Things I’ve Noticed 1: Art

I’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog.  I will share things I’ve noticed.  I see little things here and there, and wonder about them.  I thought about starting a different blog to house these thoughts, but how many blogs does one guy really need?!  Here’s he first in the series:

I was in San Francisco a few months ago, and I noticed some things about art.  I was in a beautiful high-end art gallery near Ghirardelli Square.  The salesperson took quite a bit of time with me and walked me through several art pieces.  Reproductions of the art in question were selling for $60,000 and $70,000.  This was an enjoyable experience.

After visiting the gallery, I stopped to watch a street artist one block down from these same galleries.  She was dirty, a bit rude, and looked destitute.  She asked if she could draw a picture of me for a dollar.  I declined, but ended up giving her a dollar after she chided me for taking a picture of her.

It took me a few minutes of reflection to notice that she was engaging in the same creative process as the artists whose work was on sale 300 feet away: making art for sale.

This made me wonder about the value of art.  It it only display that makes a piece of art valuable?  Is it availability?  I realized as I handed her the crisp dollar bill that I was paying with a piece of art: a portrait of George Washington, that’s available to anyone willing to provide a dollar of value in exchange.  I briefly considered the possibility that the George Washington portrait pointed to availability driving value, but I realized that the street artist in front of me was willing to provide me with an original for a very small amount of money.

I realized instead that the value of art comes from context.  The salesperson in the gallery was willing to learn about my taste and sell me on the story of the pieces of art I was considering.  The person on the street was not cognizant of the source of her art’s value.  If she was, she would be able to charge me for the application of her talent.

Paul Buxman and the role of disappointment

I spent some time with Paul Buxman today.  He’s a friend of mine, and also a really talented artist.  We check in at least once a year, when he brings in the year’s crop of paintings for me to photograph and archive.

Paul’s paintings tell stories on more than one level.  Visually, each painting tells a story about a slowly fading agrarian way of life in California’s beautiful central valley.  But taken collectively, they tell a story about the artist.

When I see Paul’s entire collection from a year, I see changes.

Paul used more red paint this year.  When I asked him about it, he told me that this year he discovered red, and brought it out from the back of his paint-box.  I also noticed more purity in the colors he chose, and he confirmed that he spent less time mixing colors this year.  I also noticed some different kinds of composition creeping into his work, and more diversity in the nature of his subjects.  His paintings this year feel a touch more realistic, and also a little more wild; a little less controlled.  All these facets of his art make me wonder about Paul’s life, and the events that shaped the artist this year.  So I asked.

Paul told me that this has been the best year of his life.  When I asked why, he started listing off events and feelings that seem to me like anything but the ideal year.  But in looking back, he’s been able to see God’s hand in his life and in his family this year.  The struggles he has been through this year have brought his life into sharper relief.  They’ve brought out the reds.

I’m challenged.  I’m challenged to accept the hard things in life as a gift from God; as his tool for molding me into the shape He wants for me.  I’m challenged to try putting myself into places that seem less safe.  I’m challenged to work harder, as if I’m working on things that benefit someone else instead of me.  I’m challenged to let God show me where to find the red paint.

Reedley Fiesta Art Show entry

Hi, Shinnfans,

It’s time for another game of ‘Shinnfans choose something really important for me.’  No, I’m not turning over naming rights for our next baby.  Instead, I’d like to solicit your opinion on an art piece I plan to enter in the Reedley Fiesta Art Show Oct 11.  I have one piece picked out, and it’s a piece I refuse to put online.  I’ll only show it in person.  But I’m allowed two submissions, and I’d like to have YOU take a look at my alternatives and vote for your favorite.  Here are the rules:

  • Leave a comment on this post with your vote

That’s the only rule.  Feel free to discuss the relative merits of the pieces and explain your choice.  I’ll take it all into account.



My desire to be an artist

Recently, my heart has been tugged. It’s as if the Holy Spirit, called by some the Hound of Heaven, has been on my trail. He’s been giving me a desire that, at some points in my life, would have shocked me. It’s a desire to be an artist who impacts the world for Christ. I want very much for my art to communicate meaningful things and touch people’s hearts.

WHETHER I’m even an artist is a matter of serious debate, at least in my own mind. I know I create things, and I know know to execute a few techniques. But I feel an artist should have something visual to say, the ability to say it, and an audience of some kind. Thus far I’ve taken a few pictures, only one of which has achieved any significant audience or visibility. And that picture doesn’t say anything too profound. It’s just a cheese-ball crowd-pleaser. I’m not even sure that photography is my medium; lately I’ve been wanting to paint (though I don’t really know anything about painting or where to start).

But that desire is there, and it hasn’t gone away. I pray that whatever the medium and whichever the way, I’ll be obedient to God and create things which reflect his image brightly and compel people toward Him. Pray that for me, please.