Mamma Mia! Here’s a new one: What if a bunch of artists got together for a group show made up entirely of personal renditions of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? All media welcome. Could be a rollick and I said, “Sì Sì.”
For this discussion, PTCS means “Post Traumatic Critique Syndrome” and Defectology, means focusing on lack and limitation.
I can still see my Beginning Painting instructor’s bushy 70s walrus mustache motating as he critiqued – no, outright criticized – my certainly awful attempt at the current assignment: paint a self-portrait as a famous person. On a 3’x4′ canvas I had modeled a full-bodied gesture of Greek-robed, barefooted Isadora Duncan in mid-bound and was having trouble putting my features onto it at all convincingly. I particularly remember the mustache’s emphatic contract/expand curl as he sneered the word “dumpy” in slow motion. “IS-a-dora DUN-can WAS NOT DUM-PEE! ” he intoned as he was actually looking down his nose at me.
Thing is, this guy worked hard in his critiques at tearing apart the whole line-up of our work. I was not singled out here, but by the time he got to me I was seething. At the sight of that slo-mo sneering ‘stache, I blinked. Out of hot shame and powerlessness, I sputtered back with all I had: my born fightin’ Ulster-Scot sense of justice and fairplay. “We already know our work is bad!!!!!” I yelped, “Why don’t you help us see what’s good about it???? Or at least suggest what we could try to make it better????”
I wish I could tell you what happened afterwards, or even the rest of the semester, but soon after that episode I had an emergency appendectomy and took an Incomplete. Within the year allowed to remedy the INC, I returned to his office with several other paintings I had done without the torment of his criticism. I got a B. Not sure it’s a direct consequence, but I have never taken another painting class.
The HOME Exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery just closed. Everybody’s pieces are going home – some to new ones. I have written about this exhibit for the past six weeks: the drop-off, its reception, three of the most compelling pieces in it, and my artwork in depth. (All the links you need are below.) We will close this Summer Blog-a-thon too, with a tiny glimpse of striking the set and beginning the new production. Over is OVER, as the deconstructed title wall serendipitously demonstrated when I showed up to get my piece.
What makes a piece of art compelling for me is primarily Wonder. As in it fills me with Wonder (amazement at beauty, uniqueness, ineffability) and makes me Wonder (curiosity about technique, backstory, message.) With a quest for wonderfulness in mind, I set out to find the artworks at the current Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery HOME Exhibit which carried me away into their worlds whether I fully understood them or not. Pieces that called up more questions than answered them. Pieces that pushed the idea of HOME into new shapes.
If you ask over 80 artists to create art around the theme of “HOME,” especially if you incite them to go long by suggesting “HOME can be a source of identity, a state of being, a repose of security, a place to belong, a war zone, an inalienable right,” you’re bound to see an intimately idiosyncratic array of responses. And that is most certainly true at the current home-themed exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery.
I have kvetched about attending art receptions on these pages before. They are a regular occurrence in my world, though, and I have longed for a way to feel more comfortable about them. I have gone early and left early, gone late and left early, gone late and stayed to help with clean-up, volunteered to greet or serve, and even brazenly – or more commonly, guiltily – skipped them. Nothing satisfied.