The Art Divide

Over the past few weeks I’ve been scouring the internet, compiling a list of galleries from each state that might be interested in my work. I’ve looked at close to one thousand gallery websites so far and have come to the conclusion that there are two basic types of artwork: understandable, and bizarre.

Of course, it’s ridiculous to narrow down all art, everywhere, to perfectly fit into one of those two categories, and there is certainly some overlap. But I think you can understand what I’m talking about when I use those two terms. Our boundaries between understandable and bizarre are certainly different, but overall do you understand what I mean?

"Parched": About as bizarre as I get.

“Parched”: About as bizarre as I get.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t like bizarre art. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but to me it flies in the face of skilled artists who have studied and practiced for years. I think the ideals (or lack of) that bizarre art proposes might even reflect the general direction of society as a whole, which is a depressing thought.

(Note that bizarre is not the same as “abstract”. I’ve seen plenty of abstract work that takes skill, study, and creativity.)

But rather than have a completely negative post about what I, as an artist, am against, I’d rather make the same statement by explaining why I produce the kind of work that I do.

1. My work is representational. It is a capture of a real time and place. This happened, I was there. I witnessed it. It is not fiction. Although it requires copious amounts of imagination and foresight, it is not made up.

"Lightning With Rainbow": A real moment that required vision, foresight, and experience.

“Lightning With Rainbow”: A real moment that required vision, foresight, and experience.

2. Although non-fiction, there is still plenty of room for me to imbue my personal taste and vision into the photograph by choosing subject, moment, perspective, and by making adjustments to contrast, hues, saturation, etc…  This makes me an artist as opposed to a reporter.

"Gateway To Manzanar": There were 11 other photographers with me. None of them captured this perspective of Mount Williamson.

“Gateway To Manzanar”: There were 11 other photographers with me. None of them captured this perspective of Mount Williamson.

3. It is understandable by, I dare say, everyone. Not everyone likes my work, but you understand what you are seeing. And I think you can understand that I’m attempting to communicate an emotion to you. I try to make the sum of my photographs greater than their individual parts.

I find bizarre art to be pretentious, like the boy’s clubhouse that won’t let you in if you don’t know the password. My art doesn’t make the viewer feel unsophisticated or out of the loop.

4. My photography has required a lot of time studying and learning, plus practice and experience. Just one or the other wouldn’t be enough. It takes effort and initiative. Someone can’t just wake up one day and randomly produce the kind of art that I produce.

"Moonrise At Bryce": A very technically challenging photograph.

“Moonrise At Bryce”: A very technically challenging photograph.

5. It’s not solely based on imagination. Imagination is critical, but imagination alone begets chaos.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.