Monday, April 29, 2013

"I Am Art" by David Stodolny

As someone who is very prone to 'museum fatigue,' I really enjoyed this short by Dreamworks animator David Stodolny.

He has a making-of video as well. Great to hear him talk about his process.

I confess to be a person who, most of the time, does not 'get' fine art. I can certainly appreciate the techniques of the old masters - but much of modern and contemporary art especially is lost on me. My interest lies in what most people would call commercial art. I like well-executed drawings of characters with lots of appeal and charisma that make you curious about their story. I like sprawling, epic visuals of fantasy worlds with lots of color. I like art that tells a (fairly) concrete story. I visited the Brewery Arts Complex this past weekend for their biannual art walk and read an artist's statement that had something to do with "breaking down the viewer so they can build themselves up again and find their true self and purpose". The art looked to me like lots of grey and blue and tan smudges on a huge canvas. I guess I didn't try very hard to be broken down and reborn while looking at it, but that certainly wasn't my experience.

However - a while ago I wrote about the Andy Goldsworthy documentary 'Rivers and Tides.' If my memory serves, the movie as a whole asks the question of 'what is art'? More specifically, because it takes so long to build Goldsworthy's pieces, and then he then leaves them to break down over time, when are they art and when are they no longer art? You can go down a very long road with that line of questioning - is art the idea in the person's brain? Is it still art when all the natural pieces he uses have broken up into their separate, individual parts again? Were those pieces art before he even started, merely via their potential to become art?

I have always remembered the very last scene - Goldsworthy walks out into a field in wintertime and throws huge handfuls of snow into the air. He lets the sparkling pieces drift away on the wind and watches them go. And then he turns around and walks back home. I remember, at the time I watched it, having my mind opened to the idea that he had created art that lasted only 4 or 5 seconds.

At the end of the day, it's my belief that 'art' is really anything anyone wants it to be. It's anything you find beautiful, or that appeals to your emotions, or makes you look at or think about something in a different manner than you had before, or that serves its function in an extremely efficient and pleasing way (in which case, the Dyson vacuum that I bought over the weekend is a work of art. THAT is a beautifully functional machine). I may not have 'understood' that artist's work at the Brewery Art Walk this past weekend - but at the end of the day, his art makes sense to him, and it also makes sense to someone who's going to buy it for tens of thousands of dollars, and he'll get to continue living in a beautiful downtown loft throwing colors on canvases all day, so who's really got the last laugh there?


Posts are gonna be really few and far between for the time being - I've even stopped doing daily instagrams (though I'm still making sure to sit with a sketchbook for at least a few minutes every day). Work continues to be crazy, and our lives are about to get crazier still - May and June hold several trips, visitors, AND a new art class (I am signing up tomorrow for Concept Design Academy's 'Sketching for Environment' with Ed Li). My motivation levels are running very low lately, which I think is due to a combination of a crazy work schedule, lack of exercise, lack of a class/artist environment keeping me accountable, and perhaps even a little bit of art burnout. One day I feel like anything is possible and everything is attainable - and the next I feel like I'm peering up through layers and layers and layers of inadequacies and things I'll never have time to learn. It's the ciiIIIIIRRRRclle of LIIIIIiiiife...

© Gina Florio 2013

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