Monday, July 18, 2011


(Matt Jones, 2011)

Ok, fine. Maybe I’ll start blogging again.

I’ve joined the IDP Art Group, which meets every other week. We meditate a bit then talk about art (that I know about) in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m noticing two divides, neither unconquerable, neither surprising, but then yes, surprising, because they are so obvious. One is age, the other is gender. Today just a bit about the former.

I’m somewhere in the middle in terms of age (I’m 39), but I’m clearly not among the youngest. (One girl said to me (in a discussion about Cory Archangel), “For MY generation, Mario Brothers was part of how we grew up. She apparently thinks of me as her mom). The youngest seem to want art to push the envelope and break away from art history. Sure, I can see the appeal, although I don’t think newness is really that new, or that interesting as a focus. What I want to feel is a spirit in what I see. It’s hard to describe what I mean by that word, often an eye-roller. One member (on the older side of our spectrum) explained feeling wowed by the release of a Christopher Wool spray painted arch. I get it. Release is a good word to qualify spirit. In my mind, medium, technology, even subject, are vehicles.

One dude, younger, but not the youngest, has made drawings of his iPhone weather page. He finds pleasure in waking up to sixty-nine (degrees). Sure. I do like this drawing, but I find more long-lasting pleasure in the marker marks, the color, the touch, which are the difference between a drawing and the impersonality of the weather screen. So in this case, the spirit, is the person’s twist.


Matt Jones said...

Glad you've started blogging again. As the "dude, younger, but not the youngest" I have an inside track to this post ;)
I used this drawing to explain a way to help alleviate suffering in sentient beings. I take my work seriously, I work really hard, and most of the content has to do with some pretty serious stuff (who we are, where we come from, where we're going - aka philosophy, spirituality, and science; though, maybe not in that order).
Now and then I let it all get kinda silly with a cultural reference or bit of juvenile humor. I've been laughing at 69 since Billy Madison made it funny in 1995. Approaching something as silly as this with the same seriousness of the rest of my work makes sense to me.
I don't get off on marks or style alone, I always need more, richer, deeper content than the way something is made or how something looks. No harm if someone doesn't need that, I guess, but I sure as heckfire do (not that heckfire is actually assured, plenty of non-Christians don't believe in heckfire).

Molly Stevens said...

Hey, thanks for writing. My thing with content is that what the artist thinks is his/her content, may not be what is most salient. Yes, of course, if a work is conceptually flat or plain old dumb, facture ain't gonna save it. But content from a serious-minded artist (like yourself, or myself)is not always what lasts.

Matt Jones said...

I hear that. Mark making doesn't seem that consequential though, in an individualized manner. Too specific. The right combination of the two is probably best. I dunno. Saying that (combination of the two is best) feels like a copout so I'll retract it. There's probably no answer here. Just more thoughts, experience, and engagement.

Molly Stevens said...

I think it is probably a combo. I've personally spent so much time being heady that the mark represents breaking out of thought space. For me, the spirit of the mark is radical.

Max Stevems said...

I'm glad you're blogging again!

Matt Jones said...

I don't know that I believe in "the spirit" of anything in any specific sense. I was beaten over the head with ideas of "the mark" and associated "blah blah blah" in college that I'm just about 0% interested in "the mark".

Molly Stevens said...

OK, I can understand that. It's imperative to get away from school dogma. No one ever talked to me about "the mark," just conceptual "blah, blah, blah" that had nothing to do with what you actually SEE when you're in front of a work. Yes, "spirit" is a tricky word, but there's got to be a way to describe what the variation of feeling you can have when you're in front of artwork. How would you describe the the dynamism it does or does not impart?

Matt Jones said...

how do I describe the "spirit" dynamism? I usually talk about something having "presence" like a person has "presence". There's a difference between one person or another person entering a room for various people. That person has presence that mixes with the presence (or affects/reflects/interacts with, etc.) of the people in the room. A good artwork's presence is such that I want to be with it. Good is a relative term of course. I worry that this conversation, while helpful in certain regards, is essentially meaningless. Do you get that a little? Like we'll talk round and round about these ideas and it comes down to language (versions of meanings encompassed by various words) and taste (what I like vs. what everyone else likes). I try to fight taste a lot and probably end up getting further sucked into whatever taste I have or don't have or will have. In my head is an idea of what is "obvious" or "generic" or "easy" and I often equate that with "expression" or "mark making" when I can't see anything deeper (Kara Walker is an example of "expression" and not easy - though honestly i have my doubts often). Tastelessness is something I find very interesting. I'd rather read about science (tasteless) or history (a bit of taste depending on what you're reading) than look at most art (super tasteful). Thing is I'm not actually intrigued my by art itself, much more so by the ideas that go into making art. Anyone with enough practice can be taught to make tasteful artworks, pretty things, well rendered things, anything in any style, with enough practice. I don't know that anyone can be taught how to be inspiring or how to make actually inspiring things. Kippenberger did that. Polke did that. Goya did that. ... I'm talking big deal stuff. Not "I like this" stuff but stuff that's HUGE, global but not really global and not universal b/c that's corny and no one seriously believes that means anything. I mean big ideas and big ways to go about making them (and I'm not talking scale).

Ramble ramble ramble. Off to the Mets game!

Molly Stevens said...

Let's go Mets. Mets are the attempt at art; Yankees are Gagosian.
And by the way, I still believe in the universal. More soon...

Matt Jones said...

oh man. What IS the universal? What does that even MEAN? It'd be impossible b/c of all the possible situations, views of the near infinite number of situations, lives and experiences in them leading to the experiencing the situations ... on and on. How could a universal be real? The only thing I believe in is exceptions. There are ALWAYS exceptions, to everything.
On baseball: I don't care who is playing. I will watch any game and always root for the home team. I have gone to as many Yankees games as Mets games. I'd cheer for the Red Sox if I went to Fenway (and I dislike Boston immensely).

LXV said...

You guys are scaring me with all this meaninglessness! But I listened to both games last evening.

It might be a generational thing—I am now safely past middle age—but I find taste to be reassuring. I can't quantify or qualify it (as in: you have no taste, good taste, abysmal taste or something is tasteful), but it helps me to identify my tribe through ineffable visual means.

Although in times of crisis, I have come to detest the taste in my own mouth; it is usually a signal of impending psychic change.

The role of taste in artistic effort can strangle the output. I keep thinking that's what Molly is talking about: one of many fetters which impede & distort the impulse. But yet, it defines us to ourselves and others like us. Sometimes the facture is enough. It stimulates pleasure sensors. Is this a bad thing?

Molly Stevens said...

Good to hear from you LXV,

I like your comments.I will be thinking about your last paragraph.

Of course, visual pleasure is a good thing, in my book! It's a break from the real world!