Side Effects

"Side Effects," 24x24in., acrylic on aluminum

I've been thinking a lot about technique these days. On the one hand, that's all art is, a unique, creative, stylized way of saying the same old, same old about love, loss, celebration, strength, corruption, etc. Nothing new, but expressed in ways that seem fresh and strike just the right chord at the right time.

On the other hand, you can give yourself over entirely to technique, like a master cabinetmaker or a classical musician. You can work real hard at it, get as good as the mastersand forget what it was you aimed to achieve with the art in the first place. You can get lost. In other words, it's not the art that's the end (art for art's sake), but a tool to something bigger.

In today's art world, with the rise of conceptual art, we've definitely shifted away from the manually adept, virtuosic side of art and have refocused on what the point of it all is and how it can change the ways we perceive things in a radical sense.

I've always tried to tread a line between the two, and probably most admire the artists that have achieved or at least respect this (Ai Weiwei, the Kronos Quartet, Banksy, William Morris, and Diego Rivera come to mind), but I've probably lapsed more into the manual craft side.

In ways the divide reminds me of the discussion about artists and class. The artist "is persistently working up to be accepted, not only by other artists, but also by the hierarchy that exhibits, writes about, and buys their work," writes Lucy Lippard in "The Pink Glass Swan." "At the same time, s/he is often ideologically working down in an attempt to identify with the workers outside of the art context and to overthrow the rulers in the name of art."

The painting, by the way, is a view of Laguna Beach, way out of frame.