Special effects vs. the canvas

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Post by Kevin Finklea

Editor’s note: This is part of a thread by artists (Tim McFarlane, Charles Hankin) responding to our LINC Philadelphia posts here and here).

A good gallerist will educate a viewer in the gallery. Cynically we could say this is all to the end of making a sale. I’d like to think this also functions as a way of disseminating ideas to the public. The public isn’t receptive to work unless it has some inroad to the work. …Hence the gallerists and curators really do have a responsibility to promote and educate the public (image, a studio shot of Finklea’s “I Wish I Could be Your Color #7”).

But… there is a much larger problem that neither the artists or the venues themselves can solve. There is simply not enough art education in our schooling here. Art is not considered an important part of one’s education. This goes hand in hand with the historical bias in the general populace against anything intellectual. Culture is perceived as inaccessible to most as it is often viewed as a monied activity. And this in spite of the fact that both producers and handlers of culture often finding themselves at the bottom of the food chain.

Microsecond entertainment

Most importantly, I see that art in particular doesn’t fit into the entertainment complex that Americans addictively plug into on a minute by minute, second by microsecond basis daily…

Artists really can’t compete with the entertainment complex. I don’t know about you but I can’t do special effects when I make a painting. If anything my painting flies deliberately in the face of entertainment. A good bit of what I do requires repeated viewings. The changing of light and it’s effect upon the reading of the painting is critical to the success of the work in my mind. Sorry to say this isn’t about controlled explosions and surgically enhanced actors.

So what can one do to make a viewer slow down to look at art? This is quite a tough question and one that has vexed me for some time. Honestly I don’t see myself altering anything I am doing to either entertain or appeal to anyone. I live by the dictum that one never plays to an audience. And what of the expectation that any viewer should be able to instantly understand a piece of art? I must say that I don’t presume to understand any one else’s discipline with out some preparation and a bit of study. Do any of us reasonably expect to walk into a physicist’s study and understand the work being done? I dare say not. At the end of the day it all apparently comes down to education and taking time to look. Here I am thinking about a comment written by Sid Sachs during postings on criticism in Philadelphia. Do the work.

How terribly unfashionable a notion in this ADHD world of ours. Isn’t there a drug we can take for this? Does any of this come with a remote?
–Kevin Finklea is a regular Artblog contributor. He shows at Pentimenti Gallery.

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