Tuesday, July 12, 2011



Recently the Curator for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum was heard to say that whatever appears not to be art was “Art”. Turning this into a syllogism I assumed that whatever, then, appears to be art is not “Art”.

I know this seems to be a great leap forward, but after browsing through the contemporary galleries in Chelsea and the Museum of Modern Art I began to think the concept correct. What is now being accepted as contemporary art has little to do with what I have thought to be art. Specifically, my own work as an artist probably is no longer art.

I don’t do conceptual art, although I think every painting has some sort of concept, however old fashioned. I don’t do installations. I must admit I’m not handy at building things. And I don’t do videos. I do not feel qualified to judge these new versions of art, unless seventy years of attendance at movies, now called film, has any judgmental validity.

You will notice that I haven’t mentioned painting as a category of contemporary art. I do think there are great living painters still working today, but I get the feeling that more and more they are thought of as part of history.

Which brings me to my own personal dilemma. Since I no longer seem to do what is called Art in the contemporary world, what is it I do? If I am no longer an artist, what can I call myself? I have to find another genre or category into which I can fit.

I admit that some consider me elderly. I was fired from my last university teaching job by an art faculty that did not consider the drawing and painting skills I taught valuable enough to be part of a computerized curriculum. So age may be a factor. I do know that my work will increase in value after I have gone to that great art studio in the sky. I have even pondered faking my own demise to watch it happen, but that may be tempting fate. At any rate, I’m probably a part of history now, however minor a part that may be.

One day my wife, the excellent artist, Lucy Graves McVicker, and I were waiting at the train station to go to New York City, when we heard this conversation.

First Gentleman: “Don’t you have a seat in Club 100? (Club 100 was a special chair car on an earlier express train for high-powered executives. You had to wait for a member to die to get elected to the vacant seat. I believe inflation has changed the name to Club 200)

Second Gentleman: “Yes, but I find this later local more convenient for my time schedule at the office”.

First Gentleman: “Then why do you keep your seat in Club 100?”
Second Gentleman: “Well, because, to tell you the truth, I want it mentioned in my obituary in the Times.”

Moral: We’re all looking for our place.

Since none of the skills I have developed during my lifetime are any longer valid in the art world, do I create my own world? Perhaps, as I develop these blogs on my life in art, I will find my place.