Kitsch or art?

April 5, 2014

I enjoyed reading in the American Profile insert in today’s paper about the sculptures of Seward Johnson. I didn’t even notice, as I was reading, that the very first example is located in Hamilton, New Jersey, where we lived for eight years. Only later, as I was searching online to find out where more of his work is located, did I remember the sculptures outside the public library in Hamilton.

I also realized, as I surfed the web, how much opinions differ about Johnson’s work. The article in American Profile had mentioned that “art critics called his work kitschy and unoriginal,” but that sounded merely dismissive. If something is kitschy, it seems to me that the artist or art critic can simply ignore it.

But I guess art critics are bothered by how much ordinary people like Johnson’s work. Is it because that means less money – and perhaps prestige – will go to those the critics consider true artists? Do they think the public will be less likely to recognize the merits of what they (the critics) consider good art?

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Afternoon in the museum

June 29, 2008

I was quite taken aback, entering in through the back door of the art museum fifteen minutes before the doors officially opened (to rehearse with the choral group that would be singing as part of the city’s PatriArt celebration), to see a large bald man standing in the gallery, facing the opposite wall, wearing nothing but a Speedo bathing suit.

I was embarrassed to come closer, wondering who he could possibly be, and thinking that although from the back he bore a striking resemblance to a friend of mine, my friend would certainly not appear there in that outfit. As I came further in, I noticed other figures, extremely lifelike but frozen in poses that no living person would hold unmoving for that length of time. So the corpulent man was apparently just an amazingly realistic sculpture. I walked on by. The security guard seated across the room was clearly real, however.

Or was he? He did not look up as I approached. Or as I walked past. Only close up could I be certain that he was no more alive than the others. I headed on to my rehearsal, but made a mental note to be sure to check out the exhibit carefully once the performance was over.

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Hometown artists

February 1, 2008

I discovered in yesterday’s newspaper an article about a local artist who uses a centuries-old technology, called intaglio, to produce his prints. He engraves copper plates with a small, hand-held tool, then spreads hand-mixed ink on the engravings and runs them through his intaglio printing press. Intrigued, I decided to try to get a look at some of his work, especially when I discovered that it was on display in a downtown studio.

Since I just happened to have an overdue library book, I was going downtown at lunchtime anyway. So I stopped at Pearl Plaza, a renovated block of buildings that now houses various shops and offices. I had browsed there once before, long enough to discover that there were many beautiful items for sale but not that I could afford. (Not that everything is out of my price range, but I do not knit and have little use for yarn, nor do I need quilting supplies although I love looking at both the fabrics and the finished quilts.)

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