ART QUOTES: Do the Work

Rivera Frida

Diego Rivera “The Pan American Unity Mural” detail

His capacity for work breaks clocks and calendars.

-Frida Kahlo, on her husband Diego Rivera

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Jackson Pollock “Portrait and a Dream”

A man’s life is his work; his work is his life.

-Jackson Pollock

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Claude Monet “House of the Customs Officer, Varengeville”

When I work I forget all the rest.

-Claude Monet

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Edouard Manet “The Railway”

I need to work to feel well.

-Edouard Manet

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M.C. Escher “Stars”

My work is a game, a very serious game.

-M.C. Escher

ARTICLE: The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 2: The Corcoran Collapse

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Corcoran Quality

“…rich, expansive and uniquely integrated academic curricula grounded in real-world experiences.”

A Quote from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design Graduate Studies webpage 

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As prospective college students spend the summer looking forward to starting a new chapter in their lives, they need to understand the consequences of the decisions made about about schools and majors. Straight from the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Washington, DC, comes a cautionary tale about studying art at the college level.

In the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott wrote about the collapse of the Corcoran School of Art and Design and its associated gallery at this link: “The Corcoran Gallery is going away just as its mission is more important than ever.”

First founded as the Corcoran School of Art in 1890, the school was the result of the can-do, civic-minded energy typical of the Modern era. The school was the legacy of William Wilson Corcoran, a wealthy merchant and collector of American art. According to Kennicott, Corcoran held an idealistic view of putting an art school right in the middle of the nation’s capitol; his hope was:

“Art would guide politics, forge an American identity, spur patriotic sentiment, reform morals and instill a sense of excellence in the nation’s leaders.”

Poor Corcoran had more vision and imagination than the art world he supported so optimistically. In the twentieth century the arts were quickly co-opted by the global Utopian statists. The elitist art world has no interest in serving the national interest; there’s nothing less fashionable to these totalitarians than American identity, morals and excellence.

As a result, the establishment art world is toxic to almost everyone who is not hooked into it in some professional or virtue signalling capacity. Kennicott gets a twofer here, as he is being paid to write about it, and he gets to broadcast that he, too, shares in the  puzzlement the coastal aristocracy feels when the public roundly ignores the corrupted stylings of our contemporary cultural institutions:

“When it comes to art in America, there has been both a triumph and a failure of confidence: American artists are second to none, in a country where art has become marginal.”

“And the Corcoran’s collection, even those ‘nudities and crudities,’ is newly relevant to scholars studying art through the lens of social history, race, gender and identity.”

Does it ever occur to him that the academic dogma of viewing art through the lens of the grievance mongers is part of what CAUSED art to become marginalized? Of course not. It would be blasphemy against his religion of elitist omnipotence.

The Corcoran played an uncomfortable role in the culture wars on 1980s and 1990s, getting caught in the crossfire between the decadent upscale art market and politicians fuming about public funding of objectionable works. The institute underwent decades of financial hardship; their landmark location needed $130 million in repairs, a bill they could not pay. Finally the Corcoran was dissolved; in 2014 the school was adsorbed into George Washington University, and the $2 billion art collection was donated to the National Gallery of Art.

Another recent article captures the wailing and the gnashing of teeth now that the Corcoran is awkwardly grafted onto GWU, at this link: Multiple Facility Layoffs Reported at Corcoran School. It’s reported that only 9 of 19 facility will be retained. The students were already unhappy at the costs and complexities of their new university, and one cheery announcement about a visiting professor can’t undo the impact of a cut of half the staff.

The announcement was made by school director Sanjit Sethi. His website bio is a masterpiece of SJW inflected status jockeying and credential collecting, the sort of resume polishing dear to elites as a substitute for actual achievements and quality results. In his art, we are informed, he “deals with issues of nomadism, identity, the residue of labor, and memory.” It’s the kind of typical crypto-Marxist art babble that can make you wince. Residue of labor sounds like something you’d scrape off your shoe, not hang on your wall.

The students are inconsolable. They send tweets of lament like “Whatever was left of @CorcoranDC is gone now. @GWtweets has destroyed it,” and “Curious what non arts conscious people in the arts looks like? Take note of @GWtweets treatment of @CorcoranGW. How do you still not get it?”

The sad truth of it is, thanks to the excesses and abuses committed by the establishment art world, “non arts conscious people” is practically the entire population. I wonder if these mournful students are so upset because they recognize their own diminished prospects for future employment in arts education.

Once you reach an certain level of academic training, with its space space huddling, trigger word hysteria, and Post Modern relativistic bullshit, you really aren’t fit for any other kind of life.  The goal was become a cog in the indoctrination machine, where you could lord over the next generation of pod people, training them in the ways of sophistry and presumption, just like the “education” you got.

But with the ongoing challenges to colleges in general, and art schools specifically, the opportunities will be far fewer. Good luck in trying to actually build an art career using the ridiculous and off putting priorities, attitudes and practices of the Ivory Tower.

That stuff doesn’t  work in real life.

See my previous article in this series at this link: The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 1: Eric Fischl

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please see other articles here for more commentary on the state of the arts.

ARTICLE: On Artists and Alcohol

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Pablo Picasso “The Absinthe Drinker”

Raise a glass to this informative article.

Click on the Link: Drinking Scenes: The Relationship Between Artists and Alcohol, by Matthew Sperling

A key quote from the article, which amuses me on many levels:

“Toulouse-Lautrec’s pictures were described by Gustave Moreau as ‘painted entirely in absinthe’; he would stop at every bar in Montmartre in order to étouffer un perroquet (choke a parrot), in the slang of the period; and he had a specially made hollow walking-stick which held an emergency half-litre stash of absinthe and a tiny shot glass.”

At the Cafe La Mie

Choke a Parrot

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec  “At the Cafe La Mie”

For me, drinking and art making don’t mix too well. These days, I might have a beer while painting at night, but it’s a rarity.

Party Painting

Multitasking: Painting at the Bar

I have been to some of the art parties that are currently popular, where wine and paint both flow. Wikipedia calls them “The Paint and Sip Industry:” group painting lessons where adult beverages are served. I’ve had wonderful experiences at events like this. It seems to be a great way to get newcomers to art lose their tentativeness and really enjoy the process, without worrying too much about the results. These inclusive, sociable painting parties really fit the Remodernist dynamic that art is for everyone.

It’s a lot of fun, but a very different vibe than the slip into the state of intuition I work up into in the studio.

Something I have learned is moderation in drinking is wonderful; however, moderation in art is a travesty.

“The artist should be intoxicated with the idea of the thing he wants to express.”

-Robert Henri

1899c Sidewalk Café oil on canvas 81.6 x 65.7 cm

Robert Henri “Sidewalk Cafe”

PAINTINGS: The Moon in the Daytime

The Moon in the Daytime

Richard Bledsoe “The Moon in the Daytime” acrylic on canvas 18″ x 24″

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I spent a part of my day off from work for Independence Day completing a painting I have been working on for several weeks.

This piece had an unusual twist for me. Instead of working from a perceived vision,  or discovering the image in the process of painting, in this case I started with a title only.

“The Moon in the Daytime.” Even though the moon is always associated with the night, it’s a common occurrence for it to be visible while the sun is out too. It’s so common I’ve determined there isn’t even a special name for the phenomenon. You just call it the moon.

Somehow it’s always been special to me, to see that faint white shape in the bright sky. As I climbed into my van one morning I saw the moon above me, and the phrase started to ricochet around in my mind all day: The Moon in the Daytime. It reverberated with a kind of poetic, mysterious atmosphere I’m in the mood for in my art right now.

The problem was, I had no clear idea what such a painting would look like.

My wife Michele Bledsoe came to my rescue. After puzzling over it for a few days, I shared my haunting phrase with her while we were painting in our studio. She started to describe what the phrase suggested to her. Something she immediately thought of was the moon personified as a woman. This was something that hadn’t crossed my mind, and it was the missing piece. Soon enough the vision appeared, and I was able to get to work on it. It’s an ambiguous, lyrical image, incorporating a sensibility I can just see opening the way to so many new painting ideas.

It’s wonderful when two artists inspire each other so much.