Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not dumbing down for art

Morning light
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(Refining the painting.
Not quite done.)
Okay, more on yesterday's thoughts.  I don't mean
that galleries need to dumb down their language
to attract new visitors.  The public that's not visiting
galleries is brilliant, but disinterested. But after I left
the art magazine to write for other magazines I learned
so much.  Good writing is direct.  That doesn't
mean the vocabulary needs to be simplistic,
or that you can't throw in a word like iconography,
or symbolism -- those words and others are
vital when that's what you're talking about.
Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely love going to
galleries and some of the large galleries I've visited
lately are incredibly friendly and accessible.  I was
so impressed by how kind the staff were, and how
informative at the MoMA and the Frick in New York
City.  Here at home I remember a wonderful conversation
with a docent about Emily Carr at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Many painters are deep thinkers, incredible
researchers, and informed readers.  But if I talk
about my Dance series, and say that it's my reaction to a
modernist zeitgeist, because I think someone
needs to hear that, I'm making my explanation up.
Now if you say that's what I'm doing, that's
your observation, and you could be right. In
fact I'll probably be so flattered that I'll go
and look up modernism, and be very impressed
with me.

I think perhaps this whole discussion is backing me into
an intellectual corner and I want out.
My point is that of course painters have ideas and
an overview of what they're striving for.  And when
they write about their work in most blogs I've
read, they tell it like it is.  Art buyers who want
a direct link to art can find it here in blogland.
There! Enough said.  Whew!  Next topic?

Have a-talking-the-talk-and-walking-the-walk day.


Jan Yates, SCA, Canada said...

Hey Barbara my curiosity was piqued after reading you on Shelia V's blog so had to investigate--glad I did! I've had a lovely time here and will be back--for your art AND your writing--quite like the above image.

Interesting topic re art speak and was it the CBC interview you were referring to? you are so right re the artist blog..but an artist statement that isn't over the top does help those of us who don't initially 'get' the work --especially with limited time to view the work. I know I like to understand a little about the progress/process.

Having said that, as a partner in an artist run gallery i do have to admit that on occasion I get a wee bit tired of patrons wanting another piece of me IE 'tell me about your work'--haven't I already poured enough of me into that painting? so on those days i am happy my statement is posted.

I think people are fascinated by the process of art-making and yes, unfortunately intimidated..i mean, if I as an artist am intimidated by other artists I can only imagine how scary it can be for the generally sane masses!

So i really did like the idea mentioned in the radio interview re how to get new visitors into a gallery--treat them like guests at a party!
sorry to ramble but it is such an interesting topic..thanks for putting it out there

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Jan,

Yes it was the CBC program I was listening to, it might have been radio noon. Alyson Stanfield has certainly taught me that if artists were identical to art buyers we'd have no explaining to do. But as artists we have an obligation to let the interested art buying public understand what we're up to.

Robert Genn had the great idea a few years back of posting the story of each painting beside the painting. When I have time I do that now, and I find that it's a very popular practice with people coming to see the work. It gives them something to do, plus a deeper connection to the work. Plus those little stories are always in accessible language.

I've exhibited with quite a few artists who get the party idea, super food, up beat music, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. We've had some wonderful parties with art as the excuse, and also the cause for celebrating.

Thanks for your insightful comment. I love your work. I checked it out. It's wonderful.

Take care,


David Lobenberg said...

The composition, colors, and abstraction here is wonderful. I sometimes will wake up in the morning and see fantastic morning light hitting something in the room or before going to sleep see the moonlight or night light illuminating something. I always say to myself, "I need to paint that" and never have...but...looks to me that you have and very successfully, I might add!

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!