Sunday, May 17, 2015

No Accountin' For It

I took the above photo to illustrate an issue that I grapple with on a regular basis. The way art is perceived is so subjective that I often find myself in a head-scratching, "huh? what?" frame of mind. There are so many artists, writers and performers who never get the break they deserve, but conversely, there are too many who get recognition for stuff that sends my aesthetic dander to the stratosphere.
The sculpture above sits at a public building in my town and undoubtedly cost a packet of money to have commissioned and installed. Yet, gratis, my dog produces nearly identical work every morning on my front lawn. In whose eyes does the bronze version look like anything worthy of commemoration?
The New York Times list of best selling fiction is rife with titles that are the literary equivalent of Mountain Dew. These books might give you a quick rush, but they'll rot your teeth. They are financial angels for author and publisher, but demons for readers. Fifty shades of high-priced marketing will, clearly, put any kind of sleazy, hackneyed crap on the best-seller list.
Where are the emperor's clothes?
Last week, the Art Institute conferred an honorary doctorate upon Kanye West. Really? The Chicago Tribune sang his praises with an op-ed piece titled "The Brilliant Kanye West" and described him as a "creative and wide-ranging thinker." Really? This is a guy who boasts about not reading. And don't even get me started on the ah, attributes of his wife and her family.
Great diversity in culture should be encouraged and celebrated, but the operative word is culture. Culture: "the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education"--Merriam Webster Could someone please explain either the intellectual or moral merits possessed by Mr. West?
Oh, wait, it's all about the marketing, isn't it?
I recall that grand old adage, somewhat revised for this post: one person's art is another person's dog shit.