~Not to pay a debt but to acknowlege it~

"These brighter Regions which salute mine eyes
A Gift from God I take:
The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the Lofty Skies,
The Sun and Stars are mine: if these I prize."

Friday, November 9, 2012

"What is Art... blah, blah, blah."

~Satan's Council~
Gustave Dore

We were naughty children… and Philip Dedrick seldom chided and mostly chuckled, as if he knew this was part of either growing up or being little creative devils. Chuck Ludeke sent anonymous letters to the Dean claiming P.D. was practicing voodoo (everyone knew who wrote them), he painted the Greek athlete figure orange (then spent countless hours scrapping it off), barricaded P.D.’s office with drawing benches, and masterfully created a ‘ready-made’ piece of art for a class- its story left P.D. rocking back and forth with peels of laughter. A psychology teacher entered the strangely dark lecture hall forcing him to feel about the myriad of switches to turn on the lights. Then he stood at the podium gazing at his fingers mysteriously blackened with charcoal and making whining noises, of which Bo-Bo did a perfect nasal impersonation. A charcoaled sheet of paper with slits had been taped over the light switches, which later Chuck retrieved (now streaked with finger marks) as his ‘ready-made’ art project.

We were required in our senior year to take ‘Aesthetics Class’; imagine a room filled with know it all art majors and a philosophy teacher who hadn’t taught the course before. The man loved to illustrate on the black board.

We stole his chalk.

He would turn from the black board after pathetically using his fingertip dipped in chalk dust just in time to witness a flock of paper airplanes gliding softly down from either side of the room as we gazed forward with innocent, sweet cherubim (we learned the word in art history) faces. We'd create ‘divine-corpses’ (I believe that P.D. said it was a concept of the Da-Da art period)- paper was folded into quarters and someone would first draw a head, then another the body, then thighs, and finally shins & feet. Unfolded the results were rude and hysterically funny which caused bursts of laughter- the teacher thought we were reacting to him and took heated umbrage. Taking off my socks I’d do a puppet show for Rama seated at my side. She’d hiss, “You bad boy!” and hit me. I would pretend sneeze then grab her sari to wipe my nose and get hit again. When asked a question by the teacher I tried to answer while (unbeknownst to him) Ellen on my opposite side had pulled my leg in her lap and was freely running fingers along its length. I had tears in my eyes, grimacing with restrained laughter, and the long suffering teacher grew furious with my sputtering response.

The text book for the class was authored by someone named Cunningham, and we forever took issue with its concept of art VS craft and just what was art. Its basic concept: ART had to be perceived in order to be ART. Then one glorious afternoon Gretchen asked in her southern belle twang of a voice, “But what about Beethoven’s 9th? Wasn’t he deaf when he wrote it?” It is perhaps inappropriate to say, but watching a PHD completely shatter as his philosophical rug is pulled out beneath him is a beautiful thing.

The day of The Final arrived to find every inch of the wall length black board covered with nonsensical and riotously funny diagrams, much like a deranged family tree, which connected Socrates to Plato to Sarte to rutabagas to parsnips, etc. Another Ludeke creation. The majority of us shrugged off our barely passing grade. Mr. Dedrick tisked that we nearly destroyed the philosophy teacher who swore never to teach that class again, the "poor man," he added with a sweet cherubim face.

“Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience or Reward.”
Art & Fear
Bayles & Orland

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