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No time for love

The art of the deal
Dear Dr. Jones
by GZO Jones

ZO Jones is no ordinary guy. Just ask him – he'll tell you all about his murky triumphs back in the day, when beat was spelled with an upper-case "B" and men like Bukowski and Kerouac roamed the planet, mighty dinosaurs of the literary sort. But if his Brazilian Web site (GZO Jones Town) is any indication ... well, as we like to keep in mind, Dr. Jones has a way with words, never turns down a good question and hasn't missed a deadline.

Dear Dr. Jones,

I've been looking at all of this art lately and I still can't tell "good" from "bad." Sometimes I think it looks like shit and it's worth a million dollars, other times I love it and the "critics" call it shit. What do you do?

Serious Art

Dear Art,

I get the feeling you must go to those galleries where there's a 10-foot-square frame and a postcard-sized splatter of Dutch Boy in the center. It might be hard to believe, but an old psychedelic freak like myself can't stand modern art. Abstract is worse. That Serrano show was the first and only time I've been 86ed from the Met.

There's too much room for interpretation, like trying to understand a poem with all the punctuation and capitals left out. I've always found the modern styles to be like brand names. The shoe is no different, but the little sigil on the side makes it "worth" 50 bucks more ... though maybe I'm biased ever since the time Salvador Dali made a pass at me. Only a well-timed slash of the ol' balisong kept my maidenly virtue unsullied, and he looked awfully surreal with half a moustache ...

Actually, I follow a few friendly clichés whenever I try to wrap my arms around any so-called art:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Don't discount this seemingly simplistic one: why pretend to like something you don't like? Some men like big-breasted women, and others do not ...).
  • If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck (And if it looks like crap ...).
  • I know it when I see it (This, of course, follows the method the U.S. Supreme Court uses to define porn, and where I run into problems is with erotic art. Of course, not all problems are bad ...).

I've known a lot of artists in my day, and a lot of pretenders. But the fact is that you could probably exchange the name at the top of both those lists and make a strong argument either way. So here's the bottom line: Art is to be enjoyed, not fretted over. If you see something you like, enjoy. If you really like it (and can afford it), buy it. And if not, move on.

Hell, if money was the be-all and end-all, a $500 prostitute would be worth more than any man's wife. Of course, that sort of economy of scale will buy you nothing but trouble.

In the end the only thing that separates a critic from the masses is the price of a typewriter. And your opinion is the only one that even comes close to mattering (except for mine).

– Jones

Examine more advice from GZO Jones, visit his Web site and e-mail your problems, large or small, to gzojones@hotmail.com.

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