December 3, 2006

(Sm)Arty Pants

Argh. Here we go again.

I do not have an art collection. There are things I like, and things I don't, and I surround myself with objects that make me feel good. I think art, be it painting or sculpture or photography, calls to people. You look at a piece, and you feel something. Or not. But the thing is, it's totally subjective. If you don't get it, move along.

There's a piece in the LA Times today with the classic 'My kid could have done that' tone. If you need your trees to look like trees, you're gonna say things like that. Fine. But shut up.

There's a current fuss in my city right now, with the usual bunch of I-don't-get-its deciding their taste is everyone's taste. We've apparently been offered a Keith Haring sculpture. Virtually for free. And the local paper is full of the standard 'this is crap' letters you expect from people that only think art is Thomas Kincaid or Robert Bateman.

You know what? If this is the stuff you like, more power to you. I don't want it, but I sure wouldn't spit on your parade if this is your taste. But please, would you at least venture out of your comfort zone and acknowledge that there are other forms of art, even if you don't like them?

The late Keith Haring's work in instantly recognizable. Big, bold childlike drawings and sculptures that many times echo a grafitti feel. It is modern. It sings with life. The proposed work, shown here, has been called a bunch of ridiculous things by people. The first time I saw it, all I envisioned was my younger son tackling his older brother. Little guy trying to take out the big guy.

I wouldn't put it in my living room (it's huge), but it's been proposed for a park. Pefect. Instead, all I've heard is the tsking from the pursed lips of those that demand their art be the only art. Nice attitude. Any windows in those closed minds? I hope this isn't the way you're teaching your kids and grandkids about tolerance and acceptance.

Our world is a complicated, scary place these days. There is little room for light, and even less for the joy of innocence, the spirit of play. If anyone's work captures these things, it's Haring's. If you don't like it, off you go. But if you seriously can't entertain the idea that there are artistic practices, whether in writing or sculpture or painting, that can coexist with yours, don't bother sitting next to me.


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