In Defense of Art

Category:  BloggERy
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 10:23 PM
In Defense of Art by Jay Stevens
http://www.ludmilapawlowska.se/

 In the latest issue of the Erie Reader, Luke Gehring had this to say about "Icons in Transformation," an exhibit of Ludmila Pawlowska's works of inspiration from traditional Orthodox Christian icons currently shown at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and an exhibit the critic never attended.

"Holy icons belong to the church alone, period." Gehring criticized the reception for the images as "inappropriate for holy things," claimed its choice of date was "insensitive" to the church schedule, said the cathedral's dean "has no credentials" to give remarks on the exhibit. Gehring questioned the venue's right to show icons to people who do not venerate them and questioned the artist's right to create her own work in reaction to them.

"Personal creativity as such is of no particular value," wrote Gehring. 

I do not know Mr. Gehring and do not intend to hurt or injure the man in any way. In some sense, his commentary on the icon exhibit is an admirable and passionate and, yes, a very personal expression of religious belief. Still, I suddenly find myself in the unenviable position of having to defend art from our own art critic.

First, it's a strange battle. "Icons in Transformation" has been exhibited in cathedrals across the world. It's been called "dramatic" and "must-see," but never has drawn any criticism. Perhaps that's because the intent of the show is celebretory, and not critical or controversial.

Or because most oppose the idea that certain art forms belong exclusively to certain groups. Yes, there is the danger of exploitation of certain art forms -- Gehring brought up the example of Hopi Kachinas in a Facebook comment -- but that's a danger of a large and predatory culture threatening to extinguish a minority group and tradition. But forbidding an artist from incorporating any influence or idea in an act of personal expression is...well...reactionary. And anti-art.

Art is an inherent act of personal self expression. It challenges institutions of religion, government, and social norms. It is regenative.

"It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, “invisibly”, inside us," wrote the poet, Rainer Marie Rilke. To Rilke, the task of the artist is to dive down into the depths of being and resurface with some beautiful and incomplete scrap of personal communication with the world.

"Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism," wrote Rilke. "Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them."

Any commentary on art, then, should start and end with love for the attempt.
 

[Editors note - Read Luke Gehring's review here. Also, read the Very Rev. John Paul Downey's reaction to Luke's review here. Then, let us know what you think by clicking here!]
 

Erie Reader: Vol. 4, No. 25
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

It's been a big day in world news, folks. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for another massive terrorist attack, Cuban cigars are about to become legal, and your holiday plans to see "The Interview" are getting spoiled. All that and more, in case you missed it.

The Republican field begins to take shape for 2016. When will we learn from our mistakes. 

The Senate confirms a surgeon general and lots, lots, of judges. 

The United Way and Home Team of Erie County host a memorial event for homeless in our region. 

Congress passed a spending bill, but at what cost?

IN THIS ISSUE

The Presque Isle Partnership is hosting Polar Fest on Sunday, Dec. 14, a winter version of Discover Presque Isle, if you will, featuring indoor and outdoor activities related to the winter season.

Music fans were in for a treat this past November when a long list of those loquacious lyricists showed off their musical chops at 814 Grinders: Hip-hop Pt. 1. The event was so good, in fact, that it will be getting a sequel Friday, Dec. 12 at The Beer Mug.

Wayward Tattoo Studio presents Arc Angels Toy Drive

PACA presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)

The Lake Erie Ballet will continue its holiday tradition this year with four productions of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre this December, including a pair of special events. 

Pittsburgh indie rockers return to Erie's Basement Transmissions.

The Station Dinner Theatre will celebrate its 25th Anniversary Holiday Musical event with Christmas Memories: A Christmas Carol

Martinis and blues go together just like peas and carrots. Confused? Read on.

Michigan-bred 'mericana badasses return to Erie Saturday, Dec. 19.

ECO showcases both new and old holiday music with its upcoming show.