In Search of Non-Art Art

I’ve always been an artist — whether at heart or in practice. Being an artist “at heart” is all about seeking, searching for the incredible beauty that exists (naturally) or has been created (whether by man or nature or even other forms of life). 0502150412_E_0001_E_0001I think there are times that my comments about photography are taken as being critical of other photographers but I can’t really recall any time in my life that I have actually felt critical of another photographer even if I have commented about things I would have done differently in some image, or wondered whether there was any merit to an image.  That is all subjective and the world — to me — is a grand grayscale with very little black (terrible) and very little white (perfect) — and a lot of stuff in between that has some merit, some value, some beauty.    0502150328Which means that through my eyes there might be a lot of images I never would have captured — but that doesn’t mean that someone else should not have captured them for very different reasons than I would have had if I had the camera in my fingers.

This is such an amazing world we live in and yet it seems that the things we value as a culture are more about violence and sensationalism than about beauty and truth (yes, I do believe there is such a thing as absolute truth) and creativity.  The fact that an athlete can earn millions of money a year for defending a ball maddens me, while artists routinely die poor — only to become post-mortem monuments when collectors choose their works as investments (rather than art).

I struggle with my own perceptions of this world.  I’m always looking for the beauty, the sublime symmetry / balance / contrast that elevates the common into the uncommon.

Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you,
and trust to your own reactions and convictions.
Ask yourself, ‘Does this subject move me to feel,
think and dream?’
— Ansel Adams

There are such sights; there are such sounds; there are such tastes; there are such textures; there are such aromas… isolated dots in the universe of absolute perfection.  For me, those veritable points of light in an otherwise dismal universe are proof enough that there is a God — I don’t need a heavy theology to prove that to me. Faith is easy for me, I only need to realize that there are those things in life, veritable valves within our body that operate only once in a lifetime — at the moment of birth — and which determine whether we’ll survive as air-breathing beings or die as infants unable to breathe oxygen in our lungs.On_Pain_of_pain

The same force which formed us forms the world as well, and not only the world but it give us the ability to create out of nothingness things of great beauty.  Of that I am in awe. For that I never cease to search. And on some levels everything else is of little or no consequence.

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at music, at visual arts, at writing.  I’ve enjoyed them all.  I can’t say I’ve been particularly adept at most of them.  My musical talents today, after playing with the clarinet, the accordion, the bugle and the piano are pretty rudimentary.  I could probably still plunk out a hymn from a familiar hymnal but don’t push me much further than that.  I keep swearing that some day I’m going to try watercolors; in fact we have dragged along a pad of watercolor paper and a small box of paint and brushes for low unto 4 1/2 years now.  Never once have I gotten them out to play. Recently I told Peggy that maybe I’m waiting for the time when we get OFF the road and I have better access to controlled sources of water before I give it a shot but who knows whether I’ll ever get around to trying?  I surely don’t know.0502151103

Those special moments and special sights don’t have to be enduring.  We drove all the way to NYC from Wisconsin just to see The Gates by Christo.  And even though the weather was miserable and cold I still find something wonderful and moving about those orange gates threading their way through Central Park.  It was a moment in time.  A lot of wonderful things comprise nothing more than a moment in time.  The first time you see the woman you’ll marry smile at you.  newborn k 1That first view of your newborn child.  The scent of newly mown grass. The sound of a pipe organ playing Bach or a soprano singing O mio bambino caro.  There will always be moments of extreme beauty.

I early in life I wanted to record those moments.  Those were the days of early home movie cameras and audio recorders, I had shelves and shelves of recordings of all sorts of things.  The reality being that recordings (and photos) are rarely as touching as the original.  Unless the photo is the original.0502150787-e16  Or unless the work isn’t really a photo or a recording at all.

It’s funny how some things strike you differently than others.  I love to see the Live Oaks here in the Southwest.  But I find I make very few images of Live Oaks.  I find it impossible to capture what it is about them that so appeals to me.  Conversely, evergreens seem ubiquitous and yet they are frequent subjects.  Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt and rarity doesn’t always lend value.

We have now spent three winters out of the cold and  into warmer temperatures year round. I can’t honestly say I feel as if my internal thermostat has changed one bit.  I still often find that I love the days when the temps are in the 40’s more than those that are in the 80’s.  I wonder what that suggests about my view of beauty.  I used to get out to make images of snow on trees; during the last three winters with trees in dormancy I made nearly as many images — do I think dormant trees are less beautiful?  I do admit that we went in search of autumn leaves last fall but because of the strange weather in ’15 the Wisconsin autumn was not as colorful as usual and I did very little shooting of fall color.

Life does change us.  Like it or not, none of us is the person we were two or five years ago.  That means that I have to keep looking at what’s around me with new eyes. I have to keep trying to see things around me as if I’ve never noticed them before, or never cared about them before.

And as for my subconscious… I realized the other night that when I’m having perfectly wonderful dreams I still dream of Wisconsin forests and doing things in them — albeit always during the summer.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here tomorrow if you want to chat.


7 thoughts on “In Search of Non-Art Art

  1. Love that Ansel Adams quote. It is actually one that we discussed in our little photography group not long ago. Several ladies responded very positively to it, and they shared that this type of feeling is what motivated them to actually pursue photography… to learn to capture that feeling in a photograph. I confess that is me, too. Nice post today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW, beautiful, inspiring and thought provoking post. It truly captures my mood right now. I especially can relate to this line, “Being an artist “at heart” is all about seeking, searching for the incredible beauty that exists (naturally) or has been created (whether by man or nature or even other forms of life).”

    I think that is why I do art, write, garden, photograph, etc….expressions of beauty scattered across the universe. A friend of mine does collage and prior to seeing her work I wasn’t much interested in that particular art form…too much symbolism for me. But, I have recently looked at the idea of doing a collage book just for sharing the beauty in life, as I see it…in an abstract way. As you know my penchant for recording history, weather past or future, If someone were to stumble across the book at a later time, I’d like them to see and feel life as I do…at least for a moment. One of the most enjoyable parts of doing research on my family history was the sensations I got from stepping into the shoes of my ancestors…for that moment, they were real. I knew them and had experience, love, compassion, fear, pride and even sorrow over their life experiences. It literally grounded me during a period of time where I had recently tried on some new wings and was seeing if they fit me. It brought into view the bigger picture of life and what was really important, and what was not.

    With these wonderful thoughts to ponder, I’m off to work. Hope you two are having an enjoyable day…supposed to rain and have T-storms here today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly think that art is one of the best incubators for people to grow — no matter what the outlet might be. It might be creating new works of art, it might be trying new avenues in life, or forging new relationships. It’s a way of seeing LIFE — all of it.

      Today is day-before-moving day…. lots of little things and thoughts floating around.


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