Monday, June 02, 2008

Inside Out

There are times I wish I still lived in The City.  That being San Francisco of course, the only city I've ever really known.  But New York would suffice.  Or possibly Chicago or LA.  My desire is primarily about availability of stuff that adds to an interesting life experience.  Stuff like Art - Movies - More diversity in Ethnic Food - New Theater - A wider range of Incredibly Fresh Fish.  Things that don't make it to my part of the country, that being the Midwest, a place where coastal types (possibly) imagine we are all naive and so un-hip we wouldn't know what to do with a leading edge lifestyle.  Hmmm, I guess maybe I hang with a different group, but I know lots of us who would enjoy such a lifestyle.   

But I digress.  

We subscribe to the NY Times so I can read about all this stuff I'm missing.  Like a new exhibition at MOMA (NY, not SF) called "Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing."  It is described as a mix of drawings by "outsider" artists and "insider" artists - professionals who have been conventionally trained.  There are no such labels on the art nor is it segregated in any such way.  The link-up for the show is the simple premise that all the exhibiting artists work from internal inspiration and that each artist "has created a unique language with which to express his or her own experience."  

I am interested in seeing the show because this is how I work.  It all comes from inside, sometimes with little rhyme of reason.  I am still working on my "language" as I find it develops more and more  each year.  I have never called myself an outsider per se, although I supposed I am on the cusp since I lack conventional training such as an MFA.  But I have sought foundational training such as the drawing classes I took at UC Berkeley, plus I have taken workshops here and there.  My painting, though, is largely self taught - kind of "girl let loose with art supplies."  

An interesting distinction about "outsiders" (at least per the article - here is a LINK if you want to read it) is that "outsiders seem not to worry too much about how their creations will appear to others..."  I find this fascinating and it also distinguishes me from outsiders as I do tend to care how my work is perceived.  

I have seen a lot of outsider art during my last 2 years exhibiting at Kentuck.  The art I have observed there (at Kentuck) is all so completely raw.  I admire the artist's ability to reach deep within and to express themselves with no apparent edit function.  Personally, I love this loose approach, but I know there are folks, such as my husband, who simply don't get it.  They prefer their art to be more easily accessible.  

I think I admire the raw and loose so much because I have this insane tendency to work and overwork and even, perish the though, think about my work.  I finished (perhaps) a new diptych yesterday and displayed it for friends last night at dinner.  I talked to my friend Bud about whether it was finished and he said yes.  I said I wasn't sure.  He probed for my reasons and I admitted somewhat sheepishly that I hadn't bled on it enough.  I felt I should have struggled more and messed it up, then salvaged it before pronouncing it done.  He just shook his head.   

Something a little twisted about that, eh?   


  1. I'd love to see the triptych. I agree with you that there is nothing more wonderful than having a piece go into "impossible!" mode and then saving it like a super-hero. I love that process. But sometimes the best things do come free and easy; I've heard of composers referring to the same thing. It must be our old Calvinist roots that make us want to work for it! xo

  2. Mary Beth - I love your writing! You crack me up! Thanks for the comment on my blog. I'm so new at this that I couldn't figure out how you found your name posted there. I had a fabulous time in your workshop at ArtFest and highly recommended your continued participation. If you are ever headed toward Boston, definitely let me know!
    Margaret Applin


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