Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Help Me Get This

Recently, Michael and I visited MASS MoCA. It's contemporary art on steroids and I'm sheepishly admitting that I just didn't "get" most of the installations even after reading the accompanying literature. Guiltily, that little voice in my head whispered "is this art?" As an artist I'm old enough, experienced enough and should be open to alternative perspectives and sensitive to nuance. A video installation of a person in a self car wash hosing down a non-existent vehicle elicited a silent "huh" and made me feel disconnected and, well...stupid. As a working artist I should get this stuff.

I belong to the school that believes art should tell a story and engage the viewer. Call me old fashion but I love the immediate emotional connection.

Emotion + skill + experience = great art (in my opinion). I want to be blown away by a piece and unable to take my eyes off it. And that includes abstract painting, sculpture and yes, installations that are intellectually accessible and provide relevance.

So, imagine my relieved joy when we discovered The Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, about an hour drive west from the studio. A small and unassuming building, it houses the painting collection of Bartlett Arkell who founded the Beech-Nut Company.  Paintings of beauty, luscious color, light, form and provocative subjects. Wow. Amongst the Homers, the Bentons, the Wyeths and the O'Keefes were some amazing artists I'm not familiar with.

For example: the stunning snowscapes of Walter Launt Palmer:

 I thought this was masterful... well as this special exhibit by artist Jay Connaway:
I've stood on the stormy shore and nervously felt these ominous waves:

Powerful and compelling, these paintings inspire me to become a be a better painter.

Call me a boring traditionalist,


Anonymous said...

Oh Sharon, you would be the one to cock your head like a warm eyed spaniel and an emphatic hmmm at the Emporer's New duds. I love you for that.

Sharon Crute said...

Thanks Anon. It's my brain on acrylics.
Love you too.