>Don’t Be Afraid of Art

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Rhymes With Orange, (c) Hilary Price, 
Used with Permission of the Artist

When I laugh out loud at the funnies, it’s often at Rhymes With Orange (I’ve been know to cry at Funky Winkerbean and For Better and For Worse too.) Hannah, my 12-going-on-24-year-old, rolls her eyes. What is so funny NOW, Mom?

I admit to be being a huge RWO fan. In five to 10 words and a cartoon drawing Hilary Price nails the idiosyncrasies of relationships, mothers, food, cats (and the people they chose to tolerate), dogs (and the people they live for), God, politics — you name it!

This one, The Working Artist, hit home. There’s a sad little joke among artists: if you want the perfect picture — the one that people will knock down your doors to get — just paint a clown holding a bouquet of flowers, standing in front of a barn. Why? Because those are the safest images that everyone seems to want.

They’re pretty. They’re universal. They won’t cause a fuss.

Ok, maybe it’s the tanking economy or the rampant government corruption or the notion that it’s OK to lie if we say it often enough and don’t back down — but I’m ready to cause a fuss!

“Safe” art isn’t getting us anywhere. “Safe” art matches your sofa and picks up the colors of the accent pieces in a room. “Real” art matches your soul. “Real” art takes you beyond yourself. It can be pretty too, but it will won’t let you just glance at it without demanding something back.

What does that have to doing with “making a fuss?” Art is life. Period. If we need “safe” art around us, it stands to reason that we might be afraid of what’s out there. We might not be ready to demand what we deserve: decent health care, honest public servants, jobs that pay a living wage, challenging education for our kids, safe food and water and air.

I’m not ready to get rid of the flowers and waterscapes and still lifes in my body of work, but I’m glad to have a reminder that art is, primarily, a method of communication. Everyone has something to say, and we have an obligation to say it. And we have an obligation to hear what others say, without belittling or demeaning or demonizing them in the process. But that’s a two-way street too.

I have a bumper sticker on my van: “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” The whole quote, from Gray Panther Maggie Kuhn, is “Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”

Now THAT was a woman who knew how to raise a fuss!

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About jeanevogelart

Art saves lives. That's my mantra and my motivation. My primary purpose as an artist is to inspire, entertain, make you smile, make you mad, make you think or recall a memory. I strive for work that is intimate and genuine, and sometimes whimsical. It's always more than a "pretty picture." I demand a relationship.
This entry was posted in Art, Humor, Soap_Box, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to >Don’t Be Afraid of Art

  1. >Just because someone is making “safe” art doesn’t mean it will sell anyway. Art that lacks sincerity and that isn’t genuine will not appeal to everyone, and most people can sense whether or not you are being “real” in your work. It is a matter of doing what you want to do and finding your audience more than anything else. Some people like and respond to things that aren’t “safe” and see those works as being dull, cliched and done to death.However, that doesn’t mean that “safe” subjects should be taboo, just that you should do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do. I make a lot of controversial work, but sometimes I just want to get away from that and make something pretty for a change. This is part of why I am drawn to plein air painting and jewelrymaking. And there is nothing wrong with that, so long as I am honest with myself. Not everything I do needs to rock the boat… 🙂

  2. Jeane Vogel says:

    >Jennifer,Yes, of course. I was really reacting more to people who gravitate to the safe work because they are afraid of being unconventional. Or the artist who sells out.Mostly, as a working artist, Hilary Price’s cartoon struck a nerve. It surprised me where it took me, but that’s part of the joy of creation, isn’t it?Jeane

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