Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art = Life

The last discussion presented art as a vehicle for revolution and change, as the channel through which the people make their voices heard. Rather than letting some bureaucracy-obeying art world sycophant churn out an offensively predictable Top 10 artists list that’s supposed to, somehow, tell you what he thinks you should like… Who and what do you want to see gain more exposure? What kind of art or which artists represent you? (To keep things organized, discuss over here.)

And now for this week’s discussion: I interviewed artist Martin Bernstein for Sixty Inches From Center, and here are some gems from our conversation (and good advice to boot):

Photo by Andrew Roddewig, 2011.

On art:

Art is a consciousness. [...] It’s a way of life. It’s a way of looking at every single nanosecond of every day.

On great art:

Great art isn’t something that gives you all the answers; it’s a starting point for you to then question. [...] You’re always learning. You always have to push towards something you don’t know.

On the value of traveling:

The road taught me: open your eyes right now, because what you are seeing or doing or thinking is gone, and now there’s a new “right now,” and that’s gone, and now there’s a new “right now,” and you keep moving through… Well that’s life. And it’s right now.

On not only knowing yourself, being yourself, and sticking to it…

Principle is all you’ve got in the end, and so you really have to find the basic code of how you want to live, and all your work and all the things you say and do should fit that perfectly. [...] Especially as an artist and they are constantly telling you no. [...] We look outside of ourselves to define ourselves when we [are young]. It’s kind of a parabolic curve of life to me, and somewhere in the middle when we get to our 30s, we start to go, “Wait a minute. It’s not them. It’s me.” You start to realize that you sort of colored in the all the surrounding areas, and now it’s time to fill in this figure that’s sort of the shadow. You start to fill it in.

…but also having faith in yourself:

 I just trust that I’m on the right path, that I’m doing the right thing at the right time, and if I don’t feel that, I’m willing to turn around on a dime.

More wisdom here.

For many of us, art was our first [and only—shhhh] love. To ask an artist if she could do without creating is like asking someone if she could do without breathing, or if she could log in to Facebook and log out within five minutes (it’s impossible). This question applies to everyone, artists and collectors and art appreciators alike: When did you first fall in love with art? When did you know you wanted it to be a part of—no—to be your life?


  1. From the moment I very first picked up a brush the need to create has never went away.

  2. I loved the illustrations in the storybooks my mother read to me as a very little kid and began drawing way before starting kindergarten. It was never an option to do or be anything else.

  3. Upon exiting the womb.

    I looked around me, saw a warm and wet world painted in red and pink, and said "YEAH! Gimme more!"

  4. Love all these answers so far! "It was never an option to do or be anything else." Yes.

  5. Hi Jenny, Loved the question and your blog. As I sort of fell into being an artist quite by accident and thought perhaps you may be interested to see how. Anyway here is a link to 36. HOW IT ALL BEGAN New blog today 6.8.10 Dancing asparagus, mmm it helps for an artist to be a little bit crazy................. This blog is for those of you who share my slightly quirky sense of humour, likes to find out what makes an Artist tick and where the inspiration comes from. Have a great weekend. Love Marie xxx

  6. My passion for art started from birth. I've heard my parents say, "Barbra was born with a crayon in her hand." Over the decades the crayon has turned into experimenting with other mediums. Now I mostly use pen & ink to create my eclectic drawings.


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