Right now, what matters seems significant. SIGNIFICANT. And what people are moved to create likely reflects that feeling. That what is put out must resonate. Matter.
This is what I’m getting when I peruse the art journals. All are trying to be WITH the news. To be on course.
I just happen to pick up a book on Ellsworth Kelly. Reading about his life is not at all what I expected. For one thing, he served in World War 2, but in a special division called the Ghost Army. The job of the Ghost Army was to create fake scenes – sets that included vehicles and armaments that looked real – to fool and distract the Germans. What he was learning was – what you see – or think you see. And don’t see. Yes. The eye and the brain.
And this led later into noticing. Noticing small objects: a thrown away dixie cup, smashed on the sidewalk, or shadows and reflections seen as form… In other words, his art was about what he noticed. Not about what MATTERED.
As I recall, he was not alone in that era. I remember being baffled by that attention to the non-essential at first. Until, one day, I was sitting outside the public library in Brookline, waiting for a ride. It was – yes – a random moment. Nothing was pressing. I was just waiting.
And then, out of nowhere, I shifted focus and started to notice all these details in the environment around me. How a leaf moved. The certain tick-tack of someone’s walk. A small piece of paper barely moving in the slight wind caused by a car going by. All these small nothing. Suddenly vivid to me.
Now, here it is years later and I still recall the clarity of that moment.
I’m doing some preliminary work on pieces I plan to create this fall and winter. When it’s easier to work indoors. So, I’m going outdoors to draw.
Just, what do I notice: putting pencil to paper.