I was having the kind of conversation that crops up at Mercury Studio last Friday with my friend, Kelly. Away from the main point, we were talking backgrounds, art and literary criticism, radical critiques and leveling, heterarchy and hierarchy, when she said, “I believe in every day Art.”
It struck a chord with me. She went on to juxtapose it with the Art on white, curated walls in a museum or a gallery
To me this Art, the Art that is present in the everyday world is fascinating. It is a radicalization of space to recognize it.1 I like to fall back on Picasso’s old saw, “Everything you can imagine is real.”
Head-trippers know this to be true, as do mystics and yogis, but so do cartoonists, and little kids, and writers, and moviemakers, and all of us,on some level.
I am most open to it when I am walking alone without headphones or other interference with my perception. Walking this weekend with this conversation still in my head, I saw cinder blocks that had been left in an alley. They were painted with semi-circular pie wedges. It looked like the blocks had been the base while something else was stenciled on top of them. I was examining the leftovers, the external arcs of paint that were outside the circles that had been painted on the something that sat atop these blocks. Blocks that were now Art.
Similarly so, the Art down the street: a massive scattering of teensy-tiny purple flowers, fallen along the base of a tree mulched and surrounded by high sharp blades of grass; such that I saw browns, greens, purples set one against another in a natural tableau as bright as any that one might conjure.
Other Durham artists have helped open my mind to this path; Chris Vitiello told me and an audience at The Carrack about the longest painting in Durham that at the time ran multiple miles down the road. Jim Lee told me and an audience at The Carrack about how at times he dips his hands in the stream of creativity and pulls something out, and how at other times how he stands in the stream and something rises up of its own accord—metaphorical to be sure, but literal, too. This world provides the creative fodder that all of us artists use. I like to say truth delimits fiction giving us all endless creative space.
I was lucky enough to participate in The Carrack-Mercury Studio Salon when in addition to Jim Lee, Sarah V. Goetz would frequently attend. She is an amazing observer of the everyday and a wondrous integrator and crosser of lines, a demolisher of rules, a jouster with limits, along the literal and theoretical boundaries of Art imitates Life and Life imitates Art.
What I find most opportunistic, most interesting, most hopeful about the Art that exists in every day2 is the omnipresent possibility of Beauty. It is right here surrounding us all of the time.3 If Art is the nexus of resistance and change, something I wholeheartedly believe human history demonstrates, then nodes of resistance, opportunities for real change are powerfully present in every day.
1 By this I mean, if you really recognize the omnipresence of Art, you must recognize the omnipresence of the microcosmos, daily, there is painting on the skeleton of every dragonfly, but also every house fly, and every rock, and every leaf—and a different painting of each under the microscope. When I open myself to it, I feel the presence of this everything in a graceful manner.
2 Including, not excluding Art in museums and galleries; they too are in the Gaian realm.
3 See Deut. 30:11-15