I am sitting at my computer looking at a new painting, well not new in the sense that it was just completed, but a painting that we rescued from a slow but sure demise. We like to go to estate and yard sales and sometimes buy interesting art that moves us. Today’s find was old, so old the sale manager guessed that it was over a hundred years. It is in very rough shape with over a hundred years of grime on the surface. Yet, the artist’s bowl of white roses is still shining, lo after all these many years.
This experience dovetails nicely with an experience we had a few days ago. The Broad Art Museum had an evening meeting with one of the fine artists who had built an enormous wall installation that was over a hundred feet long. The beautiful string and nail drawing would be coming down in a few days. Though the art community enjoyed and marveled at the artistic endeavor, there is a sad sense about the loss of an art object so much respected and visited so many times in its short life in the museum.
|Close up of Shotz string drawing, White Wave|
The artist, Alyson Shotz and her string drawing, White Wave (2013), became a conduit for heated discussions about the permanence of the art object that we all marvel over. We first think about the sincerity and beauty of the Buddhist mandala sand art that takes days to create but lasts for such a short time. In contrast, on the boulevard near the Broad stands a bronze dancing female figure. She will be dancing for many centuries to come because of the permanent materials used.
|Portion of White Wave (2013), Alyson Shotz string drawing at the Broad|
The question of ephemeral art is very thought provoking. I lean toward more long-lived art. A few weeks ago a young artist asked me how he could get started in oil painting. That is a life time journey but the short answer I gave was use the very best materials you can afford and hopefully you will create meaningful art that you will be able to visit in the years to come. I said this based on my own history of many student art projects that we so loved, but are now dust in some forgotten closet.
And yes there are those messages from the distance past left on the stone walls all over the world. Some are in caves while others are on rock surfaces just above the water line of Lake Superior. We can only imagine the early artist sending greeting messages from another time.
And what about the white roses on the deteriorating canvas? In the sun light we found a few faint red roses hidden in the decades of grime. We create because, well excuse the cliché, we have to. The artists from the past even the distant past were moved to communicate with present and future peoples. We’ll try to help The Roses to live a few more years to bring us beauty. Maybe some restoration will help us to appreciate the artist’s touch from the past and help us see our own world in better light.
|Blue Nautilus, Joel Ellis 24x24 acrylic on canvas|
|Something About Flowers, Joel Ellis 20x24 acrylic on linen|