Reflections on yesterday's art opening, Hollow Dreams, at our Gallery:
TOS Gallery Director Vinny Brown says," If you want to understand Stephen Perrone's art, look at German Expressionism," (including Ernst Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Paula Modersohn-Becker, & non-Germans such as Georges Roualt,Oskar Kokoschka, etc.) Steve's art, he suggests, is similarly passionately expressive. It is no secret, however, that Steve's work does not sell "like hotcakes;" even though everyone can recognize the quality of his work, the wonderful use of paint and color, the feeling the work conveys of the artist's intensity of soul. It is not easy stuff to consider putting up in your living room.
One of the visitors at the opening may have offered an insight on this. This woman, looking around at those Perrone "heads" surrounding her said, "it's as if he were taking off something, off their faces." I suggested perhaps it was the "social personality." "Yes," she agreed, "it's what is underneath, what is being revealed, something darker." I agreed, and suggested she go into the business of art criticism. In other words, Steve's art disturbs, and that is not really something we can handle well in early 21 century America. We can understand the purpose of art to disturb (think Munch's "The Scream," Picasso's "Guernica," or Goya's execution scene). It is as if, when Steve paints a subject, what he sees is that deeper layer we prefer not to know about; kind of an Ed Snowden of the art world. (I have no idea if Steve would agree with me, by the way!)
For certainly the current reality of our world - politically, economically, environmentally, culturally - gives us much cause for anxiety, feelings of isolation, depression, despair; as if this were not enough, we in this upstate NY bioregion, "huddle" through the coldest winter in a very, long time. Will spring never come? Well, yes, most likely it will. But these other "winters" will continue, as we, by and large, prefer the "game face" to the one underneath. What would happen if all, of us, all at once, revealed those faces to each other? Would we be "frightened to death" or would we return to the warm hearth of community, from which we have allowed ourselves to be allured by the manipulations of a market-driven society run for the benefit of the few at the expense of everything and everyone else?
Art, thank Goodness, does not now and never has had to reflect the socially constructed and socially conferred reality, though the art scene as covered in mainstream media allows no hint of this. The Other Side's encouragement of the local art scene is intended to support the making of art and the artists, our bedrock source of imaginative resistance to the dominant corporate reality. Although not all artists share my perspective, and prefer to think they can be artists and beloved of the status quo at the same time, I prefer to think of art as naturally subversive, its source lying in the vast untamed creative spirit that will be "forever wild."
In another conversation at the Perrone exhibition, a friend was talking about the controversial Obama comment made January 30, (in case you missed it, he said "I promise you folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." ) I do not even want to read the protests of all those who have rushed to defend the art history degree on the grounds that it is a fine basis to make a very good living. I am sure nanotech will hire thousands of art history degree holders!! So there! More to the point is that the President made that remark in a setting he felt was comfortable with it, much like a racist comment slipping out amidst a group of disgruntled white wage-earners. His retraction won't undo the damage, nor the cache he's earned with those who not only believe the humanities are truly a waste of time, but deep down know that there is no bigger threat to the status quo than those who take arts and the humanities seriously.
Even if you do not want to take a painting home to put up over the couch (although I encourage it), I strongly urge everyone to come to see the outstanding exhibition by a very fine local artist and celebrate, as I do, the power of art to disturb and to inspire; it is hard to have one without the other!
Note: Gallery hours will be extended during the next few weeks and are as follows: Mon, 20-2, Wed, 10-2, Friday 5-9, Sat 11-3.
This Week at The Other Side:
Wednesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m. Herbal Study Group: Blue Vervain: The Enchanter's Herb. Native to this area, blue vervain is rich in both medicinal and magi-cal traditions. Its heavy bluish-purple boughs communicate to us its affinity for special kinds of anxiety, as well as having many other historical and modern uses. I will be exploring these during this month’s study group, as well as sharing some favorite preparations and experiences with one of our most precious plant allies. With Lauren Eadline.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-845-1562. Walk-ins also welcome. Donation $10-15, 10% of donations go to Mohawk Valley Community Apothecary.
And Coming Later in March: (also see attached calendar)
Wednesday, March 12, Imagining America presents Fourth City: Essays from the Prison In America, a book launch and discussion with Doran Larson, Professor of English and Creative Writing.
Outside/Inside reading group resumes again Tuesday, March 11, 7-9 p.m. with a discussion of Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. Facilitated by Doug LaFlamme. Newcomers welcome.
Plans are in the works for a jazz event on Friday, March 28, honoring bandleader Sal Alberico, and featuring Sal Alberico Jr. and others. Stay tuned for details and MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Jazz will keep on coming in April, May and June; look for announcements.
Off site, of interest:
Thursday, March 6, 7:00 p.m. U.C. Film Series. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013, Russia) "This compelling documentary tells the story of Nadia, Masha, and Katia of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot, jailed in Russia for having performed a 4-second satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral, with unparalled access and exclusive footage to reveal the real people behind their colorful balaclavas." Film showing in MacFarlane Auditorium
Saturday, March 8 noon-6, Raku Outdoor Pottery Firing Festival, to benefit the new KAC pottery studios. At the Kirkland Art Center on the green in Clinton. Featuring pottery, chili, hot and cold drinks, and more. (note correction of day from previous announcement!)
Some posters for the upcoming Imagining America talk, Fourth City: Essays from the Prison In Americaare still available at Cafe Domenico waiting for distribution. If you know of a spot and can take the time, please pick up a poster or two and help us get the word out. If you have a good spot where our posters would get seen, and would like to make a commitment to this regularly, please let me know.