Local artists deserve support

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

Among the hoped for fall events of Pintores, the local art league, is a fund-raising auction featuring art by local artists. A similar auction, held in 2005 in Portales, raised several thousand dollars for the benefit of students at ENMU who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The question raised by any artist, in approaching such a situation — What is likely to bring a response? What will have crowd appeal, and how can I create such a piece, yet remain true to my vision?

Vision — we all know, if we admit it, that vision is subjective, biased. My art is not your art, and if I follow what is popular, I may or may not be true to myself. If I am not, then is it truly art?

“The dividing line between art and craft, no matter how well fashioned, is that art reveals something authentic and compelling.” — Star Lianna York

This quote from a well known sculptor addresses one of the questions which must, by any artist, be asked and re-asked. The answers may change, given different circumstances and purposes. Failure to ask the question, however, is at best sloppy art and at worst, deceit of self and others.

Personally, I am not ashamed of the times when I am doing a craft. If I am making a chair, and it is a well made chair, I should be very proud of it. I can take steps to make it a piece of art, but it’s perfectly fine if I don’t.

If, though, I am creating a sculpture, it should somehow fit in with York’s parameters.

In the ongoing debate over this subject in Decoy Carving Forum (an online chatroom for people who carve functional floating waterfowl sculptures) I put out the idea one day that another way of drawing the line between art and craft is that art tells a story.

Not everyone may “get” the story. If I carve, as I recently did, a working decoy of a hen wood duck in a resting position, with sleepy eyes and relaxed attitude, it tells a story which may only be comprehensible, or even matter, to a duck, another duck hunter, or any outdoor lover who might recognize what is going on.

That doesn’t matter. The bird, having been carved for my grandson, and thus not for sale, it doesn’t matter who likes or doesn’t like the story — the fact is, it tells one.

Many of us, while preferring realistic or at least impressionistic art, can at least validate the art which takes a more abstract form.

In other words, I can personally appreciate well done abstracts, like those painted by my buddy Todd, and make the distinction between those pieces and something that looks like my grandson painted it. The challenge becomes to discern, then, the story.

In any case, I hope the efforts of local artists will be supported in our upcoming sale.