Google+ Followers

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

THE WILL TO FIND ART


patterns of the flow

Why am I drawn to artistic self-expression? It's deep on the inside, so deep I have no conscious recollection of anything that triggered it in early childhood. I believe it must be experience in past lives that pulled my interest to art at an early age. In the early 1990s I paid fairly close attention to astrology, did my own past-life regressions without a facilitator. I'm recalling a day when I was six or seven, standing in the front yard where we lived in Kansas City, Kansas, Argentine township. I was at a time in the life of recognizing self as white. I was thinking of the Indians, what the white middle class calls the Native Americans. I remember looking at my white arm and feeling deep regret that "my people" will not recognize me when they see me white. I realized I was doomed to a lifetime of living on the side of the enemy of my people, the people that killed my family, my extended family, my tribe, my people. It was an unforgettably heavy-hearted day recognizing I was alone in this world; my people will only see me as the enemy. At that age, I had nothing to go by. Never heard of past lives, parents didn't know about anything like that, nor neighbors, nor other kids. I think I died too young in the recent Indian lifetime at age 14 to have accrued enough karmic crimes to condemn my soul to a lifetime as a white man, the most vile enemy of the Indian people. I think I was a white man before the Indian lifetime, too, an artist in north-western Europe, a post-impressionist who, I imagine was so disappointed and discouraged by Western Civilization by the end of that lifetime when I popped a cap in my head. I wanted to leave civilization and came up next time in a Plains Indian tribe, alas in the last years when the US Army was in full genocidal regalia. Turned up next time a woman who died young in the same part of the world as the time before, north-western Europe, taken by Germans to a concentration camp and gassed in 1941. Born in USA 1942, and grew up in the very center of the country, Wizard of Oz world. I'm afraid I saw that movie in the hard times of German occupation or just before, and wanted to go to Kansas where everything is great.

patterns of the flow

Before the mass buffalo slaughter that gave Buffalo Bill his name he wore with pride, Kansas and all the states from North Dakota to Texas were a great prairie of tall grass the buffalo ranged from Canada to Texas. It was just right. Now, preservationists keep small patches of the buffalo grass protected to keep the strain alive, so maybe it can survive this time of mass extinctions so vast we can't think about it, and do nothing about it but advance the extinctions. Now the Texas Oil Cartel is aiming to run a pipeline down through the prairie states, the great American oil spill slice through the heartland. We don't hear anything about extinctions anymore. Nobody cares. Nobody ever cared. A few people tried to make something of it, but nobody much paid them any mind. Everybody knows we have no power over the corporations destroying our earth and blaming it on us. Television took care of its role keeping the population unconscious and distracted, at odds with one another. What we have of a middle class culture is a sitcom. Television is the only input. American movies now are made for tv, their major market after first run. Television deals in the obvious. I live in a world of people who have spent their lives watching television, Americans. Subtlety, irony, satire are gone with exceptions, the Onion and South Park. But their humor is in the obvious. Lotsa action of every sort. Nothing serious. Just a whole lot of killing going on. You don't have to worry about missing something if you go to the kitchen for a few minutes to make a sandwich. You know how it's going to turn out. Sure, television is an art form. So is a fifteen minute painting. Tv is more about population manipulation than art. I grew up in a home where the television was the shrine, chairs arranged in a half circle around it. Reading not allowed. Daddy thought Norman Rockwell was art, took some night classes to learn how to draw like Rockwell. I only knew of the Nelson Art Museum in Kansas City through school when we had a class trip to the museum one day in 5th grade for an educational walk through. Never saw or heard of it again. Longed to, but I was not a free agent. Turns out it was not far from where my grandparents lived, but nobody knew it. I had no idea where it was. It was a big city, especially to a kid.
 
patterns of the flow
 
High school in Wichita had an art class. I wanted to be in it, looked in through the open doorways, didn't have enough self-esteem to give it a try. Plus, everything I saw around the room on the walls looked dorky. I did not want to do dorky art. I'd rather do nothing than what I saw in the room. Of course, I have no memory of what exactly I saw, only memory of my interpretation of what I saw. It looked stupid to me. If I was going to do art, I didn't want to do stupid art. I was probably looking at it with an idea of Rockwell realism the ideal and they were doing loose, colorful things. Aesthetically, I came out of a cave. That part of the country is a cultural wasteland. Chicago was the only place in that part of the world with a modern art museum in the late 1950s, anyway that I knew of.  I grew up in a world where I learned that no matter what interested me, it was someplace else, some place I was not. Nothing but church and television for input besides school, which I had little motivation for. The first time a work of art really caught my attention was in Chicago, age 19. I went to the modern art museum there, 1962, and saw a lot of paintings I did not get, felt like I was in a new world, paintings like I could not even imagine. I saw a smallish painting by Salvador Dali of two giraffes with fire for manes. It spoke to me mightily. I didn't try to figure it out. Didn't even have a starting place for that. It just connected with me that this guy blows my mind. Perhaps, too, I connected with the Rockwell realism, the only art of my experience before that day. The two years in the Navy were not exactly an aesthetic time, except for watching the surface of the ocean. They called it "skylarking." I didn't care what they called it. I loved being on the ocean aesthetically. The ocean is amazing to look at, experience and think about. One thing for certain, the ocean is indifferent to the human ego. Reading Henry Miller in the Navy introduced me to an interest in art. I liked Miller's aesthetic interest, that the painters he liked were the ones that lived around him that he knew in northern California, Big Sur, not the ones in New York. He opened an aesthetic interest in me that was already there.
 
patterns of the flow
 
The college I went to had no art class and no interest in art anywhere. It was the last half of the Sixties when Pop was happening in New York, an exciting time in the art world. I'd become aware of the abstract expressionists as "pure" art, then Pop popped that bubble right away and definitively. I went to New York for a few days to see Museum of Modern Art and see the real thing I'd only been able to see in photographs, like Warhol's soup cans, Jasper Johns' target and painted flags, Robert Rauschenberg's paint-splattered bed quilt, a taxidermied longhaired billy goat with a tire around its waist and paint smeared on its head. Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollack, a whole new world had opened to me. It was a world I did not know existed. Larry Rivers, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, people whose art I fell in love with. On my own in the college years I read about Surrealists, Dadaists, Expressionists, Abstract Expressionists, Pop and everything about modern art I could find, even reading Harold Rosenberg on the Fifties period. Over the college years I gave myself a good education in modern art and how it got that way. Later, after leaving the city for the mountains, I thought I came to the mountains for the peace to write. That didn't happen. I was forcing the writing too much and stopped, telling myself I will not write again until whatever I have to say writes itself. That didn't happen for a long time. It surfaced in the drawing and painting.  Didn't do anything but work. After the first seven year cycle in which I did nothing but work and read. The next seven year cycle started with taking up drawing to get through the winters. Made pencil drawings of local people and buildings through that cycle. Next cycle I took up painting with oil. Came to me automatically like I'd been doing it since childhood. Five years ago I started writing this daily blog as online journal and interest in painting is waning. This has been a kind of chronology of opening to and discovering art from a wasteland. Part 2 coming up soon I'll dive deeper into motivations that drove my curiosity and interest from a world that did not honor art in any way, didn't even know what it was, to finding art everywhere.  
 
patterns of the flow
 
*

 

1 comment:

  1. Love love love this blog...I am interested especially in how you did a past life regression with no help from an expert...I have past lives I can feel but not see...would like to know how you did it. I have a grandmother who was mexican and a grand father who was full blooded indian...do not know much more than that as my parents divorced when I was a toddler..I have only faint memories....I lived at the art institute in Chicago when ever I could get in to the city. This was just an all around great blog...giving me a little more insight into who Tj is...

    ReplyDelete