All the genres of art are, let's face it, confusing. Most of the time it really boils down to 'I like it' or "I don't like that'. I have a personal fondness for realism and impressionism, Da Vinci to Monet. This doesn't, however, stop me from enjoying some of Picasso's work and Van Goghs. many times, to appreciate a style that is outside our comfort zone, we have to learn a little about when the work was produced, the world at that time and the artist themselves. Placing a work into it's time frame sometimes leads to appreciation, sometimes not. There are certain works although I appreciate them, I just don't like them on a personal level.
Art appreciation is a very individual thing. Very few of us could look at 100 paintings and agree on which ones we liked. Abstract and academic art is often just not my cup of tea, but I respect the artists that stepped outside the box to create it. A Pollock to me is just drips on canvas, but to another person it's an incredible and vibrant masterpiece.
Today in the 'art world' there seems to be a preoccupation with abstract and expressionism. I see allot of new work that contains death and darkness. I'm not sure what this new genre is going to be called, but it seems to be a cry to return to some of the 'isms' of the past. Sometimes in the rush to produce a new work, it's seems technique and style are totally ignored.
So why the cave art buffalo on today's post? Picasso was greatly influenced by Neolithic cave art. You can see it's lines in much of his work. So even when a new 'style' comes along, it is rooted in something we have done before.
The American West is the home of art produced for it's beauty and as utilitarian objects. You can't think of the 'West' without thinking of silver, leatherwork and spurs. These items are produced by artist/craftspeople continuing a long tradition, both in traditional styles and modern pieces.
Silver work has long been a part of this tradition. Coming to the American West from the south, through Mexico, silversmiths have evolved a truly 'American' style. The conchos, spurs, saddles and gear of the 'cowboy' is often embellished with this artwork produced by skilled craftspeople.
It would be impossible to work the range without a good saddle and equipment. Saddlemakers and leather workers combine the utilitarian aspects of their products with the beauty that fits the land. Each leather carver develops his own style based on what he has learned and seen others produce. A fine saddle, belt or wallet is a piece of art individual to the artist.
Blacksmiths literally forged the west. Most spur and bit makers started as blacksmiths and turned their hands to spurs and bits as a way of increasing their income. To look at a finely crafted pair of spurs, with their silver embellishments is to see a fine piece of American Art.
The craftspeople that carry on these Traditional Western Fine Crafts are a slowly dwindling number as technology takes their place, but there will always be a place in the collective American Heart for the craftspeople that carry on these traditions of the American West.
It seems like a redundant question to many, but funding for the arts is constantly under fire. As we have to choose how public and private funds are spent, the arts seem to be the first thing cut, and the last repaired. This is really counterproductive. The arts enhance our lives as no other influence can. Children exposed to the arts excel in other studies. Societies without the arts quickly fall into decline and loose a record of their own histories.
Creativity is one of the things that drives innovation, not only in the humanities, but in engineering and science as well. Encouraging this creative drive encourages the development of the economy and society as a whole. The arts bring into our lives a window into our own past and present, and sometimes a forecast for the future.
Public funding of the arts has gone down drastically in recent years as other problems have taken precedence, but is this the best place to begin cutting? Art is public schools, art in our communities and entertainment is a valuable resource to the community as a whole.
Personally, if it had not been for a great art resource during my high school years, I am sure I would have fallen through the education 'crack'. Art gave me the knowledge I needed to provide a future for myself, and a career I love. This all came through an 'artist in residence' program at my high school, funded by the state. What a life changing experience. A silversmithing class at a local state owned junior college just added to this. All from public monies and programs.
I can see the value if private art enterprises. I own an art gallery and an art school. But, this must be done in partnership with public art funding of state and community programs such as the Oklahoma State Arts Councils and numerous others.
So are the arts really important? They are more than important, they are a part of what we are and who we hope to become. Let your civic and government representatives know, 'Yes, the arts really are important".
Recently Marilyn Ratzlaff of Next Chapter Group, a publisher, visited Pawhuska and Tallgrass Art Gallery so we could introduce her to Osage County's cowboy poets and writers. We were fortunate enough to bring together several cowboy poets and writers to share their work. The Osage is one of the last bastions of this spoken and written form of 'organic' poetry produced on horseback or after a long day of working on the ranches. It's an art form in it's own right.
Marilyn went away with a whole new concept of what cowboy poetry is, what these artists create and how we can work to preserve it. There poems and stories often tell of their day to day life, as well as their loves and losses. Stories told late into the night, sometimes with as much 'BS' as truth and shared with their co-workers will soon appear in a book.
Tallgrass Art Gallery is so excited to assist in bringing this art to the public as a book, or possibly several books. Preserving today's art for the future is important for all of us. When the cowboys are no more, their stories and poems will live on as memories of when the West was truly wild and cattle were tended by hard working hands. It's part of our heritage, made so famous by Oklahoma's favorite son, Will Rogers.
Because I do my work in the gallery and I am here allot, I often hear the phrase "These people are so creative and I'm not". I'm always a bit surprised when I hear this. I think we are all creative in our own distinct ways. Humans since the beginning have 'made' things, produced art and expressed themselves in many different ways. Personally, I believe we are all creative in our own way.
My mother was a quilter. I have watched her piece together materials and arrange the colors and shapes to make a great quilt. Yet if asked, she would have said "I'm not very creative". Personally, I'm not much of a cook, but I've watched people 'create' great meals. So, we are all creative, just our way of expressing it is very different and unique to 'us'. My brother can tear a car apart and put it back together, and I think that requires some creativity.
If you watch or have children, it's always amazing to see their ability to create in any medium, using whatever is at hand to do it. Drawings in the dirt are just as important and acceptable as spur of the moment theater under a shade tree. I read once that we are all extremely creative as children until we are taught not to be, an interesting idea.
So today, go out, create something, explore how you express your inner artist and enjoy the great human ability to assemble something beautiful.
Outsider art is work created by artists with no formal training in the arts. Harold Turpin is a great example of 'folk' or outsider art. Harold's canes are hand carved individual pieces, each with it's own personality. He also carves santa's, cigar store Indians and other works. At 85, Harold continues to create pieces and enjoy his work.
There are many types of folk art. Grandma Moses, folk painter, is one of the icons of 'Outsider Art' in the U.S. When you drive down the road and see a mailbox that has been given a 'facelift' with decoration and perhaps ironwork, that is also folk art.
We are proud to represent Harold at Tallgrass Studio and show his utilitarian canes as part of our collection of folk and outsider art pices.
Last weekend marked a special date as Tallgrass Art School hosted it's first weekend art retreat. Burneta Venosdel led a group of talented students in a whirlwind workshop at Liberty Ranch outside of Pawhuska that included a stay at the ranch, trips to Bronze Horse Foundry, Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and Woolaroc and a day of hands on sculpting on the ranch with a great equine model. Students were able to actually touch, measure and feel the model to produce their pieces. A highlight of the weekend was a trip to Red Roan Arena to watch a local team roping and enjoy a steak dinner. It was a horse filled weekend of adventure and sculpting.
We are so happy to be able to offer such great classes, workshops and retreats through Tallgrass Art School! Our next weekend of art is scheduled for Nov. 21st and 22nd with plein air painter Cris Sundquist. Cris will guide students from sketch to completion of a finished painting. We're sure it will prove to be as inspiring and fun as the last retreat. For information visit www.tallgrassartschool.com.
We would like to thank Larry Wade for his great overview of the weekend!
"For all who missed this event, it was one to treasure and well worth the bargain price. Hats off to Burneta especially, Bruce and the art group for putting together a really great event. It was non stop from Friday afternoon arrival at the Tallgrass Art Gallery 'til Sunday afternoon for a great special exhibit at Woolaroc Museum. The Saturday workshop was outdoors instructed by Burnetta with great detailed teaching using a live horse model provided by Mosley's, Liberty Ranch. Cindy Free, Bronze Horse did an excellent detailed walk thru on the steps for properly preparing an art piece for casting to keep cost down. The food was great and the accommodations at Liberty Ranch were excellent. All the activities were fun and exciting. It was a really great weekend getaway with friends and fellow artists, Thanks again to Burneta for all good hard work to make it a success and a fun time."
Ribbonwork is one of the traditional Fine Crafts of the Osage Nation. The great use of color, forms and techniques makes each piece a true work of art. Many of the fine skilled craftspeople learn the techniques at the foot of elders, passing on this tradition from generation to generation. Ribbonwork, fingerweaving and other crafts are still practiced in the Osage Nation today.
Older pieces, such as the wedding coat pictured above and the dance shawl are dramatic in colors and intricate in design. I have been told by one ribbon artist that she can sometimes tell the maker by the patterns and techniques.
Tallgrass Gallery is pleased to have several pieces of ribbonwork for sale. Also visit the Osage Tribal Museum for more examples of this fine traditional art or the Osage County Museum. The Marland Home, downtown Ponca City Oklahoma, also has some fine pieces in their collection.
We've been hard at work in the gallery on our new logos and got a big surprise today when Rod bailey brought us two original pieces that he recently completed.
The new logo really tells who we are, representatives of the Artists of Tallgrass, and of course, we love the bison. Rod's new tallgrass work portrays the bison in the preserve. The other new work is from his recent trip farther west with a desert landscape and pinto ponies. Rod continues to hone his craft and bring us better pieces.
Musings by Bruce Carter, Owner/Curator of Tallgrass Art Gallery