Inner Outsider: The Necessity of Art (Part V)


But what of imagination? When the completion of a thing, a work, a compulsion burned out in form from within into the world, made manifest for the world to see, a spell descends.


It is said that humans are the inventors of the animal world—the king of kings. Crows and ravens make objects of beauty, juxtaposing our discard with stolen and indigenous artifacts. It’s as if there is not enough art in nature for these black birds. We, no less than the crow, must also continue to integrate, overcome and pacify our environment. We do it with art. That is why we object to broken windows, discarded people—anything that reminds us that we are not in charge. Disorder corrupts the notion of control. We like our boxes neat. The first thing that is denied the poor is art, cut out like a vital organ, and grafted into the institutions of the affluent.


Bouguereau: A Girl Defending Herself against Eros (The Getty)

But give us a song, a poem, a wall or a canvas, and in that opening we will pour our souls, in blood or colors, out as if we could pay our fare in creation. The great artists of our time and before have known this. They have not kowtowed to the influence of means, driven by the force within, the powerful Beast that must be silenced if the earth will continue to spin on her great axis. This can be said of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Michael Jackson, Vincent van Gogh, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sohei Nishino, Frida Kahlo, Marguerite Duras, Leo Tolstoy, Ai Weiwei, YSL, Nina Simone, Ingrid Bergman, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Misty Copeland, Alvin Ailey, …truly, there is no room in this essay to name them all. When we awaken to this reality, it is easy to see that art drives civilization forward. It is the fuel and the engine; the fire and the wood.



Of course, I may be wrong.

Enlightened Objects: The Necessity of Art (Part IV)


Lavish or sumptuous, grotesque or fearsome, our creations exist side by side with all else.

Art defies norms and invents them. Art sculpts us into de-centered objects—eyes that register; bodies that undo. In our hands, art is the uncontrollable daemon, willing us to bend and succumb to the subconscious. There is Si Lewen attempting to remove his own hand or Vincent van Gogh dismembering himself because he cannot rendezvous with his siren, Art herself.

Art is in our blood. Denied, Art demands blood.


Jeff Kunkel’s paintbrush tin


We could argue that when the first caveman dipped his palm into crushed flowers and marked the cave wall, his inner Beast must have stood back to take in the scene, momentarily pacified by simplicity of the act. Saying nothing, yet standing with total attention, the Beast within glanced repeatedly at the marks dancing in the light of the fire, and later, the sunrise, observing the flickering of light on the print, playing in the oblique luminescence. The primal Beast took note, also, that now that the mark was a daily presence, a thing of contemplation, an object of nuance in its unchanging state, they should come to be friends. Thus, the first art lay siege to a soul, conquering the interior Beast and the imagination in one stroke—all with a lone handprint on the wall.