We used to (and still do) call it “arts and crap”.
And we can't help it, we are likely insufferable snobs after a fashion. While admittedly everyone of us has personal weaknesses -- and thus I dearly love the domestic projects of Martha Stewart -- it is intersting to note that even the greatest home arts diva ever (why Marta herself) had to admire and coo over the boxes of Joseph Cornell on her new afternoon homemaking show not so long ago. “Is he a known artist?” she asked her dynamic special guest Rosie O’Donnell.
Is that the ambiguous zone where the meaningful line is drawn; where some succinct yet subtle change in value takes place?
It is in mundane moments such as these (amidst the obsessive examining of ingredients in a persimmon jam) when artists like myself, cringe awkwardly and secretly wonder why we sooooooooo love this afternoon television show; why oh why are we glued to every detail, relearning the art of setting a table with eight pieces of monogrammed silverware and including individual crystal salt and pepper dispensers at every individual place? Is this demonstration of homemaking craft really so artful? Or is it crap?
Let us segway now, even if perhaps nonsequiturishly…
Bring out the violins at this instant, if you please.
My family never condoned or supported my ascent into the adult world under the guise (pretense) and aspiration of “artist”. Worse, they choked visibly when I moved on to graduate school in San Francisco with a concentration in Video and Performance. What in the world could I possibly have been thinking? Certainly not about a career. That's what nurses do.
Nevertheless, just the other day I had a surprisingly refreshing and witty conversation with my dear mater of some 80 plus years, who announced quite matter of factly that she had just seen the most amazing art exhibit; had I ever heard of Dale Chihuly?
You mean the guy who has transformed craft into art; art into installation; installation into time sensitive experiences? The guy who makes the most fantastic, large scale, one of a kind, magnificent glass installations? The guy who creates these things piece by piece and who has sacrificed a lung to the cause?
The guy who has made such magnificent designs, each of which must be reassembled at every new exhibit site and even with instructions or with the artist present, never fit together the same way twice? The guy whose work has made the vast and dangerous leap from the realm of artsy gift shops and craft galleries to museums and notable site installations all over the world? It is glass blowing; but not crappy, to be sure.
Yeah… I love that stuff. It is after all what I do, in a parallel sense.
And silly me, I thought my sweet mother and I were well past a mutual understanding of the artistic values and behavior that make me tick, keep me awake at night and inspire me to survive and to keep working, no matter what.
I truly thought she would never get it.
Though by now, as an aside, I must tell you that it actually doesn't matter. Over time, I have come to know that she would love me just the same as a stock broker, a corpoarte manager, a grant writer, a college instructor, an author, a watercolorist, a performance artist, a volunteer at the local middle school (woops!) or a plain old housewife. After all, it turns out that, she has never been able to help herself: she simply loves me as her daughter, whatever the sum of that awesome commitment might entail.
All the same, she told me to make sure that my sister bought tickets before the exhibit at KIA closes in January 2006. Yes, yes... I will, Mom.
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