Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When I said 'no', I meant it

It's a gorgeous day here in Chicago Illinois, or so it would seem. Yesterday I was able to re-log a bunch of tapes, and log in tapes of the Jeffrey Brown and Joe Chiappetta interviews. Got 'em looking really good.

We went to the Art Institute on Sunday, as it was the last free day (they had the whole month of February free, and I discovered that fact on the 26th). As I walked around, doing my best Cameron in front of that Seurat painting used in Ferris Bueller, I naturally started thinking about the artists in the museum and the ones I've been chatting with, and obviously, John Porcellino.

I know others have spoken far more eloquently to this point than I could hope to, but it makes me want to pull my hair out when I think of how different forms of art are viewed within society, and in particular how comics/cartoons are viewed as a lesser form of art when compared to basically anything else. I'm not even talking about Caravaggio here!

My 'definition' of art, as it were, is that it is the by-product of how a person grapples with the unanswerable questions in life, primarily, 'what the heck are we doing here?' and 'what happens after we die?'

They ask the question, and the 'answer' they came up with is their 'art product'. It can be pretty, funny, ugly, profound, sad, shallow, deep, or pretty much anything else.

It's how a person relates to the world around them, both physically and emotionally. I confess, I'm sort of one of those people who views a crumpled up straw wrapper on a restaurant table as 'art' in some ways.

(As I write this, I'm vaguely wondering if John P. is going 'Uh-oh, I'm going on the road with this hippie?!?')

I think the benefit art gives to society is in how it helps other people define THEIR place in the world, and ask they questions THEY need to ask.

I do believe that's why......
a) There's a lot of really bad art. If anyone can do it, and it's sort of everywhere, well then the quality is going to -- on regular occasions -- be not so great.

b) Art is subjective. This gets into the positives and negatives of art criticism (which I'd like to avoid here) , but it's hard to deny the old adage, 'one person's trash is another's treasure'.

c) It's important to have some amount of technical skill, and it's ok to judge art. Just because everyone can do it, doesn't mean that it's all speaking to you. Just because it's good for the person to DO it, doesn't mean it's good for everyone to experience it. A little practice makes everything better.

Anyway, my point here is that I think it's FANTASTIC that the 'art world' has embraced certain kinds of outsider art -- graffiti, mural work, guerilla political stuff, and so on. But doesn't it make sense they'd have a little love for comics?

I looked at the comic up top, and then one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings, and the only real difference was the nagging voice in my mind that people would go, "You're comparing John to VAN GOGH!?!? Give me a BREAK!"

But that's only because VVG has a rep. Forget about that. Look at the two pieces -- free of fame/value baggage -- and you'll see (I think) some of the same tensions, some of the same phrasings, and well, maybe agree that they could be in the same room.

I mean, assuming John would color his in.

I have a lot more thoughts on this, but do need to do things today like my day job, pay bills, go for a run, do the dishes, etc. etc. etc. BUT my whole (original) point is that while the AIC doesn't have comic art, they do have a very very respectable comic selection in one of their shops. And --- surprise surprise -- John P. and Noah Van Sciver are in it!

That's right, nestled in among all the other hip indie cartoonists were two copies of our very own John P.'s King Cat Classix. Way to go John!

Then I started thumbing through a copy of 'The Comics Journal' and thought, 'well surely Noah's in this one', and sure enough -- it's the one with the John P. interview, which is kind of amazing.

Not bad for a couple of self publishers! Good work, boys.

Oh, in film news, I've relaxed A BUNCH. I think I was getting super antsy/stressed thinking, 'holy shit, people KNOW I'm doing this, I gotta get it done!' But, if it's going to be good, I've got to take the time to make it good. So, well, there. I'm giving myself a year to get it finished, and if it needs longer, it'll let me know, and I'll let y'all know.

The John P. clip, BTW, comes from a great site called What Things Do, which I strongly recommend.

PS -- Let me add a PS here, because that voice is nagging pretty strongly. I'm not trying to be melodramatic, saying, 'oh he's like van gogh', I'm really not. I'm wanting to point out that Van Gogh's work -- while amazing -- is wildly exaggerated (largely because of the costs of it), and when taken at face value, there are a good number of legitimate comparisons, and that the bottom line is good art speaks to you. These guys both speak to me, and in surprisingly similar ways -- not the least of which being their (accidental) vows of poverty.

1 comment:

  1. I read an interview with Art Spiegelman years ago, where he talked about how when he was young and only into comics, somebody got him into Picasso by saying, "Don't think of it as fine art. Just look at it as something somebody made, with a brush or a pen." Essentially, put aside your high/low culture filter. It's good advice for an artist, and for the viewers of art, too.