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Art, A Black Hole for Emotion

In Art on November 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm

By Daniel Rogers

This article was re-posted with permission from patienceandtime blog.

I recently realized that art is time. Often you hear the question: “How is that art?” Or the more steadfast, “That isn’t art.” Art is simply something that grasps time. Art freezes an emotion, a feeling. Art captures an element of an artist’s mind and expresses it in a way that is endless. Art must first be formed in your mind. You must incorporate inspiration as well as originality in order to create something new that has never been seen, but has been felt.

When your idea is formed you begin. You form your art without any regard for time. You never settle for something that will simply suffice, it must be perfect. You manipulate components until your art emerges. Your original idea is gone and your art is present. At this point you are exhausted, the excitement that an idea brings is gone. Now you are content, satisfied.

Next, you share your art, release it. Some choose to keep their art private, yet all artists want their art appreciated. Others now see your art. They are drawn in, they see beyond the instant, they see the work, the expression. The more they look, the more they can see and feel. The art inspires their mind to interpret. To them the art is new, it expresses unique feelings and memories to them alone.

Some will ignore your art, some will call it fake. They are not worth time. You create art to create time. A sort of black hole for emotion. Art is selective, it chooses its admirers. Everything is not art, but everything is art to someone. If you spend time with art that you hate, you’ll love it. It’s all about time — that’s what art is. Leo Tolstoy said: “The two most most powerful warriors are patience and time.” This is art.

Just a thought.

 

The author’s YouTube channel.

Blending Is Art

In Life in Society, Music on August 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm
Photo by Laurel Greszler

Photo by Laurel Greszler

By Heila Rogers

The documentary 20 Feet From Stardom is about backup singers. Even that term, “back-up singers” can imply, “second-rate” in our minds.

Because people are supposed to be the one and only STAR, right? That’s what success means? For instance, if you’re 4th place in the Olympics, no one knows your name. Having your name known is what matters. “Second-place is the first-place Loser,” as the saying goes.

But the art, the creation of something, can get lost in that way of thinking.

What about the music itself, and all the parts?

All voices, parts and instruments melding together ~ to create a unified and transcendent piece of music – how to quantify that? How to determine its value?

Stardom isn’t bad though. Or is it?

Self-promotion is necessary, there’s a business side to things.

Promoters have a place.

“We can’t let the people decide, we have to tell them what they like, and what to buy.”

What the people often like and decide to buy on their own (is it the advertising or is it market-driven?) isn’t the most uplifting though.

But then again, it often is just that. People often see, buy and like what is uplifting — but it’s sometimes harder to find.

In the 20 Feet From Stardom movie, Sting says about these women:

“There’s a spiritual component to what they do, an inner journey, and any other success is cream on the cake.”

Photo by Heila Rogers

“Don’t Coppy M*” | Photo by Heila Rogers

Maybe we have to be ready to be the star, too. How to do that with grace and integrity, realizing we’re part of a whole — we’re a part along with others, we’re a piece of the bigger world. Not to mention eternity.

In many ways, this story of back-up singers is the story of women. Of being in the background, but maybe not by choice. Sometimes though, being in the background is a choice, both for men and women. There is an evolving awareness of the contributions and value of all voices, including those quieter ones, or those in the background.

When every one can share their unique piece with others as a part of the whole, then we’ll have the best, the most beautiful, music.

Also in the movie:

“It’s up to you to perfect that gift that you’ve been given.” — Stevie Wonder

Photo by Laurel Greszler

Photo by Laurel Greszler

The Science of Art

In Art, Life in Society on February 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm

By Stephanie Martin

E pluribus Unum: words we’ve all heard or read somewhere before. “Out of many, one.” The de facto motto of our nation until, “In God We Trust” was adopted, the phrase is on much of the money we all carry around in our wallets, purses, or pockets. Although physically present everywhere, it appears in conversation only when discussing the cultural, racial, or social diversity of America. However, it seems to me the phrase has an older application, older than our nation, older than its own language, Latin.

Lately, I have been thinking about this phrase because I have been thinking about the idea of “one” and the idea of “many.” And here’s why. In less than one year, I will graduate with a degree in biochemistry and will, subsequently, stumble into a world in which I am not sure I want to practice biochemistry. In fact, I am not sure I know what I want to practice. If you had asked me last semester, or even at the beginning of last month, I would have told you that I was going to apply to film school and get a graduate degree in English. Last August, I would have told you that I was going to apply to grad school for chemistry or biochemistry. My senior year of high school, I would have told you that I might be a zookeeper or doctor. My freshman year, you might have heard me say I wanted to be a cowgirl. You get my drift. I have been living in an identity crisis for as long as I can remember. Although I could blame my identity crisis on being the middle child, I suspect it has something more to do with the dichotomy of my brain. My left brain wants me to be a scientist. My right brain wants me to be a writer.

full mannequin

So what do you do when you are studying science and suddenly want to be an artist? Don’t ask me! I’ve been trying to figure it out for at least a year and made about as much progress as a snail on salt. It’s a slow and painful process, trying to figure out what to do with your life. You may choose one thing and find, three years into a degree, that you may not want to do that at all. Hypothetically, you may then choose something else, and focus on that for a while until, in theory, you visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with your family and realize that you love science it’s your life and you could never give it up! There goes six months’ worth of plans down the drain!

Nevertheless, my love of art, literature, and writing has not dimmed. My interests this past year have felt like an oscillation from science to art to science to art again with everything in between. I ask myself audibly, “Why can’t you just pick one?!”

In a recent conversation with a friend, the subject of “art” arose. As soon as she said that word, my brain naturally connected that idea to all of the things I associated with art: painting, sculpture, film, theatre, poetry, literature, music, etc. Somewhere in the middle of the train of thought I realized that she had said, “art, as a way of life.” A beautiful idea I thought. Beauty in every part of life. I like it. It was then that something clicked. I was wrong. Art isn’t just one thing. It’s not something you can categorize. It’s not confined to that list that went through my head. Ironically, neither is science. Science seems to be systematic and fact-oriented, but it’s not just that. It’s a way of thinking and viewing the world. It’s more. That’s when it hit me. I don’t have to choose one thing to do with my life. I don’t have to do just science, or just art. I can do both. I can choose more than one. I can choose many, because life is more. It is more than one occupation or one hobby or one friend or one place. Life is more than one. But that is the beauty of life. Because from these many things, comes one life. E pluribus Unum.

mannequin

Suppressing Art

In Art, Life in Society, Music, Poetry on October 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm
Snow Geese NM:NWR

Photo by Roger Brown
Snow Geese
New Mexico

By Heila Rogers

Why did poets, musicians and dancers of the Stalin-era Soviet Union continue to create? Why not just stop, when they saw their loved ones and other artists being killed, or sent to the Gulag or jail?

What compelled them?

Why is art often suspect?

And… what is art actually … for?

Regimes like the Soviet Union, or Hitler’s Nazism,  – all have controlled, suppressed and hated art and artists.

This suppressive way of thinking is alive and well in every country.

Yet Adolf Hitler painted paintings. Propaganda was used in the above systems. As is sometimes the case in advertising, images were made especially to sway or manipulate.

If that’s not what art is for … then what is in fact its purpose?

Artists have been referred to as “parasites upon society.” There is a perception of making art as being a waste of time.

Glimpses of a world without art can be seen when looking at the functional-only blocks of apartment buildings in former “Soviet Republic” countries.

[Mongolia]

Much of nature consistently inspires people. Looking around us, at gloriously different varieties of creatures and plants; or unique, everyday sky and cloud patterns, we feel hopeful … and often moved to create.

Petra-RB

Photo by Roger Brown
Sandstone Formations
Petra, Jordan

When we feel, think and conclude – from an artistic place within us – we make things.

doorway

Photo by Roger Brown
Petra Cave Entrance
Jordan

Why is this threatening? What causes such a strong reaction against art and artists?

Human beings want to control other human beings. Perceived control makes us feel safe. When we tell others what to do, we have an illusion of safety. Really, we all think we know best, and how the world should be run. Therefore we’re ready to organize everyone and everything accordingly. So when someone (or something) challenges that, it must be suppressed. Or else we won’t win or succeed. We think.

This is the fatal flaw of totalitarianism. All forms of it eventually fail, because they don’t take into account (or understand) long-term reality. There is a force in the world and in human beings which will resist inappropriate control.

Whereas within art, although there are certainly elements of control and discipline, it’s viscerally about freedom. About exploring, questioning … and listening.

Real art loves, expresses truth, explores truth, attempts to honestly communicate what is true.

That doesn’t mean everything created is good or used for good.

It also doesn’t mean that everyone fights or resists wrong control. In the short-term, or without a certain perspective, it feels better to control others or to submit to (undue) influence.

Very obviously: humans can warp or misuse … well, pretty much anything and everything. But, the grace to create is there. It’s there for everyone. This might be a strange thing to say, but what if Hitler were not suppressed himself as an artist? His father forbid him go to art school. Might history have been different if he himself were not abused and wrongly controlled?

Take for example the swastika – the flag of the Third Reich, created by Hitler.

The arrangement of colors and the symbol together are visually attractive. The bent cross symbol is actually an ancient one – the root Sanskrit word “svastika” means  “to be good/lucky.” Many cultures use variations on the form:

[symbol, origin]

The Nazi swastika is self-described as being, “the symbol of the creating, acting life.” Wow. Wishful thinking on Hitler’s part? The four-arm crooked form was already being widely used in a folk-national movement, among others, when Hitler adapted it for his now infamous emblem. It is still used widely in Indian religions. [Wikipedia]

Hitler wrote (in Mein Kampf) what he wanted the symbol to mean: “As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. In red, we see the social idea of the movement; in white, the nationalistic idea; in the swastika, the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work.” [63]

He robbed from widespread, already popular images to make, in an evil-genius way, a powerful (albeit warped) standard. He wanted so much to be an artist. Instead of representing what he stated above, the Nazi flag now represents horror, evil and … suppression.

Divergent or analytical thinking – a part of art – is discouraged and punished. As well are disagreements with policies. This intolerance for disagreement instead of being a strength, in fact indicates weakness. If someone called Stalin “a murderer and peasant slayer” (O. Mandelstam below) and the words were not true, what power would they have? But then, because propagandists have experienced success using words cleverly to manipulate people into believing certain ways, they suspect others of doing the same.

Regardless, during times of persecution and distress, the following artists were a part of creating – which sometimes did mean protest and disagreement with governmental policies or actions:

(Data, except as cited, from the book, “The Soviet Image: A Hundred Years of Photographs from Inside the TASS Archives,” by Peter Radetsky © 2007)

Anna Akhmatova:

A preeminent Russian writer of the twentieth century and a renowned poet, “In the presence of [her] I looked at the world as if I were on a new planet,” said writer Lydia Chukovskaya. Her husband was executed for alleged antigovernment activities, her son was exiled to Siberia, many of the people closest to her would be imprisoned or killed, she suffered a ban on her poetry that lasted, on and off, for three decades. She never left her home country and wrote the following in her poem “Requiem”: “No foreign sky protected me, / no stranger’s wing shielded my face. / I stand as witness to the common lot / survivor of that time, that place.”

Photo by Roger BrownPetra, Jordan

Photo by Roger Brown
Al Khazneh Ruin
Petra, Jordan

Osip Mandelstam:

Was arrested and died in the Gulag in 1938. “Poetry is respected only in this country,” he said. “There’s no place where more people are killed for it.” Circa 1925.

‘This is what I most want’

This is what I most want

un-pursued, alone

to reach beyond the light

that I am furthest from.

And for you to shine there-

no other happiness-

and learn, from starlight,

what its fire might suggest.

A star burns as a star,

light becomes light,

because our murmuring

strengthens us, and warms the night.

And I want to say to you

my little one, whispering,

I can only lift you towards the light

by means of this babbling.

Note: Written for his wife, Nadezhda.

[http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Russian/Mandelstam.htm#_Toc485874609]

The treasury, Petra, Jordan

Photo by Roger Brown
The Siq (The Shaft)
Petra, Jordan

Lydia Ruslanova:

Folk singer who toured the front constantly during the war and performed for the troops. A beloved entertainer, she performed on the steps of the Reichstag in Berlin while parts of it still smoldered. Because of her popularity and friendship with Marshal Zhukov, Stalin began to regard her as a potential threat. She and her husband were sent to the Gulag in 1948. Upon Stalin’s death, she was released and resumed performing until her death, in 1973.

Dmitri Shostakovitch:

In August 1942, during the darkest days of the siege, his Seventh Symphony was performed in Leningrad’s Philharmonic Hall. Loudspeakers broadcast the concert throughout Leningrad and, as another act of defiance, to the German troops stationed outside the city.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtjAmaG7jjA

“Regardless of when Shostakovich initially conceived the symphony, the Nazi attack and consequent relaxing of Soviet censorship gave Shostakovich the hope of writing the work for a mass audience instead of a primarily esoteric one. To do so, he had to express his hidden feelings in a way to make them accessible to the audience, allowing it to experience catharsis. A model on how to do this was Igor Stravinsky‘s Symphony of Psalms. Stravinsky’s compositions held considerable influence over Shostakovich.[13] and he had been deeply impressed with this particular work.[14]

Shostakovich’s plan was for a single-movement symphony, including a chorus and a requiem-like passage for a vocal soloist, with a text taken from the Psalms of David. With the help of his best friend, critic Ivan Sollertinsky, who was knowledgeable about the Bible, he selected excerpts from the Ninth Psalm. The idea of individual suffering became interwoven in Shostakovich’s mind with the Lord God’s vengeance for the taking of innocent blood (Verse 12, New King James Version).[14] The theme not only conveyed his outrage over Stalin’s oppression,[16] but also may have inspired him to write the Seventh Symphony in the first place.[17] “I began writing it having been deeply moved by the Psalms of David; the symphony deals with more than that, but the Psalms were the impetus,” the composer said. “David has some marvelous words on blood, that God takes revenge for blood, He doesn’t forget the cries of victims, and so on. When I think of the Psalms, I become agitated.”[17]

A public performance of a work with such a text would have been impossible before the German invasion. Now it was feasible, at least in theory, with the reference to “blood” applied at least officially to Hitler. With Stalin appealing to the Soviets’ patriotic and religious sentiments, the authorities were no longer suppressing Orthodox themes or images.[18] Yet for all the importance he placed on them, Shostakovich may have been right in writing the symphony without a text, in view of the censorship that would eventually be reimposed.[14]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._7_(Shostakovich)

The treasury

Photo by Roger Brown
Narrow gorge, East entrance
Petra, Jordan

Artists who are trying to express and share light and beauty as real and existing; along with describing the human condition, and grief, and the wrongs they see — speak in important ways for all of us.

Art lifts us, and somehow helps us to be free.

Performance Art & Flash Mobs

In Art, Life in Society, Music on December 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The Hallelujah Chorus in the Food Court one.  The “Doe, a Deer” one, dancing in the train station.  What is it about these flash mobs that moves us?

I think part of it is a breaking through of the disconnect that we experience in large public spaces, or maybe in life.

Also, it’s a gift.  From the participants to the watchers.  A raw, pure form of art in that way.  Free, meant to give pleasure.  The participants (artists) practice and refine their creation.

The other thing that I can figure out , is that it invites involvement.  Formal boundaries between “artist” and “audience” are blurred if not obliterated.  There’s an implicit invitation to participate.

The watchers are a part of it.

People are free to smile, videotape, cover their mouths in shock, or dance.

Some people run away, too, I think.  Or are confused and leave.

What do you think?

What about the sneaky, surprise element?

The second one of these was a kind of publicity stunt.

Food Court Hallelujah Chorus

Train Station Do Re Mi

Plus there’s the element of the unexpected — both location and activity.

Or are these “smart mobs?”  Which are “mobs” and which are performance art?

What about the disruption of business or normal public activity?

Evidently Germany has outlawed them.

~ HR

By Spike Dolomite

Crop Circles

In Art, Life in Society, Nature on November 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Unsigned, gigantic, corporate, public art interacting with nature.

Attributed to the mystical or the alien.

The nature of human beings wanting to worship … something, anything.

Described as phenomenon.

People sit in them and expect to receive healing.

Unquestionably fascinating and beautiful.

Creators hide their identity.

Clip from National Geographic report about crop circles.

~ HR

Spouse Deployed Art

In Art on October 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm

"I Will Not Fall Apart Today" By Hartley King

"A Nightmare Strikes" By Hartley King

"Disconnected #1" By Hartley King

In her series of paintings, Hartley King, an Abilene, Texas artist, uses the visual metaphor of an empty metal folding chair to represent her aloneness during her husband’s deployments. She vividly renders her experiences and feelings during those times. Check out the entire collection here.

Art History

In Art on October 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Keystone Art Education

Find a variety of links to websites about different art, artists and art topics – including a virtual tour of the Sistine chapel.

“A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry vault or arch, which is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight.  This makes a keystone very important structurally.” (Wikipedia)

Evidence

In Art, Poetry on October 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Photo by Kent Bartlett

Leaves blowing in the breeze

Flowers dancing with graceful ease

Stars falling from the sky

A mother hears a baby’s sigh.

Barley bending in the wind

Someone talking with a friend

Frail grass clinging to the sod –

All evidence of the breath of God.

Georganne Conway
Copyright©2006

The Art of Conversation

In Life in Society on May 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Photo by Kent Bartlett

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”  William Shakespeare

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”  Mother Theresa