Went to an opening at the local arts center this afternoon. It was a big show–two whole floors of a largish building–because every member of the arts center was guaranteed to have at least one piece accepted. Alas, almost everyone at the reception was an artist, and I saw no more than three red dots (indicating sales) while I wandered around. This was the first time I showed one of my new clay pieces, and the setting hen, which had seemed so robust and substantial while I was working on her, looked pale and wan on her shelf in the show.
Afterwards we met several artist friends at a Chinese restaurant. While I ate my eggplant in garlic sauce–it was actually eggplant in syrupy glop–there was a discussion about whether the work of certain accomplished but conservative local artists had \”soul.\”
Things got intense, and I kept fighting the urge to shout, \”Hold it for a minute! Would you please define your terms?\” But I held my peace–every \”definition\” would have sparked another discussion–and concentrated on the sticky eggplant.
The old questions about art that used to set me on fire–what gives it soul, what makes it honest, what makes it good or bad–now leave me tepid. Art, I have decided, should be looked at in silence–reverent or irreverent depending on the looker. And it should be enjoyed, if it is to be enjoyed at all, in solitude. Talk just gets in the way.
Back home I was glad, when I went to shut the chickens in for the night, to see that my real hens are as robust and substantial as I could wish.