That doesn’t make them practitioners of blues.
It also means that some music fans may not be able to whistle the melody to a few measures from Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, but they know Mississippi John Hurt’s home town and the names of every album he recorded. So we know intelligent people have different taste. And we may observe there are more elements to appreciate in blues than three cords and a repetitive lyric to blues. But is the blues ART?
Does it have to be art to be worthwhile and appreciated as an entertaining medium without apologizing to anyone? No. Some people don’t want to be educated and challenged when they’re being entertained. Case in point: 90 percent of Fox Television Network programming.
We can’t make money a yardstick for defining art. Vinnie van Gogh sold ONE painting when he was alive, and that was to his brother, an art dealer. But the nutty brushmeister pursued his higher calling the way some disciples of Big Bill Broonzy follow in his path. Perhaps having no sense of reality is an essential element of art. Only then, can one chase moonbeams in whatever form they are manifest in the artist’s soul. Do blues players show this dedication? Absolutely. And so to fans who support blues with their dedicated labors and checkbooks. But is it art?
I posted the news about the March 10 party at an arts website? Was that appropriate given what YOU understand about blue and art? My mind could go either way with this, and what WE decide will determine whether or not I post news of future blues events. What do you think?
Live long . . . . and proper!