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Friday, September 08, 2017

Art that says life matters

See this and more photographs of Juliette Aristides
at The Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier post
about a 2012 workshop with the artist.
This year, the affliction of perpetual curiosity has sent me to podcasts related to the return to classical realism (or whatever you wish to call it) in painting. Perhaps because I have a lot of friends who are painters, perhaps because I'm always aware of the parallel of "art renewal" to the return of forms, meter, and rhyme in poetry, perhaps because seeing paintings has often felt like experience to me, I have been fascinated by people groping their way out of the mainstream, well-supported world of Koons and Emin and Hirst and into the rich world of Titian and Rembrandt and Caravaggio. I like many of the podcasts--they're often, at least in part, coming-of-age stories, and those always have an in-built structure that appeals--but one of them stands out to me. 

I'm recommending Juliette Aristides' conversation with hosts Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff at Suggested Donation. The chat might be fruitful for you--it's thoughtful, graceful in places (surprising in a podcast), clear on the collision between what's lasting and the technological transformation of the world, exploratory and metaphysical in its aims, and wonderfully deep-diving (to borrow Melville's word for the profound when it's captured in a net of words.)

Who is Juliette Aristides? "Juliette Aristides is a Seattle based painter who seeks to understand and convey the human spirit through art. Aristides is the founder and instructor of the Classical Atelier at the Gage Academy of Fine Art in Seattle, WA.  Juliette teaches workshops both nationally and internationally. Author of Classical Drawing Atelier, Classical Painting Atelier, Lessons in Classical Drawing, and Lessons in Classical Painting, published by Watson-Guptill, NY."

* * *
Eventually I'll post a list of my favorite podcasts / videos about painters and visual artists. I try to listen to one every time I walk the treadmill, and that grows more frequent once winter comes to Cooperstown....


  1. Thanks for sending your readers to that podcast. It starts off a bit slow and insidery, but it turns into a conversation of great interest and comfort to artists, writers, and musicians.

    I have real hope in what these sorts of artists are accomplishing. Whenever I explore the world of working artists--as opposed to artists getting blockbuster museum shows with corporate sponsorship--I'm still pleasantly surprised to find most of them relying on craft and training in ancient traditions. At the new-ish open-studio area in Asheville last month, I think we encountered only one artist who was lost in pure abstraction. The artists I see prospering through actual sales, whether in the Smoky Mountains or on the back roads of Maryland, usual appeal to a real public appetite for beauty, craft, skill, and/or narrative. (I've noticed too that painters with a sense of humor sell prints like crazy.) I buy the works of such artists--prints much of the time, originals on occasion--and I'm heartened to see it all around me in our home. Working artists could change public perceptions entirely if the high-end art world weren't still working to discredit their profession with headline-grabbing gimmicks and stunts.

    1. I've found some other art podcasts that are interesting and will post about them later.... You know, so long as we have outrageous prices for mainstream art (odd, but what's awkwardly called "un-skilled" art is mainstream now and has been a long time), they will always grab those headlines, even without "gimmicks and stunts." Jonathan Swift would have a love-hate relation to the art world....

    2. Properly quibbled-with, I have dropped it! XD

  2. I don't come here to quibble despite the fact that my elder daughter called me The Quibbler for several years. I saw it as a professional compliment. But isn't seeing an experience anyway? Or are there underlying meanings for both nouns which my brief brush with formal education failed to reveal?

    And why does the phrase "lover of the arts" worry me? Perhaps because it seems to imply that the arts are lovable and I might - if I weren't minutes away from Saturday lunch - dispute that. Is the phrase "bad art" - assuming it is legitimate or even exists - something covered by "the arts" and might it too be regarded as lovable. Or am I into sugar deficit?

    1. Haha, the Quibbler!

      No, I don't think seeing is necessarily an experience--a great many people float through their days without being fully awake. Thoreau said most people are sleepers, and every now and then one wakes and sits up. In fact, don't we all know what that means in our own lives? Don't certain events and certain encounters with art wake us up, make us more fully alive? Henry James talks about suddenly waking up to a painting in a museum (hmm--can't remember, think someone drops something breakable and, startled, the viewer wakes up to form and jewel colors.) We all know what it means to sleepwalk and not see fully. But maybe you're always ready to see and tilt with life! All that singing and quibbling!

      Yes, "lover of the arts" is lazy. I'll think about it. "Loveable" (which I did not use) certainly suggests something softer than I mean.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.