art

Art Geeks

Hobbies are the best.

They’re a never-ending source of inspiration and fascination for me. Watching someone who is transfixed by their side gig, and who is good at what they do – it doesn’t matter what the hobby is, it’s fun to watch and listen.

I’ve had my share of hobbies over the years: comic books, old Macintosh computers, photography, travel. You know I’m into something if I start a blog about it.

Sculpture Geek here – he’s making videos about the sculptures he creates, and it’s a joy to behold.

I have a theory that the fan art we see these days is just another version of religious art during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. What do we care about? What are we passionate about, as a culture? What moves us emotionally? That’s what gets made in sculpture, painting, drawing, etc. And a lot of it comes with no expectations of fame, money, or recognition. Most people just want others to share in the joy of creation.

Count me in.


Gateway to Art

Experience the Art

“The gateway drug is not creating art, but experiencing art.” – Christoph Niemann in Abstract: The Art of Design

Indeed. I’m lucky, working at a museum, because I experience art every day. But even before this job, I made sure to visit museums and seek out good work.

Artists’ websites, photo books, small town galleries – there’s no excuse not to surround yourself with, and absorb, art. I’d argue, given everything else, that it makes you a better artist.


Artist In Residence

Porcupine Mountains, Michigan

Talk about an opportunity:

The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to artists and artisans whose work can be influenced by the unique northern wilderness setting of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan’s largest state park encompasses 25 miles of wave-washed shores, four inland lakes, entire river systems, countless waterfalls, enchanting wooded peaks, and an escarpment, which rises slowly from the edge of Lake Superior until it plummets abruptly into the Carp River valley.

The Artist-in-Residence Program offers writers, composers and all visual and performing artists an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the park and to express it through their art form. Each year a number of artists will be selected for residencies lasting a minimum of two weeks.

Again: if I were a younger man, and photography was a hobby, I would jump at this.

Back in 2011, I visited Michigan’s only mountain range during a drive-through trip in the Upper Peninsula. It’s beautiful country. A two-week stay to do nothing but explore and make art? It would’ve been a dream for my younger self.


Lack Of Agency

Lack Of Agency

Seth Godin’s recent post hit a nerve:

There are institutions, professionals and organizations that would like you to believe that you don’t have much choice in the matter.

They want to take away your agency, because it makes their job easier or their profits higher.

But you have more choice than you know.

In our recent move, I’ve twice dealt with corporations and utilities that have made me feel like I have no agency. Most recently, Apple Support left me hanging on an Apple ID and iTunes issue. Apple! A company I’ve supported each of my adult years!

Call support centers are a form of capitalist nihilism. There’s no reason for any of the decisions made except to make the company’s situation better, and to help you feel powerless. It’s rare that a support interaction has a positive outcome – so rare, that we marvel at Creation when it happens.

My Apple interaction was especially galling. From 2005-2008, I purchased a bunch of music under an old Apple ID. From 2008 on, I’ve been purchasing music from a different Apple ID, unaware of the consequences, so now I have a bunch of music in limbo. The support center’s solution? “Switch Apple IDs each time you want to listen to that music.” Helpful! And silly. What they don’t tell you is that each time you switch Apple IDs in iTunes, it locks the previous Apple ID for 90 days.

Three months! Unacceptable. And completely arbitrary.

So now I’ll be sticking to downloading my music from companies with fewer arbitrary restrictions (as Godin writes, keeping the “ability to shop around”). It’s one of the reasons I don’t rely on subscription-based music services. There is, by definition, no agency involved in that transaction. If you unsubscribe, all the music goes away.

The larger point can be applied to creativity and photography, of course. There’s creative agency – that sense of not being held hostage by expectations and self-imposed pressure. On the technology side, by submitting our work to Instagram and Tumblr, you’re giving up a bit of agency. And if something goes wrong, your only recourse is a faceless call center, if that.

My one weak spot: Flickr. I rely on Ol’ Reliable for so much of what I do, including image hosting for this very blog. And I have a lot of time and infrastructure wrapped up in that website. If something goes wrong, I’ll be in a bit of trouble. It won’t be catastrophic, but it certainly won’t be fun.

When we keep our agency, in the form of hosted, backed-up websites and blogs, we have a bit more say in the matter. We can always pack up and put up our tent somewhere else.


Make Time For Beauty

Just Because I'm Weak

Good advice in general, but maybe especially these days, from Jon Ward:

A healthy perspective on politics, and life in general, requires time away from politics…

Creating is a big part of making room for beauty. But so is making time for enjoying and appreciating beauty, through art, nature, music, etc.

Losing yourself in something other than politics is good medicine.