Musing on Paintbars
It has been eons since I updated. As usual I have a bunch of reasons why, but ultimately I've simply had a hard time getting my thoughts together enough to write anything meaningful at all.
Part of this has been new employment. Summertime is easily my favorite time of the year, but this year it brought the loss of a car, which had been borrowed from my parents. My brother needed transportation to a fancy engineering internship (at Sig Sauer, no less), which apparently took precedence to my penchant for lounging about in robes. As a result May/June was a stress-filled mess of job search and. Eventually I procured employment at a new establishment that opened in June on Commercial Street in Portland. It follows the trend of "art bars," that is, places where people go to be taught to all paint the same painting, while overindulging in wine. I function as their cook.
I should probably keep quieter about this, but I first approached this opportunity with not a little disdain. I applied with the attitude of a throwaway “look what I’ve come to." Luckily the world once again conspired to administer a small love slap to my snobby face, and Muse Paintbar has ended up to be a great place to work. I realized that the company, a group of capable, laid back businessmen (I didn't know those existed...), was exceptional long before I came to terms with the more pedestrian artistic status of what I was a part of. However, watching classes has brought me back down to earth. Primarily, it's absolutely the best location for a customer service job I've ever seen. Everyone is always happy; they have been looking forward to the experience, been drinking, and are playing with paint. No one is expecting to create a masterpiece, it is generally full of people who profess that they have "no artistic talent,” and get to see themselves create. I love that Muse gives people who have always been too self-conscious to get involved in art a place to do so comfortably.
My I.S. (bachelor's thesis, whatever you would like to call it), was written on the art of Andy Goldsworthy, among others. He is a wonderful artist sometimes charged with the great sin of making his art too pedestrian, too "accessible," if you will. Also included in my thesis was Theo Jansen, who goes so far into accessibility as to sell models of his art. This concept inspired me to write an entire chapter on the idea of accessibility in art, and form philosophical opinions I may have lost touch with since getting so engrossed in the art world.
If art is as important to the human condition as I believe it is (as I assume most people who value art feel it is) making art inaccessible to the great majority of the population is doing the discipline a disservice. Not that art mired in ideas and vernacular understood only by the educated is in some way deficient (a conclusion I hadn't quite matured to in my thesis), but an art that can be understood and enjoyed by the entirety of the population is not only desirable but necessary for the discipline to reach its full potential. The purpose of a Muse session painting isn’t to create sellable art, it’s to allow people who wouldn’t normally to create something of their own to look at. People discover the joy of painting using art to move past their comfort zone. I have always been frustrated by the wall put up between "artsy" and "non-artsy" types of people, a separation propagated on both sides. If art stems from a person's basic desire to understand the world, as I believe, then one thing I could condemn as truly wrong is limiting oneself or others from doing so.
This post has in no way been condoned by the esteemed Dr. John Siewert, my wonderful I.S. advisor who spent the entirety of 2012 trying to get me to take sweeping value judgements out of my writing.