Friday, January 07, 2005

Art: Ask For an Explanation.

I know that you have seen these PSA's. I have too. They have been on for a while now and there was always something about them that bothered me. I was not, until recently, sure what that was.

Allow me to briefly explain. These ads are produced by an organization called Americans for the Arts. They seem to be some interest group that is funded by the Ad Council, the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and, interestingly, Old Navy (a division of the GAP Corporation). Here is their website, detailing their mission and why you would be an idiot not to support it.

Anyway, these ads alternately feature a little boy or girl, both of which are dressed in drab monotone colors. These kids, in various ads, seem interested in commodity prices and zoning ordinances. They are most certainly not interested in generic pop music, balloon animals, street musicians or playing with the dog. At the end, we are admonished by the disembodied voice of Alec Baldwin that if kids don't get "art," it shows. We should then, at the behest of Mr. Baldwin, give money to this Americans for the Arts (although, could this be indirectly done by shopping at Old Navy?)

As I said, I finally figured out what bothers me about these ads. The problem is twofold. First, so these kids aren't interested in "art" as defined by Americans for the Arts and Alec Baldwin?

They at least HAVE an interest of some kind. So what if your kid doesn't take to music or balloon animals? If he/she is interested in finance or law, encourage that by all means. These people could lead a perfectly steady life as commodity brokers or lawyers and be happy with themselves and happy that their parents nourished their life-long interests.

Secondly, who are these corporate beneficiary pseudo-charity organizations (who also receive grants from federal and state government...note the George W. Bush quote at the top of the web page) to define what "art" is to anyone?

For me, art and music are a lot like religion. They are humankind's response to the transcendent. It is our attempt as human beings to get in touch with deeper meanings, truths and feelings. If "art" is the way that you do this, fine. If you find fulfillment in your job, whatever it may be, so much the better. If you feel no need for "the arts," so be it.

Let's just avoid forcing people's "art" into a mold.
Let it be personal, an expression of the individual connection to the cosmos.

As for Alec Baldwin, I don't see you moving to Canada like you promised.

Alec Baldwin: Ask For More.

No comments: