The slings and ar­rows of ou­tra­geous crit­ics

Pasatiempo - - Dear Pasa -

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.

Santa Fe

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