April 30, 2006

HEY, ART DOESN'T HAVE TO SUCK! (via Mike Daley):

Bright Spots: The Harlem Studio of Art (Roger Kimball, 4.28.2006, New Criterion)

So much distasteful rubbish is foisted upon us today in the name of culture that it is easy to fall prey to despondency and think: "The game's up! Our culture is rotten to the core. Cyril Connolly was right when he complained that it was `Closing time in the gardens of the West.'" It's easy, but it's mistaken. Really, if you look, there are plenty (well, some) bright spots in our culture. And if it is important to expose the rotten bits (and that is important), it is also important to celebrate the good, the salubrious, the vital, the hopeful. It's not just that despair is a sin, as the Doctors of the Church remind us: it's also that there really are plenty of things worth admiring if only we have the patience to see them.

To that end, I herewith inaugurate an occasional series of musings I shall denominate Bright Spots: good things, promising things in our culture that have been unfairly neglected or are as yet insufficiently known. My first offering is The Harlem Studio of Art, a classically-oriented art school and atelier in the upper reaches of Manhattan. Directed by Andrea J. Smith, the Harlem Studio offers students something almost unheard of today: rigorous training in modeling, one-point perspective, cast drawing, and all the other technical aspects of art that, based in Renaissance practice, one used to assume would be part of an artist's training but, for at least the last five or six decades, have gone the way of good manners and other accoutrements of civilization. It is a small atelier, with only a handful of students, but it makes a big impression and has already begun to attract a number of talented students and artists interested in continuing rather than destroying the tradition of our artistic heritage.

Make sure to follow the link to see the artwork.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2006 12:00 AM

After so many years of being told that if you don't appreciate what is being sold as "art," the fault is in yourself, it's delightful to be able to appreciate art and call it beautiful.

Posted by: erp at April 30, 2006 12:17 PM

Erp, you said it. Years now here in Seattle I'm the curmedgeon, the "Mr. You Don't Like Anything" because I don't sit in the cafe and "oooh" and "ahh" over the latest landfill that's proudly hanging on the walls with $800 price stickers afixed to the frames. These same people don't seem to know anything about art. Say, "Harlem Renassaince" or "Edward Hopper" and be rewarded with blank stares or sneers. Say "fine impasto" and they try to find where the artist threw spaghetti at the canvas (to see if it was done.) THE ART IN THIS TOWN SUCKS.

Posted by: Tito at April 30, 2006 1:13 PM

tito, it must really be an ordeal to live the Seattle area. I hope you are raking in the big bucks to make it worthwhile.

Here's my favorite picture of all time. Early">http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/hopper/street/hopper.early-sunday.jpg">Early Sunday Morning.

When I was a kid, my father had a little luncheonette at 31 E. 30th Street in Manhattan, for you Big Apple buffs, it was right across the street from the long-gone Martha Washington Hotel for Women.

Hopper's painting perfectly depicts the pre-war era that to me represents the quiet dignity of the tenement dwellers. I have large print in my bedroom and when I look at it, I'm transformed into that little girl again.

Truly, they don't make them, painters or people, like they used do.

Posted by: erp at April 30, 2006 5:47 PM