This month’s Free First Tuesday at SF MOMA was attended by yours truly and hundreds of others. I found it as interesting to people-watch as to art-watch. On exhibit were a variety of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, and referred to as “Calder to Warhol.” I thoroughly enjoyed the art and the people who were reviewing the galleries with me. By the end of the afternoon I found myself wondering why it is that people enjoy Art at all. But they so obviously do. People were smiling, laughing, really having a good time. So just what is it about art that brings about this positive response? The exhibited pieces can run a gamut from somewhat simplistic (the “I coulda done that!” pieces) to those created with very complex and difficult craftsmanship. Some pieces are merely mind-boggling (the “Huh?!” pieces).
So by the end of my visit I was asking myself the age-old question “What is Art?” And why do people enjoy it? My conclusion on this first Tuesday was that people find art, any kind of art, stimulates their imaginations and causes them to feel that creation is something possible in all of us. Anything juxtaposed with anything can cause you to ask yourself questions, or to look at something in a new way or to think something more is possible outside of our mundane day to day existence, the daily work and routine of our lives. Good art has nothing to do with ego or even a faithful and skilled representation of “reality”.., it has much more to do with “I wanna put this with that and sprinkle it with sequins….” – not because it will cause the artist to be considered “brilliant” but because you just want to make something new that appeals to you. And if someone else wants to try to figure out where you were coming from, let ’em! The “artistic process” or the medium is also not really very important. It is the fact that art is created at all and put into an objective form and brings us out of our stuck routines and into the present moment. Art is a subtle challenge to our minds, spirit and soul. And we seem to appreciate that. Whether art is minimalist or complex, it evokes a needed response in its audience.
For me, the best art is something that doesn’t quite make sense, it seems a little “off” for some reason. And because of that, it becomes Art because I must “see” it, I recognize my surprise or awe, and in so doing I am brought out of the fog and into a different place, a place with more clarity and vivid presence.