Friday, June 3, 2016

Deconstructing the Concept of "Art"

Dear World,

It appears that I have one or more complications (because we don't want to call them problems) that perhaps should be cleared up. I'm a little confused about why they need to be cleared up when other people in similar situations (as Sellers of Stuff) don't seem to have the same issues but perhaps the Golden Ticket which I so often refer to as the glue that binds society together, i.e. "COMMUNICATION", is missing. Perhaps some folks misplaced their ticket, or maybe they just didn't realize they needed one or maybe I lost MINE, but regardless there seem to be a large number of individuals in the same boat. We'll call that boat the S.S. Flounder, just to keep things clear.

So, the people currently on board the S.S. Flounder, the same ones who have lost their Golden Ticket, seem to be in a state of perplexed-ness about something I'm involved with. We're going to call that subject "art". Now I know what you're thinking, that maybe the real problem is that ((shhhh....perhaps I'm not REALLY an artist)), and you might be right. But here's the thing; when I began pointing and clicking and taking what most people refer to as "photos", I had to decide what to call those visual images. I kicked around ideas for quite some time, bantering around such phrases as "Creative Formations", "Abstract Visualizations", "Unusual Things Printed Out Masquerading As Photographs" and even "Strange But Odd Representations Of Objects".

The problem is see, that when you label something a very long and convoluted series of words, you run the risk of A), creating a tongue-twister or B, excessively long and difficult titles. Imagine you are at an event, a fundraiser perhaps, and someone comes up to you and inquires, "would you like to purchase some Strange But Odd Representations Of Objects?" It's complicated and for the above reasons I decided to go with the simple and yet easily understood three-letter word which we call "art".

IS it art? Well, if the Eiffel Tower in Paris is considered and referred to as "art", then no. If you went to a gallery and looked for me, where I wouldn't be (yet), then no; not "art". And if you wanted a stunning summertime beach scenic portrait of your lovely family then no, that's not me. But no worries! We are SURROUNDED in this town by many, MANY individuals who produce "real art" and who have mastered the skills and techniques of the disciplines of paint; print; sketch; cartoon; graffiti and more! YOU ARE IN LUCK!! Please go forth and find those brilliant and talented folk who can provide you with the masterpiece of your dreams!

However, if you want say, a picture of your car, or your barn. Or an old beat up truck. Or a bunch of trucks in a building, which are sometimes referred to as a fire department, then I might just possibly be your person. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. My "Strange But Odd Representations Of Objects" are something - not "art" in the traditional sense of the word perhaps, but by definition, one who puts their stamp or mark or distinctive image on something is in fact, creating "art". And what do I always say about my photos? That they are different, and unique, and not like the rest. And do you know what that means? It means that not everyone is going love them, like them or possibly not even give a HOOT about what I do.That's fine! We live in an awesome world where you don't need to love these "Unusual Things Printed Out Masquerading As Photographs"! It's all good :)

But, if you do enjoy them, find a slightly unusual angle or viewpoint in something I created, or are enjoying the weird-but-slightly-entertaining light in which your vehicle, a glimpse of the boardwalk or a building now appears, well, then we should talk. No pictures that I take are going to rival the Kings and Queens of Coastal Delmarva's Finest Photographers and that's fine. They are artists in their own right and I love much of their work and admire some people greatly. And then there's me, who will rarely take a shot of an entire car because I'm so busy crawling on the ground because I love the chrome and details and those pipes you added. Or maybe it's the aged gentleman at the car show who has been coming each summer for more years than I've been alive and is telling me what it used to be like, how the event grew, why he is alone this time at the show.....I'm listening and absorbing and taking small snapshots of his car and the decades of memorabilia he's showing me....and later on when I post them with the words that paint the picture....then you'll see the story.

A firetruck is just a vehicle and anyone can make their view of it into a spectacular print. But luckily for me, it's so much more than "just a truck" and to come across the person who wants to start talking and telling me the the dedication and commitment and service of what others may just see as an old piece of equipment is to me, the Golden Ticket.

It's sort of how the photo I took of a giant lemon down by the boardwalk, became one of the most popular pictures I ever posted. It was in the sunlight of a fading late-winter afternoon, as another storm receded from our coast and everyone was quietly crossing their fingers behind their backs that this was IT....that the storm which had ended was indeed, the final one of the winter, and as the sun came out to paint the town before slipping over the horizon, it caressed the giant lemon as I was sitting on the ground waiting. And the photo of the lemon, which during the summer months actually turns into a cold, fruity, refreshment stand, once edited and altered, became (I believe), a symbol for the cold winter giving way to the new promise of spring. (at least that's what I think because once shared, others viewed, cheered, read my thoughts, agreed, left emoticons of happiness and so on. It was a happy lemon and a happy image).

Back to the S.S. Flounder. This is where things get sort of jumbled up, because some people aboard this ship tend to view "Real Art" as worthy of, let's say, financial value. And while sailing on the seas of life they might, accidentally of course, because no one can really be mean when looking at a giant lemon(!), imply that my "Abstract Visualizations" are worthless, I'm sure no one really expects me to go lie on the boardwalk in the winter just to get that photo which made them smile, edit and print it, and then offer it to them for free. I realize that today's world may be slightly off-kilter but surely that's not how people go through life, just ordering others to send them a copy of that "Creative Formation", for example. And the ones who might fall into a grey area of perhaps considering insulting my images, maybe in the hopes of (gasp) driving the price down, surely THEY don't really think that such trickery will get some "Strange But Odd Representations Of Objects" just emailed to them at no cost, do they? Of course not! The people on board the S.S. Flounder are simply not thinking! Because whether or not you love what someone else does or creates or produces, thankfully EVERYONE knows that the answer does not lie in being rude.

I love people, my community, the places and faces and buildings and cars and trucks that I've been fortunate enough to take pictures of. I offer a sizeable discount to any first responders on my artwork because those are some of my favorite subjects and if you love a photo of your department or police car because it means something to you, then I want you to have it and not think twice. To me, that IS the Golden Ticket to meet someone who appreciates the work that goes into something, I guess because I'm perhaps a bit of a sucker for things that matter. (oops) But these images carry a story and take time and effort to create and while I'm not purchasing a third beach house over in Hawaii, being able to charge a fair and reasonable price for something with meaning is how it works. If you happen to see that, I thank you and if we happen to do business, great. If it doesn't grab you that's fine too because there's plenty of fish in the sea and there is indeed, an ocean of artwork out there for your walls. :)

Thanks for reading and I wish you safe sailing.

"Life on Delmarva" • #delmarvausa