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The Braid

"The Braid," Charcoal, by Peggy N. Brewer
"The Braid," Charcoal, by Peggy N. Brewer
"No art is good because it has beauty; it has beauty because it is good," writes John P. Sedgwick, Jr., Ph.D., in the introduction of his book, "Art Appreciation Made Simple," probably the 1959 equivalent of today's "for Dummies" series of books. However, like so many things from mid-century, it offers serious thought and ideas instead of the "art is anything you want it to be" ambiguity. I love ambiguous art, don't get me wrong, I just believe there should be a personal standard or seeking, if not a social one. I love how the author states that his emphasis is "on art as something of permanent value created above all for its own sake; and appreciation as our active experience of it." His view is that art should change our lives, we should see more than its immediate appearance, and it should convey continuing enthusiasm for the wonder of art creation. He refers to the "spiritual communication" of art, which seems to be the perfect way to describe it. This mystical feeling is well described in an article a fellow artist sent my way. I love how Mr. Sedgwick gives a few criteria for art--which are not techniques but qualities like poise and strength--and dares to say that these ultimately define its value "as opposed to a lesser or non-work of art."  Can you imagine someone today calling a piece a "non-work of art" and anyone caring? Art involves incessant struggle and the best artists represent a heroism and truth that does not reflect the values of their society but instead provides them, he says. This is the product of their search, and it has nothing to do with their style or medium or all the categories we are so tangled up in today. This is why I love buying old books for a dollar at used book sales--who talks like this now? "Significant art has a metaphysical value," he concludes in the final paragraphs. Best of all, he says "that which is transmitted, though complex and ever-changing, is not for that reason obscure." How uplifting for all artists, wherever they are, whose work may be obscure or who are working in obscurity. Or maybe they are just obscure people; but I digress. Anyway, here is "The Braid," done in charcoal with the Whitmore Lake Portrait Group. Is it beautiful, or is it just that she is beautiful? I recently posted on my Facebook page the 18 characteristics of creative people, and one is attraction to beauty. That seems universal to all people, though, and I am reminded of a quote by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest."  He said a lot of neat things..if you want to read more, go here.

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