Art is not concrete
Art is not concrete
A while ago, Pearl, Opal and I sat on the porch waiting for Jana to return home from her teaching job at Whitehorse High School.
When she arrived, we lingered a while longer, watching the blood-red sun dip behind the sandstone cliffs, marveling at the beauty.
As is often the case, this sunset put me in a philosophical mood, so I mentioned my ideas relating to God and various world and local religions.
In no time at all, we had gone through a great deal of spiritual material. As we sat on the front steps winding up our thoughts, I could feel the cold of the cement porch seeping into my bones.
Thinking I was extremely clever, I pointed down and said, “Well, God is not concrete. Instead of being cold and hard like these steps, He is warm, flexible, compassionate, varied; difficult to precisely define.”
Pearl and Opal seemed convinced, Jana not so much.
Since I know more about art than I do about God, I began to think about that statement in terms of the artistic creations we buy and sell at Twin Rocks Trading Post.
It did not take long to realize that art too is not concrete. Trying to define art is a lot like trying to understand love.
There are simply too many permutations to actually get your arms around the concept.
Several years ago, Gregory Holiday brought in a sculpture of four or five Kokopelli figures dancing across a piece of driftwood.
This was long before Kokopelli became well known, so the carving seemed extremely innovative.
I remember standing behind the counter for what seemed like an interminable period trying to decide whether Gregory had made something extraordinary or just more firewood.
After about a half hour, Gregory became anxious and started shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Assuming he needed to use the facilities, I directed him to the back of the store.
No, he assured me, he did not need the restroom; he was merely impatient for me to make a decision. One way or the other, he needed to move on.
About that time, my dad walked in and said, “Hey, that’s nice. Why don’t you buy it.”
Thinking Duke was probably right, I purchased the sculpture and put it up on a shelf. Less than an hour later, a customer came in, spotted the carving, raved about how beautiful and creative it was and insisted I sell it to him.
“Surely,” I thought, “I have no idea what is and is not great art.”
Having spent over three decades at the trading post, I have come to understand there are no strict definitions of art, and that art is not hard or static.
Instead, the best art is fluid, simple, clean, warm, sophisticated, moving, touching, inspiring and many other things I cannot even begin to explain.
I have also realized that art is about the people who create, sell and collect it.
For me, art is personal. I feel the creators are at least as important as the creations; so much of what we do at Twin Rocks is in support of the artists who live and work in the Four Corners region.
Of course, we enjoy the constantly changing merchandise. Maybe it is the God in art or the art in God that convinces me neither is concrete or subject to strict interpretation.
Both are personal and subject to a variety of interpretations that are ever-changing and infinitely beautiful.