Friday, October 7, 2011

Art Prize in Grand Rapids

I am so confused! I know, I know, most of you would agree that I am rather confused about a lot of things but this is different. It's about the "rules" again. Let me explain.

Art: Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter or counteract the work of nature.

I live in the Greater Grand Rapids Michigan area. Grand Rapids is hosting, for the third year an event called "ArtPrize." Hundreds of pieces of Art are displayed throughout the city and even a little beyond. Hundreds of thousands of people are pouring into the area to view the art and vote on their favorite work. There are all kinds: Big, small, colorful, black and white, sculpture, paint, even live all vying for a prize up to $250,000. It's a beautiful thing to behold. The part that is confusing to me is where a number of people are whining about the prize winners. They, it seems are the experts on what "Art" really is instead of the hundreds of thousands of people doing the voting. The winner this year, A mosaic of the Crucifixion in glass is nothing short of spectacular. The so called experts are saying that something is awry when such a magnificent work of art is the winner. What????? They are saying it is too, "normal!" Something tells me they are simply whining because they were caught with their pants down in the world of art. Where is it set in stone that a work of art needs to shock or go against nature or be repugnant to most people who, "don't understand" those art forms.

Many of those same people were in awe of a simple glass of urine with a crucifix set in it at another show. No days weeks or months of effort, no imagination or extraordinary thought processes, no intricate coloring or use of shadowing, no fine detail to provoke or inspire or even to be just plain fun to look at. However, it fell within their strictly defined idea of art. That, to me is ignorant.

Art, taken by it's definition can be almost anything. Be it repugnant or touching, irrelevant or inspiring, funny or sad, thought provoking or mindless. I don't understand anyone who professes to know all about what art is restricting it to only what they deem as worthy. Every art piece in this years ArtPrize is worthy for heavens sake. This year a very popular special piece won. I hope the organizers never back down from their goal of bringing fine art to the public in such a terrific way. I wonder truthfully if any of those so called experts actually voted or did they find it more satisfying or attention getting just sitting back and crying foul? I have a challenge for them: Create what you believe to be a finer work of art than any of the ones that won and put it in next years competition. Or, is it just too easy to blame stuff on the rest of us being too vulgar to really get it?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Economy cars, saving on fuel

All the powers that be maintain a continuous flow of beratement for driving vehicles that get poor fuel mileage. Then they create laws that are almost unattainable requiring manufacturers to build transportation with unbelievable miles per gallon. We are bombarded with accusations of being insensitive to environmental damage the burning of fossil fuels brings about. We are ridiculed for driving gas hogs. Yet, among the best selling vehicles every year are pickup trucks and SUV's. Why do we insist on driving these things in spite of the fuel costs? Because................they look good and we don't feel like doofeses driving them to and from anywhere.

Apparently there is some mind set that environmentally friendly, fuel efficient vehicles have to be ugly. The majority of us simply don't want to be caught driving an ugly car or truck. And another thing, who says those economy cars have to be painted in such putrid colors? Yuck! Puce? Forest purple? Come on now! What do they use, a mixture of left over paint from the trucks and SUV's? I test drove a small economy model the other day: My head continuously touched the ceiling, my knees continuously touched the door and center console blocking the shift lever, the steering wheel rubbed against my stomach.(No, it's not that big, I've lost weight you know.) I even had to divert my eyes from looking at the car while getting in because it was so ugly and I didn't want to stare.

There are, of course some real cool looking electric cars. But, naturally they cost tens of thousands of dollars at the very least and that is because so many of our tax dollars are used to bring the cost down so even the rich will buy them. When it comes to the majority of us working folk we are given the option of either a gas guzzler or a car we have to park three blocks away because we are so ashamed of the appearance. I ask you now, where are the forward looking designers and engineers when we need them?

I propose that: somewhere there is a Henry Ford quality type entrepreneur who can put together a team to design and build a decent looking, reasonably sized, with an aesthetically pleasing color combination, environmentally friendly economical vehicle that is actually affordable and carries people and things at speeds faster than a mo-ped. And, I also believe it can be built right here in the good old U.S of A. Make it easier on the eyes and they will buy. That's what I think.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Press on regardless. Secret of life

It really doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have, we are all at the whim of something far beyond our imagination. We can hide ourselves in caves like hermits, save up every penny we earn, buy gold and hoard it, eat a limited diet, pack away two years of food in a bomb shelter, wear air filtering masks, drink only special water from bottles, avoid other people, jog 10 miles a day, never touch dirt, visit the doctor over every little thing, practice Yoga or some other meditational method, get every disease preventing inoculation available, drink one glass of red wine, two cups of coffee and take a hundred vitamins and unexplainable issues still happen to us. That's life!

Most of us carry on every day, doing our best to protect ourselves in healthy ways both physically and financially as well as spiritually, it's the smart thing to do, but stuff still happens doesn't it? In the past I had a habit of collecting and hoarding pencils and pens. When I was in the second grade my teacher took away a handful of pencils I had in my desk and never gave them back. The school rule was "only one pencil to a student." The next day my pencil broke and I didn't have time to get another one, sharpen it and finish my assignment. I was devastated! After that I used to keep an extra one in my shoe just in case. As I grew older I always made sure I had a box of pencils stashed away ready to handle any crisis whatsoever concerning pencils. I kept that box near me in a special place for years and years. During the writing of my book, "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" my habit was to write down any sudden thoughts and type them later. One day a thought occurred to me and my pencil broke. I searched and searched for my special stash of pencils but to no avail. I had put it in such a safe place even I couldn't find it. A strange thing happened, I didn't panic, I wasn't devastated and the world didn't come to an end. I had lost my fear of things I couldn't control. I had grown up and learned to handle them as they presented themselves.

It is always prudent to prepare for emergencies but maybe it's just as important to be prepared to deal with whatever life sets upon us that we can't control and keep going anyway. Pressing on regardless. One step at a time.
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