An art form is first a seed, a germ.
No… less than that: an idea, a concept, a vision, a fleeting inspiration.
Invisible, yet tangible.
Where did it come from… the artist himself?
Or is the artist a depository for something of great value to its creator?
Please note the distinction in that statement, that is: ‘artist’, as separate from ‘creator’. Most people would think of the two in the same breath. I do not. I believe it is the artist’s job is to enable others to visualize things from a different perspective. In my lifetime of involvement with creativity I have concluded that though the product of one’s artistic talent may be impressive, the origins of any artistic endeavor remain something of miraculous nature.
Experiencing creativity is not exclusive to professionals in formal art endeavors… ask any financial advisor! The uniqueness of each new recipe pulled out of the fired imagination of an inspired chef is another example of this premise. The produce manager in your local supermarket draws upon an artistic sense to arrange his displays attractively. Any woman or man who has been intimately involved with the birth process will verify this fact. A clinical psychologist may explain his theory of The Intuitive, a Christian artist testify to the existence of ‘divine’ inspiration. One thing is true: sooner or later those who take their artistic inclinations seriously witness the wonderment of creativity. Indeed, creativity in its purest form humbles the greatest ego.
Be that as it may, there is another aspect of the creative process to consider. Though each piece of art developed by this miracle of evolution from mere thought to tangible form is unique, there exists a basic common need: each must be carefully nurtured. Though seldom realized by the casual observer, this nurturing is of vital consideration. Proper patronage provides the nurturing necessary to produce fine art.
Creativity is like birth. Just as it takes both a man and a woman to create a child, so it takes both artist and patron to produce art. In the process of creativity, the artist is ‘mother’, the patron is ‘father’. A healthy, well-rounded child and good art are both the happy result of a union of efforts. Ideally both parents are involved and contribute their multi-faceted vitality to the grace and character of their child as they share in the process of birth and raise it through the formative years in mutual respect for the greater mystery of creation. This is the little known pleasure of true patronage.
My sculpture studio has been the incubation unit for many an ‘egg’ until it has become mature enough to establish its own complete identity. As a professional artist I have birthed many ideas, often the more extraordinary arising from this sort of ‘marriage’ developed with a patron. In joining efforts we have experienced the intimacy of conception, nurtured that seed of inspiration from its birth to completed art form, and shared the unique joy of releasing it out into the world to proclaim its own unique message. Without the support of my patron this would not have been possible.
Every day artists of many persuasions, with a full range of motives, dedicate themselves to producing new commercial and fine arts for the marketplace. They exercise their talents for our enlightenment, pleasure, entertainment and a huge variety of communication purposes, both simple and noble. All businesses use art to produce their products inform their buyers. The Department of Public Works uses art to direct traffic. Even for The Divine to make its presence known on earth it must use ‘earthly’ vessels. In the words of a local physician who understands the nature of creativity in his profession, it requires three equally important disciplines: philosophy (a belief system), science (technical expertise) and art (the imagination). Of course, we all know there is more to the business of art than spiritual expression. Ultimately it is practical needs of both artist and patron which bring them together.
Yes, creative professionals must derive a living from using their talents. And down through the ages, respect for this need brought our present art heritage into existence. When a patron joins his particular vision directly to the artist’s, lending the strength of his support to the act of creation, a special relationship results. This relationship is part of the creative process and why I encourage recognition of, and respect for, its importance to both artist and patron. In every culture there are those who realize the exceptionally rewarding experience of true patronage through active participation.
Believe it or not, commissioning a piece of art can be as exciting as an extreme sport. Though not all artists are available or open to commission possibilities, most of our art history has been produced under such circumstances. For those who answer the call to rise above the ‘commonness’ of daily living and follow the urge to get involved on a less than surface level with the arts, there is certain fulfillment. It can be one of the most personal pleasures one can experience.
There is no university degree held by those who simply appreciate and enjoy art. To become more deeply involved no special qualifications are required. You don’t need any experience, just the desire to be a bit more intimate with something we are all surrounded with every day of our lives in one form or another. Whether it involves improving a drab garden, redecorating an office, or just taking a new look at life around you, it is an artistic act. I’m not suggesting we need more decorative dribble, tax write-offs, or art that has been aborted too early so that it comes to a public place as a grotesque, untitled mass.
What innocent new art ‘children’ will be born before this age is put to bed? Will they be nurtured by corporate commission, or by private individuals (perhaps yourself?) who are willing to have their efforts go down in history? It is a well-known fact that classic art lives long beyond its childhood. Once it is released from its nursery (the artist’s studio) and accepted into society in mature form, art takes care of itself. Just as a child properly nurtured will succeed, so will sensible art expression. This kind will eclipse all other of its generation, for its message will have a positive effect on those who view it and become a valuable link in the records of humankind.
We don’t need art that is the product of negligent parents. We need timeless, dignified fine art that has evolved through patience, love and joy… toil, sweat and pain…art born of wisdom and courageous dedication. The rest should receive a decent burial.
I believe that for future art ‘children’ to be born healthy and without bias, potential patrons need to come out of our technological, industrial wilderness and become involved on a practical down-to-earth level. We need patrons to hold the artist accountable for his work, and artists to take responsibility for the integrity of their vision. In this way we will have some quality control!
The challenge to each individual is this:
Consider the nature of the legacy we will leave our successors, the needs of our present society, and the way to get personally involved. Then take whatever leap of faith is necessary to help create good art in our time.
Remember: Without patronage, the artist starves…
and without the arts, the soul of society suffers.
As for myself, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have trusted my talents.
Bonnie Catherine Veblen
© 2001 / 1263 words
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