Getting to the Art of the Matter

I went to hear the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony last night. Beethoven’s “Pastorale,” “Violin Concerto in D Minor,” and Missy Mazzoli’s “Violent, Violent Sea” were on tap. Before going in I had opportunity to pop in to the adjacent KW Art Gallery, which had among other things, a display involving the art of Soheila Esfahani and Brendan Tang. This was altogether fascinating. I first saw a lovely group of images (ink jet printings) that were all in blue: inviting depictions of children and parents swimming in warm blue water: a cerulean circle framed by soft white. As I turned the corner, there was a stack of wooden pallets. As I got closer, I could see they were decorated with gorgeous burned wood etching in a Middle Eastern style. Stacked together, and viewed from afar, they looked like an epic stele. When I went around to the back of the stack come stele, each pallet had an email address stenciled on it! A stellar stele.

Coming around the next corner, I saw something rather hard to describe; perhaps I could liken it to the conjugal results of Chinese vases meeting Toy Story characters. Perplexed, I paused, and then moved on to another group of paintings from the first series, and suddenly it struck me: the swimming pictures were actually paintings of fine blue china, in which the careful rimmed designs on plate’s edge slowly become water, and then ripples, and then waves, and finally swimmers. Brendan Tang worked a marvel with this image. He reminded me of something I too often forget: art is a mystery.

Art inscribes life with surprise: it changes the way we look at things. Seeing the china vases enabled me to see the china plates come swimming pools, and seeing the china plates made new enables me to see the world new, in a different fashion; to hear new, with different accents and new possibilities. I suspect I heard the “Pastorale,” and I most certainly heard Mazzoli’s gorgeous “Violent, Violent Sea” differently because of Tang.

Whatever your art, know that it matters: poets parse possibilities we otherwise do not know; novelists give us novel ways to wind our way through the world; singers stretch our sense of sound’s beauty; architects arrange new ways to live together; sculptors describe and query our relationship to solidity and certainty, inviting us to imagine new futures. Our art matters no matter what sort it is. It expresses our path of self-discovery, and enables and enobles our self-emergence – even if we don’t share it with others. Art matters because our art expresses the mystery we are, and so honors the Source of mystery, imagination, and adventure.


8 thoughts on “Getting to the Art of the Matter

  1. diannegray says:

    This artwork sounds magnificent, Allen. It really does give one a different (and appreciative) perspective on life 😉

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for commenting! Yes, it really was quite lovely, and the fortuitous nature of the encounter made it that much more a delight.

  3. Any possibility of printing this column on a posterboard and putting it at the entrance to the WLS chapel for “What’s in a Veil”? I think it would be wonderfully appropriate.

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Sure, I think I should be able to manage that.

  5. jannatwrites says:

    Art can be mysterious glimpses into the artist’s psyche. Reaction is always subjective. I’m glad you were able to appreciate the unusual art that evening.

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Yes, I agree that art gives mysterious glimpses into the artist’s psyche: sometimes even for the artist!

  7. shoreacres says:

    You “missed” photographers in your list of artists, so I’ll add them, and this quotation from Dorothea Lange: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.”

    My favorite metaphor for the creative process is the kaleidoscope. The bits of reality are there, but it’s the willingness to twist the tube that rearranges them in new and interesting ways.

  8. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for the addition! What a great quotation. I find good photography to be so very demanding for the very reason noted by Lange.

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