The slings and arrows of outrageous critics
This is to follow up on Pasatiempo’s review of EX.EX. V: Excerpt Exhibition [Jan. 1]. Both the exhibition and the review are big topics for a small letter but together have many far-reaching implications for all of us… especially in an art town like Santa Fe.
First ... the concept and purpose of EX.EX. V: Excerpt Exhibition is to acknowledge— and honor— the fact that, at the end of the day, every day… there are those who find themselves pursuing an “artistic existence,” sometimes unknowingly. And there are those who simply embody it, whether they intend to or not… or whether they’re judged “good” at it or not. EX.EX. V presents people who are to the side, underneath, and over the top of normal levels of soul, process, and objectified existence. Inherent in the concept is the humble but considered implication that… for Humankind to stay on the evolutionary chain… we need to study them hard!
Secondly (and historically), it’s been normal— by definition— for critics to focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly… but there is nothing inherent in the nature of art, nor in artistic existence, which suggests that there has to be one way over another. The implication is that there should be a way— or an artistic standard— and that there are those who know and who set the standard (i.e., critics, teachers, artists, creators, etc. etc.).
Thirdly… we have come to respect and/or grant a place for those who— in one form or another— appear to know and teach. At the same time, we also grant that artistic existence comes from many directions at once… and hardly ever in a straight line. Sometimes it comes in a flash, and sometimes in labored fashion. No matter the form of arrival… we know— at all levels— that it’s “life-giving” and that it’s real.
So why do we need reviews, institutions, authorities, and each other to project “life-taking” and otherwise demeaning opinions onto those who dare travel a different or a crooked path? In some ways it might be good to be scrutinized— to recognize the good, the bad, the ugly— but what’s the good, the purpose, to call one who tries the path “… a culprit,” to call their works unconfident, “deranged,”… or even “sophisticated”? It misses the point and diminishes the journey…
In a beautiful town— and art world— like ours… isn’t there a better question— one that’s relevant to all of us, at each of our evolved levels?
“To be, or not to be?… That is the question.” EX.EX. is one way of trying to answer.
Dean Howell, originator, coordinator & artist of EX.EX.