5:00 AM Saturday morning. Drinking coffee, eating rye toast with almond butter, but this morning there is no hum of the refrigerator, reflections of lights on windows, shadows of toy horses and doll houses in my view, today I am surrounded by piles of edited paintings, my favorites, an assortment of work hung on the wall, my funky portrait series, part of them wearing dunce caps, my collection of trinkets and curiosities, because I’m in my studio. I can do this now, it’s super clean and organized. My desk is clear, I can sit here and write, drink my coffee. The only problem is I want a second cup of coffee, I have to go back upstairs, opening the garage door super quietly, tiptoe up the stairs, pour another cup, then repeat getting back into my studio without the babies or my husband hearing me. I think I need it; I’ll be right back. I did it! As Jack likes to say. As I walked up the stairs I peered out the window to see the outside world, scattered clouds in a still dark sky, entering the kitchen a waft of my life rushed towards me, smells of last night’s dinner, the coffee I’m about to pour myself, the sounds I’ve become accustomed to listening to while I write. I almost feel like bringing my computer back upstairs, proceeding with my usual routine.
I haven’t had much time to write this week. I’ve been busy cleaning my studio, editing my work, getting ready for my studio visit, which happened yesterday. There’s nothing like a clean organized studio, nothing like a studio visit, which I haven’t had in I can’t even tell you how long. And there’s nothing like having a few shows lined up! Yes, I have a show lined up in the fall at a new Gallery opening in Oakland, more details to follow. I am very excited. Showing my work is essential to my art practice, not just because I really need to sell art, but it’s about the communication, I want to engage with people outside my immediate circle. Even in my immediate circle no one comes into my studio to look at my work except Lindsay and my babies. My little audience. So knowing that my work will be out there in the immediate future at three different venues, three totally different shows, different work at each show, is freeing. When my studio visit was over, after I had finished my lunch, I had two hours left to paint. I felt totally free, confident, and engrossed in the paint. The colors, the way it was drying in some places, not drying in others. It was speaking to me, I felt free because it didn’t matter what I painted, I could just have fun. My work for two of the shows is already complete, and my work for the DADA show is in progress, but going well. This is not to say there is no struggle in any of this, it’s more that all the pieces are falling into place, the machine will still breakdown, but at least it’s got a job.
I’ve been thinking about the questions posed by the curators of the DADA Here and Now show a lot. Here are the questions again:
Can art successfully challenge a fixed mindset? Is dialogue generated by provocative art possible and can it lead to change, co- existence, tolerance, and cooperation? Can art inspired by Dadaism be important or relevant today, or is it something that was of its time?
If I painted a bunch of pictures of Donald Trump, showing how I feel about him and his circus, then displayed my work in a town that supported Trump, could my work challenge their thinking? Could I get them to vote for Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?
How can we judge if our art can make change among non- artists? Most of my interaction, most of the people who see my art are other artists. I know I have influenced people in an artistic way. When I take classes and workshops, or during shows I’ve had I always get questions on technique. During workshops classmates will follow what I’m doing, try my techniques, they tell me I inspire them. This is a type of change, but it’s within a group with a similar mindset. We are already co-existing, cooperating, and tolerant of each other. But how do we reach non-artists? How do we reach non-tolerant people? How could we, artists, inspire people to live more tolerantly of other cultures and ethnicities? Is provocative art possible anymore? Everything’s already been done. There was a teacher at SFAI who used his own shit to paint with. I thought it sounded disgusting. And what kind of change was he inspiring? Before the original DADA artists, most of the work the public saw was traditional painting. The Dadaists were able to get the public’s attention, but they were still a part of a much larger movement that included the whole world, people everywhere artists and non-artists wanted change, wanted Fascism to end. If all the artists in America got together now and demanded change, rejected this political circus we find ourselves in these days, if we all get out and vote, we can make change, but through pictures and sculptures alone, I don’t know. Artists are always part of the conversation, but can they change people’s minds? I do think art inspired by Dadaism is relevant today, So much of what we artists do today can be traced back to the original Dadaists. Especially collage, assemblage, and deconstructed projects.
The original Dadaists sought to create ‘anti-art’ that shocked, ridiculed and challenged the status quo in response to the politics that fueled World War 1. They created absurd, colorful, fun art that broke all the rules simply by having no rules. Philosophically, the Dadaist response, both then and now, to the absurdities they perceive is to be mindful of the irrational and utilize the absurd as a guiding force that embraces chance procedures, playfulness, found objects, irony, and whimsical expression while also taking the opportunity to examine context, question purpose, and measure personal values against a perceived societal mean through the use of cutting edge contemporary tools to dialogue with their audience. DADA Here and NOW.
One thing that pops out is Facebook, GAP in particular is using Facebook which is a “Cutting edge contemporary tool” to show our work, create a conversation, connect with each other and work on collaborative pieces. What would the original Dadaists have done if they had Facebook? With these questions from DADA Here and Now come more questions, only four months until the show!
It’s 6:30 AM now, I’ve heard Fiona crying here and there, I probably have a half hour left. I think I’ll put on some music and paint for thirty minutes until the family wakes up. Have a beautiful weekend!