Musings on Photography

Secondhand Art

Posted in art is a verb, the art world by Paul Butzi on May 16, 2007

The sign reads “Authorized Access Only - Washington Farm Bureau”

I was pruning up the Douglas Firs on the stream side of the house today, trying to the reduce the fire hazard close to the house.  If the lowest branches are far enough from the ground, it’s harder for the fire to ladder up into the crown of the tree and turn the entire tree into a torch.  The general idea is to take off all the limbs up to ten feet or so, and the refinements are mostly that it’s unwise to cut off a finger, and it’s wise to not get conked on the head by a falling branch or get sawdust in your eyes.  It’s a satisfying job but it’s not a mentally demanding one, and so I found that my mind was mostly on this passage from Ted Orland’s excellent book The View from the Studio Door (page 41 in my first edition copy):

We live in a society where difficult things are increasingly left to experts and specialists.  So people take vacations to New York City to see the great art, buy CD’s to hear the great performances, subscribe (occasionally) to PBS to watch Masterpiece Theatre – and at a glance it all seems entirely positive, even virtuous.  Yet that all-too-easy access to perfection comes at a steep price: the loss of individual participation in the arts.  In an era where the media confer fame early, instantly, and fleetingly, the opportunity for the measured development of one’s art is the first casualty.  And beyond that, how many artists have the reslience and personality to see their still-developing work placed in driect compettion with the legends in their field?  Not many.  The net result is that we have become a society composed almost entirely of audience.

This is unhealthy, both individually and collectively.  Artists need to feel they have the support of the community in their artmaking efforts – if not for what they have already achieved, then for the potential they represent.  Artmaking is too important to reduce to a spectator sport.  We can’t afford to leave artmaking to a chosen few – the few are not enough.

Art is good stuff.  It’s very important to the proper functioning of our society.  Beyond the fact that our lives are enriched more by making art than by consuming it, making art is just too darn important to leave it to the experts. 

2 Responses

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  1. Mark Bridgers said, on May 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    Musician Michele Shocked once said that “Music is too important to be left to professionals!”. Same for all the arts.

  2. […] Butzi had an interesting post on his blog yesterday.  This is a subject I have pondered many times […]


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