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My artful thoughts

So What’s In a Name?

I have a very easy last name – it is easy to say and to spell – yet somehow in this technological age of word counts, search algorithms, and limited letters, my name is causing problems for me. Here is the situation: my last name is Share, as in share and share alike, not as in Sonny and Cher. Share is pretty easy, right? Okay, some people may mispronounce it, giving it a more elevated or foreign sounding affectation. The bottom line is the name is simple – Share.

So what is the problem? Well for starters, on any social media platform, when you are ready to finalize your image, thoughts, response, or post, you hit “Share.” Simple – this works well for everyone, but for me it is problematic.

As an artist, I, of course want to share my artwork with other artists, collectors, galleries, and museums, in essence the art-loving world. Share my work, share me – but can you find me?

I am a member artist of some large online art galleries – Saatchiart.com is one of them. If you search for my work, under Joani Share, the spinning algorithms searches the data base and often comes up with over 6,000 works of art to “share,” and I certainly am not the first one. I can also put in my first name, Joani, and then I come up, somewhere in the vast list of Joan’s, Joanie’s, Joanne’s and then maybe Joani. Yikes! But, Joani Share is another story!

I have brought my specific problem to the attention of some techno-wizards at the online galleries, but alas, they have not been able to remedy my particular problem. They say that a collector is not searching for a particular artist; they are mostly looking for a title or an image. Maybe that is true, but if someone has seen work by an artist and wants to find it again, the most logical way would be to search the site by the artist’s name, correct? And again, this works for most people, but the circle continues for me – the word share, which is indeed my last name, causes the wheels to turn and the shuffle to begin. I am lost in that spinning algorithm.

There are many artists out there who have, at one time or another, been told to change what they do. I guess that I am the first artist that has basically been told to change my name! Oh no, my Sharé, a problem n’est–ce pas?

Art and Nature

There is something very special about the placement of art, primarily sculpture, as it is incorporated into a natural setting. There is a difference between “plop art,” art that is placed outdoors but not really integrated into the setting, and art that is placed to enhance and become part of the environment.

Over the years I have visited many sculpture parks and have marveled at the size and vastness of the collections. In New York, Storm King stands out as large-scale sculpture is dotted through vast areas, some blended into the scenery like the very long stone wall created by Andy Goldsworthy, others out in plain sight standing alone like the work by Marc di Suvero.

In my newly adopted home area there are a couple of places that come to mind that utilize large-scale art in different ways to enhance the grounds. At Di Rosa, a gallery sculpture garden in Napa, a number of large-scale art pieces are dotting the rolling hills and valleys of its property. The sculpture is somewhat “plop art” – it has just been placed – viewed from a distance the art becomes part of the land, not just a decorative element.

A couple of miles away from Di Rosa is Cornerstone, a little square of boutique shops and restaurants and now home to Sunset Magazine’s demonstration kitchen and garden. In this space, art and nature are purposely coupled to enhance the senses. The strategic placement of art forms are blended in with flowers and plants as an example of what can be done with a little creativity.

There are chicken wire and webbing forms that look like huge rain clouds which are raised above a cactus garden and serve the dual function of art, and places for birds to build nests. Not far from these metal “puffs,” are large brightly painted birdhouses that offer other alternatives for winged creatures. On the ground is a grid of rainbow pinwheels turning in unison; they are monitoring the microclimate of a small space as it receives gusts of wind in various sections.

I love walking and viewing nature in its pristine state. As an artist, I am always intrigued to see what others do to incorporate human creativity with nature’s beauty. I highly recommend finding a place in your area that enhances nature with a sprinkling of art.

Never on a Sunday

The concept of blockbuster exhibitions started in the 1970’s with the Tutankhamen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This show brought in tens of thousands of visitors, many of whom may not have been to a museum since childhood, if at all. Exhibitions of this type bring revenue to a museum in numerous ways: special admission fee in addition to entry fee, gift shop sales, and the potential of annual membership to the museum itself.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of the blockbuster art exhibition. When I go to a museum I want to see the art. I want to be able to stand back and look at a painting from a distance, or move up close to view the techniques used to create the piece. Blockbuster exhibits are meant to draw crowds, and crowds make viewing art almost impossible.

Many people who attend these art exhibitions opt for the headphone and audio guide to get a perspective or insight into the work as presented by an art historian or curator. Viewing the art with people plugged into headsets is equivalent to bumper car rides at an amusement park, move forward, and move back and surely you will bump into someone in an art-viewing lane. I don’t purchase the audio guides, I prefer to look at the art through my own eyes, not through the eyes and story of someone else. I do read the descriptions on the wall since these are usually related to the technical aspect of the work, the time period, or something specific to the actual piece. I am not as interested in the “backstory” when I am trying to actually view the art. If I want more information, I’ll read about the art or artist at a later date.

Summer seems to be the time when many blockbuster art exhibitions take place (travelers like to look at art), so there will be many shows on the horizon. I have learned the hard way that viewing a blockbuster exhibition near the end of its run or on a weekend is the worst time to view these shows. I suggest that if you really want to see a blockbuster exhibition, try to go midweek, or early in the day, but know what you’re getting yourself into. There’s also good art to see in the museum galleries without the blockbuster exhibit, and probably a lot less people as well.

Are You My “Peeps?”

I am in the process of getting my art out there… to sell on the global stage. As I navigate through social media, I have been told to find my “peeps” – they will be the ones to buy my art and spread the word. So who are these followers, my peeps, and the ones that will enjoy my artwork? My mentors say to imagine them – what kind of car they would drive, where would they live (house, condo, apartment), income level, and to be even more specific. I am supposed to close my eyes and imagine my perfect buyer, collector. I don’t think like that, I don’t categorize people – it isn’t something that I do or feel comfortable doing. Is there only one “type” of person who would like my art?

So, that brings me back to the question – who are the people who would love to have a piece or two of mine in their homes? I have sold my art to individuals and businesses; none of them are alike as far as I know. The common thread is, they like my art.

Maybe I need to analyze my work a little – it is abstract, figurative, colorful, and purposefully ambiguous. “Characters” in my paintings are often not explicit as to gender, race, color, ethnicity, etc. Rather, my paintings encourage the viewers to make these determinations for themselves. I cut, collage, and manipulate materials to create the imagery. My surfaces are layered with paper, acrylics, and mixed media allowing for a richness of design and composition.

Can you think of one specific demographic that would buy my artwork? I suppose I can rule out those who love landscapes and florals, but is this a demographic? I will make an assumption that those who enjoy contemporary and abstract art are a demographic that my work fits within – but what about age, gender, nationality, and race of potential buyers? I don’t create my work with a buyer in mind, I create my art because I have to – it is a calling, and my imagery is something that has been evolving, and it just flows from my mind to hand to surface. I may be naïve, but think that my art can fit into lots of environments and look great in places where people of all backgrounds live, work, or visit.

As a reader of my blog, you can help me spread the word – become one of my “peep-pushers.” View my social media presence and share it with your friends and family. And if you have any idea who my ideal collector is, and where I should look for them, please let me know. I will be so grateful. Here is my info:

Website: www.joanishare.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joanisharefineart/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joani.share/

If you have an idea, please leave a comment to this post, or contact me at joani.share@gmail.com. Thanks

A Museum Experience

Recently I took a road trip to Southern California with the intent of visiting the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles. I had read about, and was really interested to see the new Broad Collection. I had been told that even though this new museum is free, the best way to guarantee entry is through reservations. I am so glad that I reserved a time slot; people without reservations who waited in line to get into the museum seemed to wait hours with the mere chance of entry.

The Broad Museum is a new museum on Grand Avenue, next to the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, and across the street from MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) – this is quite the triad of interesting buildings within walking distance of each other.

The Broad Museum is different than most other museums in some special ways. First, the museum is free, not just on one day or one evening, it is always free. Next, with many contemporary museums, the architecture often fights with the art for dominance, however in this space the art and architecture are extremely compatible.

The Broad is definitely a contemporary structure. From the street view it appears to be a floating box with a large honeycomb façade. Once inside the Broad you can take an escalator that rises through a long narrow tunnel and you arrive on the third level where there are a number of open gallery rooms that are lit with natural light. (I was sent to the third floor because the first floor was closed due to an art installation, and the second floor infinity room had a two-hour wait, which I registered for, but ultimately did not attend). The third floor space has high ceilings with tilted honeycomb-formed windows, each with a shade that is technologically manipulated to allow the correct amount of viewing light in each gallery, yet controlled to not damage the art work. It is pretty amazing!

Another thing that makes the Broad different from any other museum I have ever visited (and I have been to countless museums around the world) in that it has the best floor staff I have ever encountered, bar none. Floor staff you say, you mean guards? At the Broad there are no guards that are dressed in uniform poised to keep you a solid 18 inches from the art, and never, ever think of moving in slightly more than that! At the Broad, the guards have been replaced with knowledgeable artists, art historians, a comedian here or there, and other people highly trained in art. They are able to articulate information about the work you are seeing in front of you, and relate it to art in other places or time periods. Mind you, these are not docents giving a tour (The Broad has docent-led tours as well), these are the people who watch you viewing the art, and are there to help answer questions, not hush or deter the viewing experience. Oh, and these are paid positions, not volunteers!

The art in the Broad Collection represents Eli and Edythe Broad’s approach to collecting art of their time – it is contemporary post-war art gathered over five decades. The collection contains more than 2,000 pieces, with only 250 on display at any time. The art may have been cutting edge in its time, and now the art is classic contemporary standard.

I am so impressed with the Broad Museum, from admission (free), architecture (fascinating) to art information guides (excellent) – without a doubt this is a museum that really believes that viewing art is an experience that should be savored, enjoyed and appreciated – and I did.

Art Education is Vital


The United States is currently in a time of change, and unrest – socially, politically and intellectually. I think now, more than ever, our public schools are the incubators for the future. Public schools in this country take all children, and educate them to become the bridges that connect the past to the present and innovators for generations to come.

I truly believe the arts must be included in a student’s education and must be considered as academically important as reading, writing, and math. The case for including the arts as a major core subject can be made by analyzing fine arts courses.

The world market requires people to be problem solvers and creative thinkers. The arts, specifically foster creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Students who are taught to play a musical instrument, or dance, or act at a young age develop a high level of focus and discipline through practice and repetition. The rigor it takes to learn to play an instrument is often carried over into other endeavors. Students  who practice musical scales and learn complicated scores, or dance, or act, are typically good students in other academic areas. The study skills that students utilize while pursuing artistic endeavors can easily be adapted to learning other subjects.

Students who are interested in the visual arts are ones that usually “think outside of the box.” The economy today requires people to have a multitude of skills to solve ever-increasing problems dealing with, but not limited to, environmental, health, and social issues. Artists, and art students usually see the world in a different way, thus opening the door for creating a new world. The process an artist goes through in creating art usually involves a great deal of risk-taking as well as trial and error. Similar to a scientist, the artist is always looking for ways to explore uncharted territory. In addition, the visual arts intrinsically include science, math, language and social studies. Art is truly an academic subject.

Education today must be more than just the three R’s. Exploring a multitude of creative outlets that develop the mind as well as the body is essential if we want our students to become citizens of the world.

Rest in “Piece” to the
National Endowment for the Arts

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson established the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), stating, “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Although it is hanging on by a thread, the NEA is still the national arts agency that rewards and fosters the culture and creativity necessary for a healthy democracy. As the Washington Post’s culture critic Philip Kennicott said, “What’s at stake is the very notion of a democratic space in which art, ideas, and information are produced beyond the constraints of commerce.” The National Endowment for the Arts is dying, and after a long slow decline the Trump administration would like to take it off life-support and nail the coffin shut. If this happens, we will be the only major country in the world without a federal arts presence.

In 1985, the historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote, “If history tells us anything, it tells us that the United States, like all other nations, will be measured in the eyes of posterity less by the size of its gross national product and the menace of its military arsenal than by its character and achievement as a civilization. Government cannot create civilization. Its action can at best be marginal to the adventure and mystery of art. But public support reinvigorates the understanding of art as a common participation, a common possession and a common heritage.”

Through an acquired awareness of art, cities have hired artists to make edifices accessible and palatable. Inspired by the NEA, the “percent for art program” has been established in twenty-eight states and requires a percent of a project’s budget to be spent on art. The program invites artists to work with planning commissions to add art to construction projects, which ultimately humanizes the design of buildings, bridges, walkways and facades. This artistic aesthetic makes a city more than just a bunch of concrete blocks. The incorporation of art into our world is not seamless – many factors including budget and people are necessary to make it happen.  Artists like me are able to apply for opportunities to create work that enhances a project; citizens like you can volunteer to serve on planning commissions to decide on the look of construction; and the entire community benefits from this form of collaboration.

Even though the NEA is just a slim shadow of its former self, communities need to embrace the arts and foster it for future generations. The visual and performing arts uplift the spirit, the written word in story or poem expand the mind, and together all of the arts humanize the connections of a diverse nation built on the experiences that bind us together. Art is important – the potential absence of a federal arts agency is a wake up call about the importance of art in our collective lives.

Inspiration

People often ask me, and I will bet all artists get this question: “Where do you get the idea for your painting?” For me, the idea or “subject” for a painting comes from a multitude of sources. Sometimes I just want to explore color, shape, and texture. I may paint the canvas in hues that spark my interest for the moment, and from there I decide on the content of the painting. For a very long time I’ve used the human figure as my subject, but how I actually compose it on the painting surface varies greatly.

Recently I joined my family on a relaxing beach vacation. Seeing the many layers of ocean colors, the beach dotted with people of all shapes and sizes, and clothing of infinite colors and textures, I had images floating in my head. As soon as I returned home, I went to the studio and prepared a painting that was inspired by the beach scene. I knew that I did not want to represent a realistic rendering of the experience, but one that was inspired by sand and saltwater.

Travel often gets my creative juices flowing, but when not exploring beaches, forests, or marketplaces in exciting areas, I need to find other ways to find content for my artwork.

Dreams inspire my thinking, and I often get ideas during the night. This can cause some restless sleeping as I try to figure out the composition in my head. These fragmented thoughts are often reconfigured on paper before I attempt to fill a canvas. In a sense, I am traveling through my mind to find the design that I want to share in a painting.

I swim for exercise, and never count the laps. As I move forward and back in the pool, I get into a Zen-like rhythm and in my mind’s eye I can often see images, shapes, or colors that I want to use in my next composition, or to alter a piece that I am currently working on.

The hardest part about doing art is not creating the art itself. Coming up with the idea, organizing it, and solving the constructive problems is difficult. Figuring out where to start a painting, and when to stop are all part of the process. Step one is always the idea, theme, or concept. Where the idea came from, and what inspired it may be interesting to the viewer, but as an artist, once that is determined the journey to a finished work of art is indeed an interesting ride.

Inspiration is everywhere – it is the spark that ignites the thought process that leads to a finished product. The photographer Paul Strand sums it up best, “The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.”

What is Art?

ärt/

noun: art; plural noun: arts; plural noun: the arts

  1. 1. 
the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Ok, blah, blah blah. So what is art? It is getting harder and harder to tell these days. Works by elephants, painted at various zoos are sold as art – so much for the part of the definition that calls for human creative skill and imagination! I guess for me, art does have to be made by a human being. It doesn’t have to be purposeful or functional, but it can be. I don’t think it needs to be limited to a specific form or structure, but it should answer some of these questions: What is it about? What does it mean? Why was it made? Does it simulate conversation socially, politically or artistically? If you can get some answers to these questions, then to me it is art.

I am moved by art emotionally – I enjoy color, shape, form, and texture. I like engaging in the viewing process. My gut reaction is what will move me and help me to decide for myself if the work is “good” or at least interesting enough to keep me engaged. Going to art exhibitions inspires my own creative process and challenges the way I may look at the world. I enjoy seeing what people are creating. There is an amazing amount of interesting art out there that engages people in new ways.

This brings me to a dilemma that questions my definition of what is art. Recently I have been given some fabulous objects that are exquisite in shape, form, color, texture, and now another dimension – taste. I am talking about some of the most creative items that literally melt in my mouth. I am talking about chocolate, not just any chocolate, but unique artisan chocolate that look like small sculptures – true works of art. If you can eat it – is it art?

Kollar Chocolate – Yountville, California

If it is only supposed to last a short amount of time, and it is photographed before it disappears, is it art? Andy Goldsworthy creates art from nature – he photographs the work he creates before it disappears back into the environment. This is certainly art – everyone says so!

Okay, I am rethinking my answer – maybe the definition of art is really simple – art is that which is created by the artist, and art is that which is experienced in the eye of the beholder.

My head hurts. It’s time to go back to the studio and create art.

A Son of a Migrant from Syria

In 2015, the elusive British graffiti artist, Banksy, created a mural entitled “The Son of a Migrant from Syria.” The mural was located in an encampment near Calais, France where migrants lived as they attempted to enter France. The image depicted the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, as a traveling migrant, and was based on the photo of him taken in 2006 by photographer Albert Watson. Jobs was the biological son of a Syrian migrant, who was adopted a few months after birth by a couple from California, who Jobs considered his parents. This image may infuriate some, inspire others, or may be ignored by many. I believe one of the main purposes of art is to create a dialogue – a visual dialogue – between artist and viewer. Art in very public settings, such as this mural, can serve to create an instant reaction. The artist is making a statement about world conditions or intimate actions which impact others, directly or indirectly. Art makes one think, question, and evaluate our interconnected situations, large and small.

As a teenager growing up in New Jersey I often took the 77 bus into New York City to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). There, in my adolescence, I was captivated by a very famous work of art. Since MOMA, at that time, was much smaller than it is today, I had a true sense of familiarity as I entered the building. I would regularly go up the curved staircase and spend countless hours in the room that then housed the famous Pablo Picasso painting, “Guernica,” which has since been moved back to Madrid. The painting was huge – so many images incorporated into a mass scene of war and suffering. The painting continually mesmerized me with its limited palette of black, white, and blue-gray. It was so much to take in – so many simple forms that overlapped and yet separated. This is a painting of horror that is so absorbing to the mind and soul. It truly makes one think.


Many artists have created art with political imagery – art is essential to the visual experience of the world within which we live. “Guernica” was Picasso’s statement – and as such, it truly symbolized the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words. Art is important to society and I strongly believe (author’s message) it needs to be supported, encouraged, and welcomed. Just like politics, art takes many shapes and forms – embrace them, feel them, and learn from them.

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