Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's art, they said

As part of our visit to the Rockwell Museum, we saw an exhibit of art by Jarvis Rockwell, the youngest son of Norman Rockwell. From the pictures and some comments, the younger Rockwell seems like a nice enough fellow.

The exhibit include some early works, drawings that show he was skilled at realistic works. But then the exhibit featured some of his later work, including a pyramid

of toys and action figures.
Okay. It obviously took time to amass and arrange all of this "Hindu-inspired" piece, but, well, a lot of people could have created something similar. I guess it's just a matter that he came up with the idea and he took the time to do it, while other people were busy doing other things.

He also created assemblages/collages on wall boards consisting of cards, pictures, toys, lines, etc.

Again, a lot of people could have created them. It takes time and some sense of arrangement, but my wife regularly does that beautifully with flowers from our garden (and did repeatedly and skillfully with merchandise when she worked in retail). 

I was reminded of doodles and oddities I used to create, experimenting with line, markers, colors bled through paper, and so on. I also used to collect things - figures, cards, pictures, etc., that I used to arrange on shelves or bulletin boards. I do that at school in my classroom sometimes - collages of posters and pictures of writers, musicians, art, artists, world leaders, religious figures, and so on.

I was also reminded of some things I've written - or at least started. For example, at a book store I once came across one of those little books - the kind they have on racks near the checkout. It was a collection of hundreds of things to be happy about. Just words and phrases, hundreds of them. I jokingly said I should write a book about 500 things to be grumpy about. I even started compiling some. But I thought it a waste of time and stopped. A couple of years later, sure enough, there was a book similar to the one I'd envisioned on display on the rack of little books.

Just think: If I hadn't decided it was a waste of time and an unworthy effort, it might have been my book on that rack!

But I wondered what such silliness as my arrangements or mocking writings would add to the world. I guess my "a slug among weeds" poems are as close as I get to actually inflicting my sense of humor and quirkiness on the world.

There were also examples of found art. Used matchbooks - with some accompanying reproductions. Okay, I can see that. But the gloves? Apparently he walked out of his studio and found some old work gloves. He mounted each in a picture frame and hung them on the wall. That's it: Each is just an old glove presented as is. Dada, eh?

Heck, I could go in my basement and find, oh, rusty nails. Empty beer bottles. A mouse trap. Hmm.

I know there are intellectual-sounding explanations for what he does - a commentary on our culture sort of thing. Maybe there's a folk art purpose to it all as well. And there is a value in amusing people. But I have a hard time believing that people will look at this art 50 years from now the way they do Norman Rockwell's.

And I wonder what Norman Rockwell would have thought of some of the works his son produced.

Pax et bonum

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