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A must see exhibition …

It was touted to be a must see exhibition. The local art writer (critic) was on the record for one thousand words of praise and excitement. According to the local newspaper the show had reached the pinnacle of Art as we know it. So I went, or better my wife, my son and I went. We do this often; the three of us, make it a day, a museum exhibition here, and a gallery show there, and then off to a well earned dinner at one of our favorite eateries to discuss what we just experienced.

Somehow this day was different. It all started with great expectations; off to an acclaimed gallery show with highly recognized artists, then over to the big museum for an historical overview of a major American artist’s paintings, and then to our favorite restaurant in Old Town. Should have known this was not going to be all that it was cracked up to be.

I should start with the fact that I am an artist who makes beautiful things, whether I paint, sculpt, or assemble, the end result is a beautiful object, or at least that is my intention. I’ve been called ‘old school’ for still doing easel painting, ‘out-of-date’ by a colleague for not using the computer to produce my works, and completely ‘out of touch’ by one of my former college professors. The professor has lost all of their hand skills, works exclusively out of the computer from manipulated photographs, and considers herself to be on the ‘cutting edge’ of modern art. (Yes, I am hiding the professor to some extent in an act of self-preservation.)

Museum walls hear the darndest comments.

Sitting on the gallery bench in front of a long wall of randomly bent and arranged naked wires, each protruding haphazardly from the surface with false shadows cast from the wires onto the white wall, I was dumbfounded. What exactly was I seeing? As I sat there next to a gentleman who, like me, sat in silence, a long line of people approached and inspected the work, some made comments and some had questions, but they all admired the work. The comments ran the gamut from realistic to absurd, informed to ridiculous, and reasonable to downright silly.

“Mediocre art is simply a reflection of a culture, Great art transcends it.” 

from A Conversation With Painter Philosopher – Matthew James Collins

Finally two young artists approached the wall and carried on an incongruous discussion on the importance of works that call into question ‘Art’ in the modern world. They stood in front of the gentleman and I sitting on the bench and it was almost as if they were lecturing the two of us on the importance of art that challenges the viewer to rethink what art is.

Something like this!

The one proud sentence uttered by the pair that sticks out in my mind was; “You’ll never see something like this in the Louvre!” I doubt that either of them had been to Europe let alone the Louvre. What struck me was when they did not call it art, they called it ‘something like this’. Their conversation went on and on for some time.

After they walked away I started to chuckle, quietly but evidently loud enough that the gentleman sitting next to me heard me laugh. We turned and looked at each other and all he said was;Mediocre artists admire each others work.”

About the Author

Lawrence Klepper

Lawrence Klepper

As an artist, Gallery Management Instructor, Gallery Director, Independent Curator, and Special Exhibitions Coordinator for City art museums, college art galleries, and commercial galleries in Califor...