Art that is more than Fine

I experienced some fine art this week that made me tired and cynical. So tired and cynical I haven’t felt like writing today. I know, like any selfish critic, I could use my words to mock the work instead of analyze it. Art is an easy target because it stands in front of us naked. Shooting down art is like shooting puppies in a basket.

That said, we want fine art to be identifiably “fine” if it is going to get a government grant, public donated resources and my ticket money. The trick is, who defines “fine”? I’ve been on juries. It never ceases to ABSOLUTELY ASTONISH me what some people think is great art and how some people can say “meh” or even “hate” work that I find profound. And I’m talking about people who should know what they’re talking about.

This subjective business is something else.

The art was part of a larger event. I wiggled my way through crowds and I seemed to “just miss” every “spontaneous” art event that was going on, and stood in line for forty minutes to watch my dear friend do something very silly that I could have gotten for free over coffee…why am I being such a piss pot? There are people all around me who are having a great time. Are they all pretending to like the whole thing because otherwise they may appear uncultured? Are they all high? Are they all just hoping the person who brought them is going to take them home tonight? Some of them are genuinely enjoying this. Why am I not one of them?


Portrait with Teeth by Rene Joshi was donated to an auction by the artist for Haiti relief. I won it!

I do what many ovulating females do, I chart my weeks and parse out when PMS should hit. No. I should be good. Did I eat well? Yes. Did I sleep? Not bad. I am claustrophobic and the crowd is dense, varied in age and economic standing it seems, multicultural…they are digging the childishness, the unpredictability, the chaos. They are greatly enjoying playing “dress up”, which one installation encouraged.

Evergrren 10th Anniversary Show - some items

Gay Mitchell is an artist often shown in galleries around the lower mainland as well as abroad. Her location: Port Moody

Ah. That’s probably it. It’s not a show I need. This show isn’t for me. I don’t need more chaos.  I don’t need more childishness. I don’t need to be shaken up. Nothing about my life is predictable. I get paid to play dress up. This show is giving me an excess of what I already have in spades that I do not want any more of. And it isn’t giving me anything that I love. In particular: beauty, serenity, language, spirituality, sexiness, wit, surprising tragedy or story. Home.


Lori Bagneres often shows in Bird on a Wire store and gallery on Main Street.

I head home and re-examine the fine art on my own walls. I have very little but it’s all original save a couple of theatre posters. I have the great honour of owning four Rene Joshis. They have all the elements I love in varying degrees though certainly not everyone feels comfortable sitting underneath “portrait with teeth”.They identify it is well done, they’re just kind of afraid of being bitten by it. For me, it makes me laugh and laugh. And also, it is the face of my dear friend so I think of her several times every day because there she is, smiling at me with all her pearly glories. I have Nora and Violet’s art. I have Westcoast luminaries: Patti Bowman, Lori bagneres and Gay Mitchell. Some photography by John McIver and a keepsake from Royal Sproule. The subject matter? Hm. Friends. Brooms. Ravens. Dinner table. Books. Jam. Woods. Commercial Drive. A map of Canada. Hm. So this is what I like? This surprises me. This almost embarrasses me. It’s so literal and homey! I also greatly like abstract but I don’t own it. Hm. I think fine art expands the world of the home when it is in a home. I only have a two bedroom apartment but when I look into a painting, it opens up another room. My other rooms are friends, woods, more home.

What rooms in your home have you opened up? What art do you need?



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