The Conversation that Never Ends

A Monthly Column by Leopoldo Seguel

(In this monthly column, I will offer my thoughts/opinions on art, community, poetry, storytelling and related topics to stimulate our thinking and create a robust conversation among us. These are strictly my views and do not represent those of the larger Poetrybridge community. You are invited to send in your thoughts/opinions and I will include them in next month’s column. I start things off with a piece titled Is Art for Sale followed by a different perspective from Koon Woon)

Is Art for Sale? Of course it is! Everywhere. But is it art?  I think not. What’s being bought and sold is simply the artifacts of the artistic life. For me it is the equivalent of confusing the spider’s web with watching a spider spinning or better yet being the spider spinning. Artifacts for sure, but not art.

In my mind, art is alive, not a commodity to be exchanged in the marketplace. Art is the experience of inspiration and creation and in its most lively and transformative manifestation, shared with others. When the musician plays his instrument, the poets and storytellers speak their creations, the stand-up comic delivers, the visual artist shows me her latest portrait, the dancers move their bodies, the actors play their parts, art is most alive for me.

Artists live an artistic life. A way of being, an approach to life, a way of thinking, a way of feeling the world. In our garden, in child caring, in how we adorn our homes, in lively conversations, in nurturing healthy relationships.

Every person is born an artist and the child understand this perfectly. I ‘taught’ preschool and every child came as artist already, and ready to work the environment, the available materials to create something, anything, everything. I just had to help create the space and the materials to feed their artistry. Unfortunately, we often learn to quell that artistic aspect of our humanness as we prepare to find our place in the marketplace of goods and services, first to survive and then sometimes driven to succeed wildly.

  The business of art.

The business of art.

May I serve you my latest artifact? Did you hear about $50,000,000 for a Vincent van Gogh sunflower painting? Yes, it happened and he never sold a single painting during his life.

Most of us limit ourselves and become hesitant as we stand before the hierarchy of the commodified world of artifacts that encourages us to become consumers, spectators and possessors of various spider webs.

Should we blow it all up and start over. I say no, we must keep the galleries, the music industry, the museums, and the libraries. I bow down to the power of the marketplace, the storage of artifacts, and the lure of consumption. I admit I have season tickets to the Seattle Symphony.

But what I also say, with a good deal of enthusiasm, is more artistry to the people whose everyday artistic lives makes our world a more interesting and pleasing place and lays the foundation for a more just and peaceful world. Does that sound a bit naïve? Perhaps.

But I point you to Mimi Swartz, who in her March 21, 2017 opinion article in the New York Times, titled ‘W.’ and the Art of Redemption, who wrote Witness George W. Bush who has discovered the power of artistry in his new incarnation as an oil painter. Mr. Bush discovered what many who paint discover: that as he worked on their portraits, he came to understand his sitters, and their pain, as well as their love for one another. A white woman in her 70s, a black man in his 40s and an older white man with a love for the wide-open spaces; that’s who taught President George W. Bush the transformative power of art.”

If it can happen to George, it can happen to all of us. Live an artistic life. Make a better world.


Koon Woon’s View On The Topic

This is too deep and broad of a subject of what is art and what gives art its value. Is it the artist who understands what real art is, or the artifact that captures the artist's effort, or is it in the mind of the beholder? So, we cannot talk about art without talking about its value, and what kind of value, and certainly the price that it is sold for is the least of such a value.

I know poetry to some extent, I guess. The value for me in writing poetry is both an aesthetic and therapeutic experience, the printed poem in a magazine or a book may be worth a few dollars, but how it affects the reader may be worth the most, at least that is my hope. The performance of the poem by a reading  is a slightly different thing and act, but it is a derivative of the poem, the written poem. The reader may enhance or detract from the poem's value at a particular reading or performance. 

I do however think that we should just present our work without any coaching the reader what to think. There are people who get nothing out of a Van Gogh and there are people who get nothing out of a Mozart piano concerto and there are people who get nothing out of a Robert Frost poem, and yet they lived fulfilled lives because their occupation or hobby is treated as an art (the Japanese Samurai for example with his swordsmanship skills). 

I am careful when I make sweeping statements about art, truth, beauty, etc. 

What do you think? Send us your thoughts/opinions or even start a new topic. You can email me at info@poetrybridge.net