336. June 13th… “Art Critique “…..we don’t need no stinkin padded suit and big gloves…..

“Livewires” 2009

“Very few people possess true artistic ability.  It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort.  If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass. – Fran Lebowitz

I recall while I was a student attending UNM….my junior year I was accepted into advanced painting and spent the fall… and spring semesters in the program….the process was set up to be relatively competative….some 50 people applied and between 10 -12 were selected…each had to show work…artist’s statement…all of the things the system needed to see in order to confirm we as academic artists were on the right track….diligent….driven…ready to hit the streets with brushes in hand and change the art world in front of us….

an essential part of the class was critique…something I was looking forward too as I had been in some pretty inspiring critique sessions prior to this class and was hoping for somewhat of an artistic bloodbath…. something I could walk away from feeling good about what I was doing yet knowing everything…needed some tightening….adjustments….changes that would make a difference in my work….sort of picking myself up off of the mat after a great leg kick….our first critique was really very docile and passive….unfortunately that set the stage for what was to come for the remainder of the semester….each critique we all put on our kid gloves…and packed an armament of Nerf balls….and listened to the verbal drool of artists trying to make up excuses for why they were not producing….and what the piece that obviously required no thought and less time to produce meant on some existential level….as the speaker watched the clock to fill his/her 15 minutes…with a dialogue of nonsensical explanation…references and meaningless talk about almost nothing…..I resigned myself to speak with a few instructors I knew at the university to give me honest critique of my work…something I am very thankful for…and am greatly appreciative of those few instructors….

Critique is an essential part of making the work tighter….the criticism of work by someone who knows what they are talking about can transform an OK painting into a great painting…I’ve heard many people say they can’t take the criticism…well….you are in the wrong profession to pursue….critique is designed exclusively….to make the artist….a better artist…and to think there is some personal agenda designed to damage you means 1. you are listening to the wrong people  or 2. you are taking it way to personally…..it makes sense to get intellectual opinions from peers about the work…it can only help produce better work in the long run……

there has always been this mentality among some artists that in order to be successful….there has to be some level of….suffering involved…Robert Hughes the art critic put it well:

“On the whole, money does artists much more good than harm. The idea that one benefits from cold water, crusts and debt collectors is now almost extinct, like belief in the reformatory power of flogging.”

legitimate critique is such an essential part of being an artist….critique is a tool necessary to expand the mind of the artist as well as to aid in developing the work…producing art without….honest…intellectual….critique is only a part of the process……and will only produce a portion of what could be……


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