We walked through several artists showings. The people in attendance at these things all looked like they were trying to put on the aire of the perfect artiste. I saw one young guy who had his hair styled in a half-pompodore on top with edge lines cut out horizontally along the sides of his head. His outfit defies any description beyond, "You spent at least 5 hours in the thrift store picking each piece that you felt would make a statement." I evesdropped a conversation he was having with a pixie that I could not gender to save my own life. Sie was tiny and blonde and had a biiig pink handkerchief hanging out of her right pocket. (And you know what that means, girlfriends!) Sadly upon listining to the conversation I realized that pompodope was about as deep as your 4 year old's Sesame Street plastic, summer pool.
The artwork showed promise. only two pieces really leaped out at me and said, "This is really good" Many of the artists also displayed pieces that felt more like they were trying to capture a statement that would be well received rather than digging into their inner soul to produce something from them. jnanacandra and I had long conversations about artwork we saw. I was glad to be able to draw back on my Theatrical training and a wonderful course in articulating artistic opinion (called, 'contemporary drama') to give fairly deep and intelligent commentary about the art we saw. Translation: yup, I too can be an art critic.
The highlight (or lowlight if you will) of the evening was the arrival of the angry clown posse.Picture 1, Picture 2. While standing at the entrance of one building of gallery like offices in an alley on the ArtWalk, we heard a demonstration. Several people dressed as clowns were picketing. The signs and the yells were along the idea of, "Art is Theory", "Down with Art" "Art is a myth!", "Down with Dali!", "Kiss my picAsso." The lead clown had a megaphone. They all had the requisite bike horn. This was amusing for about 10 seconds. For me the amusement ceased when some irate art snot decided to throw a cup of either water or white wine down on the demonstrators below. My amusement ended because the dumping missed the clowns entirely and landed on jnanacandra and I instead.
The clowns proceeded to go into galleries with their rigamarole (Thank the Gods for spell checkers, I always wondered how that was spelt) The demonstration became less and less humourous to me. Especially when they'd boisterously crowd into a gallery, spout their message, and make it utterly impossible for any other patron to actually look at the art on display. There was a lot of shoving (not the "intentionally aggressive" kind, more of the "big city, I just don't care what I do" kind). I contemplated (for about a minute) analyzing the demonstration as art. Perhaps how I'd appeal to one of them about the frivolity of calling anything in our world "theory". I contemplated how a true clown would act the fool and not even acknowledge debate or argument, and decided to do my best to avoid them.
They stayed in acoustically unfortunate areas so their clambouring and honking was overtly noticeable. One of the people I met during the evening fashioned herself a writer (and I am also told a kink model.) We talked about the flurry of art-smush-speak I could come up with expressing the "abstract dichotomy of a clown's lack of inhibition to rebel against an inner conflict over the definition... blah blah blah."
Then the director kicked in. I was annoyed by the clowns... I went to the happy place in my brain and took out my toys, and started cutting the scene.
Well, in the mood the clowns had put me in, mind you.
I got the vision of a young and new artist. Trying to make his first presentation of his work. He's small, soft spoken, and tries to paint the beauty in the world. He tries to see the good in the deep of any darkness. Almost a Bob Ross kind of fluffy lightness about him. You wonder if he keeps kittens.
Suddenly the clowns walk in. The noise can be heard through some obnoxiously brash music like, "Bad to the Bone". They bring their signs, their horns, and their protests. Patrons start getting forcibly shoved out of the way. "Art is bad!" "Stop teaching art in school" One clown knocks over a painting of a kitten. The artist backs up into the corner of his studio to where he has a simple chair at a table.
Two clowns link his arms and lead him around his own exhibition. They drill him about what each painting is supposed to mean. They ask him if there is a point to it beyond exhibitionistic self gratification. (More patrons get pushed into walls) The questions become like an interrogation from an old war film. He says simply with almost a tear in his voice. It's my work... my life... I do it because it's who I am. The lead clown comes over with his megaphone and the face of the artist, "Then you are a waste of life." He grabs the painting off the wall and throws it across the room. It floats in an soft arc across the studio like that last thrown basketball in the final seconds at the state championship. But this doesn't score. It lands on a baby carriage, knocking the child out. The child instictively grabbing out hooks a painting and pulls it down on itself. The baby is physically okay, but crying. The torn painting of a simple rose lays on top of her.
A close up of the artists eyes. The light in the artist's eyes changes.
The artist slams the two clowns into the wall and reaches for something under the desk. The artist surfaces with a shot gun. One by one the artist takes shots at the faces of the clowns. No discrimination. Male, female, young, old. In the most gruesome manner splattering his own paintings with the blood of heads shot at point blank range. No discrimination save one. The lead clown. Bullets, not rapidly fired. But with the precision of a surgeon. With the precision of an artist who painstakingly could paint the stamen of a lily. The gun shots are muffled by the sound of the screams of the clowns, the patrons, and the heart or the artist. One can almost here the strains of "Art isn't easy" from "Sunday in the Park With George."
The lead clown falls to his knees. "It was a statement. It was our way of showing... showing..." tears choke his words and streak his makeup. "We wanted to..." It was...
"It was art." says the artist. Strains of Pagliacci are heard. He cocks the gun back like a golfer about to swing. The solo approaches crescendo, the artist swings, the but of the shotgun meets the head of the lead clown. It goes black.
"But art is a theory. It's not real", The solo swells to its peak and then fades away. Rose petals fall. Credits.
So the director in me has a warped side. But, it made me less annoyed at the clowns ;)