Last night I went to the first of three openings to be held this month at the gallery I am in. They are trying something new by having different art professionals speak about the work, I give them credit beyond belief for taking the time and effort to get this going.
I think I am just too zoned in right now on what isn't working for me personally when I attend openings. What bothered me most last night was the lack of passion the speaker had. She spoke quietly and not engaging enough to stand out in a powerful way. I give her credit for standing up there and starting off the dialogue with bringing up the point that most people look at art and either judge it good or bad. And then they ask WHAT makes it so? They don't know, they don't know what to think or feel and get frustrated by not 'knowing about art'. Its daunting. So she started to expound on abstract art and how people like to compartmentalize it, put it into a box of what it reminds them of and then everyone seems satisfied and moves on. That isn't what art is usually trying to accomplish. You can't say that looks like (fill in the blank) and then feel like you figured it out and hence you 'get it'. If you do that you are sorely missing the point of creativity and expression.
It was a short talk, but seemed long if you know what I mean. I perked up near the end because she asked the audience if they had any questions. Two people did and a small dialogue got started because of that, and THAT was interesting and felt compelling. That is when I realized that the audience really needs to feel free and safe enough to ask and talk about the art. There was this tiny moment when it seemed exciting and like something could happen. But it didn't last long and the engagement part withered and died.
So maybe it isn't about having someone from the outside come in and talk, maybe the artist needs to be the one standing there and letting people look at the work and then come together and talk or ask questions ....comment....ANYTHING ~ but just get people thinking and wondering. There was STUNNING work being presented last night and it would have been much more rewarding for me personally to have heard the artists speak about a few of their pieces. Tell me where you found that beautiful wood to work with....explain to me how the hell you find granite that size and find a way to make it look like a beautiful long body part.
Again, I think of Karen Jacobs post (see my post below) and how she sounds so done with being a part of her own openings. (my interpretation from her posts). What made me sad was how much I love some of her work and I tried to imagine if I were able to go to an artists opening and they weren't there I would feel like I was looking at posthumous work. I would want to find the artist and ask them questions and listen to them discuss their muse, passion, and process. These are things I would want to learn about when I take the time to go to an art opening of someone who's work I admire and appreciate. You can go to any gallery and see all the art you want, but how often to you get to hear the artist talk about what makes them get excited? How they found the materials or inspiration? If you are going to buy art why not get all the nutrients out of it that you can? Someone put their soul into making something, how can you not be interested in that?