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Guest Writer

Art is not just a man's name!
by Tania Rain

During college, Ed Versluis would say, "Art is an experience in itself." Versluis filled his class with abstract ideas and critical thinking. It was obvious his teaching flew over our heads when "C" turned out to be the common grade in class. Versluis' statement about art has perplexed me for years. I studied art and own a gallery. I know what art is, I even think I know what good art is. But what is with this definition?

The American Heritage Dictionary says art is a creative or imaginative activity, especially the expressive arrangement of elements within a medium. This definition is straightforward and understandable. Then why has there ever been a debate?

One historical quote says, "Art is craft transcended." Transcend means to go beyond, to exceed. Humans create art, display art, enjoy and value art. Therefore, art is only a human experience. Yes, it's true that art can be made by nature. But have you ever seen two animals contemplating over art? "Hey there Rocky, How much coffee do you think it took Mother Nature to create this masterpiece?"

Steve Frazier, the preparator and registrar of the Schnieder Museum of Art in Ashland, Ore., says, "Art is hard work. It is a journey through the process and must have an end result." He explains that art is an essence -- the excitement from the initial concept to when and if it bears fruit. "A good artist needs to let go in the process," declares Frazier.

Good art should evoke an emotion while conveying a message from the artist. Whether you love it or despise it, it has effected you. If it hasn't left an impression it has not done its job. Frazier says, "The same piece over time should change as your values change." If you identify with a drawing because it reminds you of your childhood and you come back to that drawing years later, it may not have the same effect because you have changed. Each person's experience of that same drawing is a unique and individual experience.

Recently, my photography gallery in Ashland displayed paintings for the first time. Ahly Mueller paints spontaneously using bright reds, oranges and greens. Her subjects are demonic and alien-like. I love the colors and the characters. The work is from the genre of the 1980s and 90s. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I could identify. But a women walked in, a pastor's wife, with a very different viewpoint. Her opinion was that the artist was sick, especially when she read the title: "Jesus loves you, you arrogant little shit."

Everyone has their own opinion.

See more from Tania in our archives.

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