There’s really much to be said about the pedigree and time invested by those who are experts in their field- the “textbook theorists” as a friend of mine calls them. These folks certainly deserve acclaim and kudos for their accomplishments and dedication and book-learning. Such credibility doesn’t come without a real investment of blood, sweat and tears in the school of hard knocks.
Often for years and years too.
There’s also lots to be said about the outsider, the folk artist and the “self-taught” types. You may know them; these are the bulldogs and the scrappers, those who simply create for the love of it. It’s pure self-expression. And they often really don’t have a choice in the matter.
Who is more authentic and genuine?
Is one more aboveboard than the other?
Is either more committed to their pursuit of their art?
A good friend of mine recently told me about his experience in a writing “critique” group. A more wisened person, a man of lofty acclaim and with the education and experience and track-record too, at first dismissed and then ripped him apart for his flaws and his “grandstanding” (that’s what he said), and his apparent know-nothingness and agenda or something (yup said that too). This man, a person where the waters parted when he entered a room by the way, quoted folks from days-gone-past, compared him to them, and went on and on (he said) about how he was emulating others, and not successfully mind you. My friend was taken-aback certainly, but at the time took it like a champ. Just responded with what he believed was the appropriate awe and respect.
My friend knows nothing of anyone else and lays no claim to that.
Does this experience compromise his art? He’s only creating what’s coming out of him. I know him well so know this is the case. Will this lashing affect his muse? He’s really not considering anything when he creates, and most definitely wouldn’t even be capable of conforming to anybody else. What is art anyway? Is it a tipping of the hat to those who’ve come before, an adherence to a style or a method? Or is it the bonafide effort to communicate an intent and a personal creativity, with authenticity. The jury will always be out and “society” will always bow to those who are well-educated and schooled. Really in any field; human nature it seems. It must be an envy thing or something, or people need to walk around with a medal pinned to their chest or a label taped to their forehead to be heard or esteemed and recognized and identified.
By the way, this critic in question hasn’t produced anything of his own in a long, LONG time.
So the question’s an open one: what is art, who is art? While I personally have an opinion, I don’t wear a medal so who the hell would even listen?
Gosh, just imagine if I did…