Monday, November 9, 2009

Thoughts on art

I'm currently in the habit of pretending I'm an artist. Actually, I think Chris and I worked out the hierarchy: an "artist-like object" is someone who lives in Marfa and thinks that by virtue of living in Marfa that they themselves are artists (this is where I fall); a "burgeoning artist" is someone who may have legitimate claims to being an artist, whether it's an art degree or something like that; an "artist" is someone who either has their own gallery or has had a show in a gallery; and an "established artist" is someone who has had installations in a museum. With the help of my trusty camera and a panache for imitating pictographs, I'd like to think that I have artist-like symptoms.

This is the photo I submitted to a contest called MarFoto:
It wasn't a finalist--you should've seen some of the crap that was. I admit that it's a mite pixelated at full size, but is it really worse than pictures of the moon? I also gripe that many photos were not distinctly of Marfa, but it was all the judges' choice, not mine. Anyway, it got me to thinking about what I like in art, most especially photography.

1. I like it un-obvious. Any sucker can head out into the desert and take pictures of the mountains, but who's taking pictures of the knot hole in the tree someone used as a trash can? There seemed to be infinite pictures of the moon, of yuccas, of fields (guilty), but I've grown to like tiny details.

2. I'm tired of landscapes, especially oil paintings of landscapes. I mentioned this to someone at the farmers market in Las Cruces (a printmaker), and I now have a standing invitation to see her studio when I'm in town again. A painting has no hope of capturing the tremendous beauty of the landscape out here--a photo has barely any hope (a small improvement). I do make exceptions--I do have a few landscapes in my personal collection, but in their case it's style over substance:
That's "Knight's Pond #6" by Irma Cerese, which I acquired in Rockland, ME. It's my favorite landscape and one of my favorite pieces in our collection.

3. Why so serious? I learned a lot in a photography gallery in Bar Harbor, ME, where the photographer enjoyed playing with infrared, overexposure, things like that:
("Somes Pond Grass" by Stan Mason.) I'm looking forward to playing with all the options on my new camera. Before the last camera bought it, I was enjoying adjusting exposure and tint and levels, etc.

4. I like portraits. People are worth looking at, especially normal-looking people. Even unattractive people are worth looking at, which is why I've been taking so many self-portraits lately:
A lot of this may have to do with my dislike of landscapes, but I don't think that's all of it. I feel drawn to pictures of human beans.

5. Experiment, but don't screw it up. Too many MarFoto finalists had levels effed with to the point of insanity. Some would've been vastly improved by simply being left alone. Sometimes less-than-ideal situations are half the appeal--I like to actively seek it out now. Or, even more fun, I screw up royally and am pleasantly surprised by the result:
My camera can't get here fast enough, but in the meantime I ought to seek out some batteries for it. Ta for now.

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