Ran over last night to the Palo Alto Art Center for their annual Fall program, which consisted of sculpture and photography. I’d listed the Photography portion on Upcoming but it was really Edward Eberle’s porcelains that impressed me the most.
Palo Alto is a money sort of town, and the Art Center plays the game of high-end decor, with flyers to hand out in each gallery, well-printed on heavy stock, ready to explain the art to the well-heeled and bow-tied retirees that tend to show up for these sorts of civic art events. Almost all the works on display were borrowed from private collections (collections of center patrons, one assumes). I brought Rebecca and as we came in the receptionist looks up at me (sorry, dressed for the wrong kind of art event!) & immediately asks in a friendly way: “are you one of the artists?”
Okay, I did have the Bronica strapped across my back, but at that moment I don’t think she could have seen it. And Rebecca (who was more properly attired) did have my Canon. But all I could think, looking past the receptionist into the gallery, was that we didn’t fit the standard visitor profile.
It annoys the heck out of me (though I have to live with it) that for so many in this country “fine” art (both consumption and creation) is something that you do when there’s nothing better left to do — that is, put aside until they’re retired or otherwise in stasis, maybe after a mid-life crisis or the kids have wandered off to random jobs and colleges (and the flip side — art is great while you’re in college, but once the careeer gets going, why are you worrying about trends in reworked vernacular painting? And why are you traipsing all that sawdust through the living room?). If art is what you do, is what you are, then what are people doing the rest of the time? Who the heck are they then? Why are they art-free? Totally enslaved by the convenient received social roles? It’s one of those late-night desperate searching questions, to wonder about others’ late-night desperate searching. Anyway.
Just one more checkbox on my list of possible reasons to think that maybe the whole idea of fine art is dead. Listen close, one can almost hear the suction. Then again, people have been saying that since the Academie. Maybe even before (Or maybe it’s just the whole wine-and-nosh scene that needs to collapse into a black whole), certainly since.
As for the photography exhibit itself:
“Romancing the Shadows” was organized around alt-process: Ambrotypes, Orotypes, dags, etc. As sometimes occurs, the largest pieces, impressive and expensive, were also the weakest. Oooh, big paper. Oooh, gold. But at their core: dull.
As it worked out in the random order of gallery-wandering, the best works were the ones we saw last: Adam Fuss dags, Deborah Luster tintypes (she had a whole cabinetful a year or two agao on display at SFMOMA), and a couple wallfulls of Linda Connor gold-chloride sun prints. Connor’s series was the most engaging work in the show, a collection of visits to holy places and each given a mystical treatment by her 8×10 — each, that is, but two photos, one of the Ta Prohm temple and another of the tombs in Petra, which seem a bit out of place, more luxe postcards than fitting with the rest (an impression strengthened by their popularity as tourist destinations).
I’ll be back there — my upcoming class with Margo Davis is being held in a studio at the back of the same building. As with most shows, it’s often good to go back after some digestion.
After a visit to the bookstore we went home and I got to rearranging all my flickr contacts (the subject of another post, really), doing a little more (okay, a lot more) web exploring & exciting housework, and then, following the examples given recently by Nicole and Min Jung, faded-out on top of the bedcovers, cuddled and warmed all the night through by the comforting fan of my still-running laptop.
Tonight it’s out with the boys to talk about — well, hockey. And stuff.
Tomorrow it’s Robert Adams at SFMOMA and a sync-up with Graham; Saturday in Pacific Grove and Monterey; and then back to SF Sunday for the EFF 15th Anniversary BBQ, before the week fires-up again so I can take a break from all this relaxation.