When I was a child I had a self-created amusement I referred to as Paper People. I would draw people, frequently whole families, carefully cut them out, and write their basic information (name and age) on the back of each person. At the peak of this activity, which lasted for years, I had over 100 paper people. But drawing them was only the start of the process. Once they were crafted I would create whole lives for them. They interacted within their family group and the larger Paper People World in whatever ongoing drama(s) an elementary school kid could imagine. Favorite characters were redrawn as my drawing skill improved or as they became worn out from frequent use. All of that is a way of explaining or rationalizing my fascination with the computer game The Sims because, in essence, the Sims are a more high tech version of Paper People.
But I’m mentioning computer games in my art blog because of computer based digital art. Some people seem very critical of the recent developments in art, spending their time and energy bemoaning modern art and lamenting the lack of standards in painting. I can not help but feel that those people have not seen the art in computer games (check out Kekai Kotaki and Jaime Ro) or bothered to look at the work of San Jaya Prime or Vera Zivojinovic (both fractal artists that I follow on Instagram) online or even typed #oilpainting into the search box on Instagram to look at the over 2 million posts using a traditional medium. It seems more like a knee jerk response to imagined change than any actual fact-based reasoning.
On my recent trip to the Denver Art Museum to see the exhibition of The Women of Abstract Expressionism (which you can read more about here) we came across an example of the knee-jerk response to abstract art. We were loitering out front of the exhibit, admiring the museum’s showmanship in displaying each woman’s name, visage, and an example of her artwork when an older mixed-gendered couple, probably in their late 50’s, with an even older woman in a wheelchair exited the elevator – my impression was they took mom to the art museum. As the elevator doors closed they looked towards the Abstract Expressionism exhibition and the oldest woman proclaimed “I hope he didn’t think we wanted to see THAT.” Now I’m sure you can see the myriad of issues/minor insulting insinuations contained within her statement. But it was a knee jerk based on what she expected to see at an art museum and what she wants to consider art and which, for her and based solely on one off the cuff statement, seems to be a very small window that hasn’t changed its view for a hundred years. Unfortunately, for some people it seems to be hundreds of years.
Who knows if she might have liked the artwork? They turned back to the elevators, got back in and we never saw them again. Perhaps she would have enjoyed the exhibit from a feminist perspective by considering the struggles and victories of artists who in all likelihood were in her age group. I believe we would have gotten that type of reaction from my wife’s 85-year old mother. She wouldn’t really appreciate the artwork but would be a little blown away by women who had eschewed more traditional roles to paint. I also believe my mother, who is in her late 60’s, would have been all about it and would have wanted to talk about the feminism, and the colors, and the texture, and the size, and … ad nauseam.
So, in a blatant effort to appeal to some folks that seem nostalgic:
[Imagine an eyeglass wearing Liverpudlian on a bed]
[cue guitar music]
Abstraction, contemporary, fractals,
video, performance, computer generated,
All I am saying is give modern art a chance.