The Connection Between the Artist and the Art Lovers Community
The fact that some people go through life experiencing art through nothing more than the finger-paintings and stick-figure drawings displayed on their refrigerators brings to mind the Biblical prophet’s lament, “You have eyes, but cannot see.” However, in spite of this lowly medium, one cannot deny that emotions and some level of appreciation stirred in the minds of the familial viewers of these adolescent refrigerator artists.
Those visual art creations, however primitive, conveyed a powerful message largely due to an existing relationship between the artist and the viewer. This pre-existing relationship ironically helps illustrate a common gift of true artists, which is the ability to stir emotions; evoke meaning and insight; or create realization for their audience without the benefit of a pre-existing relationship.
Musician-poet, Bob Dylan, described that specific artistic ability in a song verse about the poetic work of an unnamed 15th century Italian poet as he wrote, “And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burning coals, pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul-.” Dylan effectively related here what most art lovers, whether they indulge in music, poetry, sculpture, or paintings, experience when they feel a real connection between themselves and the artist.
Those who appreciate the visual arts may also possess a rare gift when compared to some other art aficionados. For instance, poetry lovers claim that their preferred artists, specifically poets, are able to create emotion and realization using very few, well-chosen, words as compared to the more lengthy works of prose such as novels and short stories. However, those in the visual arts community experience a similar level of understanding or insight from the works of their artists, specifically painters and sketchers, who use no words at all.
In art, there is no right or wrong, nor better or worse, when it comes to the specific art medium. There is only connectivity. How the artist and the specific art community connect does not matter. The fact that they do somehow connect is the key to art, and art appreciation.
If connectivity, or the artist-viewer relationship, is crucial to the appreciation of the visual arts, how then can art lovers continue to evolve their insight and appreciation of the works of impressionist painters, or surrealistic artists? The answer depends upon one’s willingness to engage in research and relevant discourse, as access to information in the art community has never been easier than it is today. Books, e-zines, and the artists themselves are accessible via the internet.
Such access to information allows these aficionados to further their broad and specific appreciation of the arts as they learn more about the background, experiences, and emotions of the artists themselves, as well as interesting facts regarding the artist's specific medium or the techniques used to create their works. Novelists and well-known authors have web sites to help educate and communicate with both readers and aspiring authors. Likewise visual artists, such as painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and art photographers also offer online insight, encouragement, and possibly even a rare look into the creative mind of the artist.
The web itself has become another medium for artistic expression as art lovers are able to view works; read about them; and possibly engage artists and others in interactive discourse about specific works or broad categories of art. With such widespread access to art and the art community online, is there a danger that aficionados will stay home, rather than visit galleries and exhibits? Or worse, with instant access to masses of works online, will the art community cease to support new and established artists by purchasing fewer of their works?
Such events are highly unlikely, as the ultimate appreciation of art, or the most intimate connectivity between artist and viewer is experienced in person, either in the peaceful contemplation of works on a gallery wall, or in the joy of owning and displaying a meaningful work from a well-known, or a new and promising, artist. Online access to art, art information, and artists will help the art community understand and appreciate the artists, and their works. And such exposure could enhance the chances of spreading this meaningful experience with those who would otherwise know art only from visits to the refrigerator.