Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Reason to Drink

I went to the Los Altos Art and Wine Festival today.

First things first: the wine. Chardonnay everywhere. I don't drink chardonnay; I don't like the oak. But I was very happy to see that Leal was pouring the Carnaval meritage. Unfortunately, that was sold out. The only red at Leal was the syrah. I am not always a syrah fan. I like big, fruity wines. I steer away from the overly dry. But the gentleman from Leal let me taste it, and I told him I would make an exception for his syrah, the 2005, which was fruity and a little spicy, very balanced, not too heavy, a nice wine.

Now for the art. Let me put it like this: I wandered around with my glass of wine. I saw straw hats on which someone had glued dyed ostrich feathers. I saw pet portraits, these huge oil paintings of Fluffy and Fido. I saw masses of handmade pottery items glazed in earth tones, including this frog.
Just so you get an idea of the proportion? The frog is perched on a wine barrel. That is one big-ass frog.

I saw big paintings of hearts and butterflies. Then I had what seemed a brilliant thought, and so I called my friend E.
Me: I just thought of the funniest thing.
E.: [waiting] . . .
Me: You know why art and wine are such a natural pairing for festivals? [pause to let her think about it] Because you have to be drunk to buy this crap!
Oh, people. I'm sorry. But does the world need more mobiles that look like they are made from marbles and coat hangers? More generic beach art?

Do these faces make the world a better place?

P.S. I wasn't going to post these pictures; I felt bad, you know, my goal is never to hurt anyone's feelings, and some artists/craftists do view the work of their hands as inseparable from themselves, and so are in for a world of hurt when the work is criticized. I told my friend E. I was not going to post the pictures, though, and then she and I talked about art and criticism and how being an artist generally means presenting one's work to the public, which invariably means the public will have some sort of reaction, and I realized that I must post the pictures, for that is what criticism is about. (If you can call this criticism; I'm not sure that I would. But as a writer, I know to separate myself from what I produce.)

If it makes anyone feel better, every time I stood still in wonder that such work could be exhibited and sold, I would overhear another festival-goer exclaim, "That's beautiful!" and open her wallet.


namastenancy said...

Good for you for posting an honest opinion. I've posted a few here and it's caused problems for the blog so I try to pull back and save my more stringent critiques for my own blog. But somebody has to say "The emperor has no clothes."

L7 said...

Thanks. I hope I don't cause problems with my little opinions.

This made me think about the conversation I had with Bridget Henry. I'd told her I thought I didn't like woodcuts, because I'd only ever seen those Art & Wine Festival woodcuts, the ones she very charitably described as "very accessible." But then I saw her woodcuts.

Which then made me think, Well, maybe art can be like wine. It's wonderful that you can get a $3 bottle of wine at Trader Joe's. And some of the people who start out with box wine get inspired to try the $3 wine, and then maybe on a special occasion, they will buy a $10 bottle for a birthday, and then they might like it and experiment with other wines, and a wine-lover is born.

So maybe it's possible something like that could occur with how a person responds to art. Someone who perhaps never got much exposure to art and feels unsure of himself and his opinions, but then goes to an art festival and sees the frog and thinks, I don't know Art, but I like this. And then maybe going to a museum would be more interesting, and then maybe this person might find himself educating himself about this new and interesting thing in his life.

That would be nice.

Anna L. Conti said...

Yes, that would be nice. I believe it does happen now and then. Just not often enough to suit me.

The big puzzle for galleries (and artists) that aim for the emerging collector is: how do you encourage someone to educate himself? What does it take to convince that person to walk into a gallery or a museum or an open studio, to look around, and to ask questions?

namastenancy said...

Interesting and difficult questions indeed. I just wish that arts education could start earlier so that people wouldn't be so intimidated by galleries or so fearful of anything that's outside the narrow range of recycled 19th century landscape art. I have tried to volunteer to teach art at SF schools but the Dept of (un)education is not interested. But I think that a lot of people who love art, can't afford to buy it and a lot of people who can afford to buy it would rather buy expensive clothes or electronic toys. I'm looking into volunteering at the Lighthouse for the Blind as they have a lot of enthusiasm for art - but no money to buy it! But then, when has art really ever been accessible to the majority of people? I guess when I was part of the religion, from Ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages but the situation of art and artists now is so different that there's really no point of reference.
Man - I sure talk a lot, don't I?