Art or Not?

Art or Not, that is the question. Who decides what is art and what is not? These two ideas have been hemmed and hawed over for centuries, but I think that the focus is in the wrong spot. Who cares if it is actually classified as art or not? Who cares who determines the qualifications for a good piece of art? One look at something will tell you, the viewer, whether or not it is art….according to you. Does it matter if the dude you’re standing beside thinks it looks like burnt wood, and not like art at all? No, unless you let their opinion go to your head.

Let me give you an example of this controversy of things being art or not.

Friday marked my very first time experiencing art exhibits and their receptions, and I was able to see two! These receptions were held in local galleries which gave local artists a little piece of spotlight and local people the opportunity to get a glimpse into the world of local art. I was enthralled. I like art, but I have never really experienced art. (if that makes any sense at all) I was even more wide eyed when the artist himself, Chuck Frye, came up and began talking to me about some of his pieces. What a treat! I am a virgin when it comes to art, discussing art, looking at art, analyzing art…you get the point. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how easy it was to appreciate something without completely understanding it.

This particular exhibit by Frye was entitled, “Raining Cats and Dogs.” It was a magnificent, and very real, representation of man’s best friend (and their feline counterpart). Frye was able to give life, personality, and attitude into every single one of his pieces. This was art that I could enjoy. I love dogs; therefore, it was easy for me to appreciate Frye’s exhibit. Does this mean that Frye’s work is art and other artists who depict other things are not art? Certainly not! It does not even mean that Frye’s work is considered “good” in the world of art (although I would venture to say that it is more than “good”). It simply means that I valued it as a work of art, enough said.

Fast-forward about 20 minutes and I find myself wandering through yet another exhibit. This one I cannot figure out. I cannot even begin to relay the kinds of pieces that were on display because they were too disjointed. Yet, that was the point. I mean, they even named the exhibit, “Psychobabble.” The name is the only thing in the whole exhibit that made any sense. My brain does not work like that; “Psychobabble” was not art to me…it was weird. There was a fort made of cardboard boxes, a table that was littered with strange objects that did not seem connected, and then a whole room full of pieces that I cannot even describe. Does that mean it is not art? No, other people were able to appreciate something that I was simply unable to see.

Art is subjective and that is why many people have such a difficult time processing it. Which is weird because food is just as subjective and people don’t say, food or not? I mean, it’s all food…even if the eater doesn’t like it. Maybe the problem isn’t the art, it’s the viewer? I suppose this post was actually a way for me to tell you about losing my art virginity and not really arguing for the subjectivity of art.

One Response to Art or Not?

  1. Dawn G. says:

    Very well put.