Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Exhibition

July 2nd was the opening reception for the Arts 2010 juried exhibition, in which my painting was included, and which runs until August 29th. While the gallery was pretty well packed upon arrival, after at least 30 minutes the number diminished suddenly, it seemed, by half. One really cannot blame the vapid post-modern attention span too much, when the collective non-aura of the work in the gallery is taken into consideration.

The opening address was so blandly ethereal and unmarked by any hint of boldness or any common connection with human life that it was the very extension of what is called "applied art". I don't know if this is part of some purposeful and conscious effort to neutralize all manifestations of truth with the very language that employs words like diversity, expression, creativity and so forth, into a politicized ghetto where subjectivism rules (and where even subjectivity is annihilated).

Our cultural ghetto is not one of suppression, at least not in the explicit sense. It is one of a very deadly and subtle assimilation. And the artist who makes pretend that he is positing truth and diversity against the flattening effects of this culture does not understand that he is merely feeding it - that is to say, he does not understand that the de-spiritualizing, anti-incarnational operatives are coming from that assimilative field which is at its most deceptive when it appears as some kind of neutral ground. If the artist wants to create portals that open onto the infinite, he must come out of the boat like St. Peter.

I was certain there was going to be at least one homo-promo painting in the exhibit, as this has been a usual course with the gallery over the years; but there was not one - I hate to almost say - sadly. Because when you look at work like the following,

the initial thought that comes to mind is that a few of those propagandistic paintings would be practically welcome.

In the above works, guess which won first place in the "works on canvas" category. Now guess which won second. Now guess which got honourable mention. I'll make it easy: the pictures are in that order, starting from top to bottom.

Notice I discluded third place in that list. Third place - and showing that not all is lost - was the painting shown here, of the oranges, in between the two others (and hey, they placed my painting beside it!):

What is sadder is that a good chunk of artists who won awards or honourable mention did not even show up at the reception to receive their recognition. Is so-and-so here? So? Alright, on to the next one. Now, some years back, when a painting of mine was included in the exhibition, I didn't go to the opening reception. It didn't win anything, but I realize now that the good thing to do is to show up, whether one gets first, second, third, honourable mention, or is simply included in the exhibit.

But what kind of arrogant indifference rules when a second place winner doesn't show, along with a bunch of other "winners"? And please don't give me any of that humble anonymity foulness. Talk about a cultural event that is a lie in every respect. It's rather diabolical; for what is a worse dismantling of our sense of cultural event - and thus of community - than a cultural event that negates itself - playing out its symbolical inversion as though it weren't inversion? But it's a lie.

Winners were hesitant to show up, and viewers were quick to leave. The opening speech almost implored the audience not to listen too hard, and the top canvas picks of the jury sucked donkey shit. A big pile of donkey shit would actually be more interesting, to one who has the contemplative gumption, with the flies that buzz around it and land thereon, laying their wormy progeny within; how it mixes with the rain, and how it bakes in the sun, the pathogens being killed off, and its final blessed withering into the soil that produces life and nutrition.

I went back to the gallery a couple weeks after the opening to take pictures. This exhibition I was pleased - or at least not exasperated - with how my painting appeared:

And I liked this landscape:


Enbrethiliel said...


We all know I'm totally biased, but I like your painting the best.

It's even better than the one with the oranges.

And oh, my--that skull! I once had a roommate who liked to draw monsters and seriously scary stuff and put them up on our walls.

Oh, look: she's on Deviant Art!

Some of the stuff in her gallery was on our wall first! Anyway, I kind of like that skull in your gallery more than the skull that was in our room.

Anyway, I'd make the rounds of some galleries over here and take some pictures for you (because I think you'd actually like some of the paintings), but I don't think people are allowed to take photos. =)

Enbrethiliel said...


I made my little brother look at your photos. These are his reactions . . .

First Place Winner:

"Hey! It's a bunny! And there's a flying duck! And a dinosaur head!"

Second Place Winner:

"That's a painting???"

Honourable Mention:


Your Painting:

"Food! . . . That's celery, right?"

The Landscape:

"I like that one! It's nice."

The Skull:


Anyway, I'm sorry that my brother doesn't know his vegetables, but at least he was spot on about the first three winners, right? =P

Terry Nelson said...

I do not like or 'get' the winners.

I like your painting very much - but I think I told you that before.

I'm entering a piece in a juried show next month. I normally don't tell people when I do that because I don't want to be embarrassed if it is rejected. I have never won beyond Honorable Mention.

I really have extrememly low self-esteem - I know that is lame to say - but I never go to openings or the announcement of winners because I'm embarrassed since I think my work isn't very good. (A friend always pushes me to enter something.)

Once I went to a show my piece won an award in and I stood back while people walked by, I heard comments like, "Why would this be honored?"

I honestly wondered why as well.

Enbrethiliel said...


Terry's comment reminds me of why I no longer write "serious" fiction or poetry.

A few months ago, I was musing that I no longer have the knee-jerk "Oh, man, that's awful!" reaction to writing I've done since I started blogging, which I saw as a sign of progress. But a few weeks ago, I admitted to myself that my blogging isn't also my writing. So I've been hiding.

At least the winners (and you and Terry) get your real work out there. I wish I had a friend pushing me to enter more things.

Paul Stilwell said...

Your biased appraisal, Enbrethiliel, is all I need to hear. At least according to my biased opinion.

Oh dear Lord, please don't tell me the skull that was in the room is the same used for her avatar. I used to draw dark stuff - perhaps from the subconscious - though it never got into the seriously scary. I remember going to my friend's house, whose mother and grandmother are artists, to show my drawings. I had received some lessons from his mother. His grandmother is from Brazil and she's a sort of "sensitive". I remember her not even mentioning anything about the drawings, and she said to me as she pointed out the window at some ducks they owned: "You need to draw things outside of yourself". Not that that was a turning point or anything.

I'd love to see some pictures from galleries over there. What's the worse that could happen? They tell you to stop taking photos, and then you pretend like you had absolutely no idea!

LOL to your brother's reactions. All of the reactions. Really, the first three are indeed as accurate as you can get. You know, I took a photo of the artist's lengthy, abstractly verbose commentary for the first place painting. I decided not to post it, but oh, how I would love to show it, then have your brother's words after it: "Hey! It's a bunny! And there's a flying duck! And a dinosaur head!"

There's nothing like the truth.

Paul Stilwell said...

Terry, my best wishes for your entry next month.

The writing in this post was mainly my emotional frustration with there seeming to not be any real culture here. It's like there is just the facsimile of culture. For this vacuity I think I assigned the absent artists as a kind of metaphor in my mind. Of course, I was being presumptuous in the extreme, saying "arrogant indifference", since they could have been absent for all manner of real reasons.

And I do consider low self-esteem (for want of a better word; I know what you mean by it, and that it is not merely its pyschological implication) a real reason; if only because I am well-acquainted with it, in life. Though I would not presume to think mine is as yours in every's just that I know and understand what your saying through my own experience.

I know that if I overheard people say the same thing about one of my paintings at an exhibition, I would have no trouble believing their words, *but* I would probably struggle mightily with resentment, because there is pride in me.

Paul Stilwell said...

E, I'm pushing you to enter more things.

Well, over the internet is not so convincing a push I guess...but I'm serious.

Enbrethiliel said...


No, the skull used for her avatar isn't the same one in our room, but it might as well be! =P I begged her to take her art down; she refused. And then she offered to do a tarot card reading for me. Fun, fun, fun!!!

My "favourite" drawing of hers--which always made everyone laugh when I described it, though I didn't see what was funny--featured an androgynous, angular, chalky face with a forked horn protruding from its forehead and twisting back to stab it in the eyes.

She is actually another person who wanted to write a story/graphic novel with me, after we were no longer roommates. When she was done explaining the plot, I found an excuse to log off and then blocked her on the messenger progamme forever. (Me bad friend.)

I'm not sure when I can get to a gallery, but here is something online. Last year, I got to interview the guy who painted these:

He has made a name for himself for expressing the culture of the mountain tribes in his area.

(Since I'm totally into plugging myself, my article is here: . . . and okay, that is one bit of writing that I will kick myself over for many years to come.)

Cablog is very different from both you and Terry, definitely. (And odd, I don't seem to remember so many topless women the first time around. Hmmmmm.)

When I first found your blog and you had that Beckmann painting of fish, I tried to remember the name of a Filipino artist who likes putting fish into everything he paints, whether or not it belongs. He became well known for painting women fish vendors. Once, when a grand lady commissioned a portrait of herself, she made the special request that he not exhibit it next to a painting of a fish vendor. So he exhibited it between two paintings of fish vendors. (Heh-heh.) I still can't remember who he is, though.

Paul Stilwell said...

Sort of lends a literal sense to the phrase, "I got landed with the roommate from hell." The drawing of the horns stabbing the face's own eyes does sound comedic, but very troubling (okay, nausea-inducing) at the same time. No doubt she would take "troubling" as a high compliment.

The sundered contact means nothing compared to the prayers she'll have from you.

I feel proud of myself that I already read that article at Fully Booked earlier when you linked to it at Shredded Cheddar!

Cablog likes his nudes as much as your former roommate likes her skulls. I like his use of flamboyant folk colour, and the solid dignity. I'm still very unresolved about the whole Nudity Deal in Art.

BTW, I was half joking when I said to pretend that you had no idea about taking photos in a gallery if they told you you couldn't do it. I really wouldn't want you to lie. And don't feel obligated to photograph in the galleries, as much as I would love to see them.

I liked that story. I should try some searches using "fish vendors".

Enbrethiliel said...


It's probably a good thing you told me you were half joking because the idea appealed very greatly to my lower nature. I was already plotting ways I could take pictures without being shooed away. =P

Terry Nelson said...

Paul - thanks. I just came across this painter whose work reminds me of yours somehow - see what you think:

Paul Stilwell said...

Thanks for that link, Terry. Oh, I really like the artist's work!

Paul Stilwell said...

Enbrethiliel, dang it. A half joke leaves a lot of 'serious' in there doesn't it?

Or am I kidding now?