Representational Art & Modern Art

I read an article about the intersection of writing fiction and visual art. In that article the author (a visual artist) talks about “representative” art. I had never heard that term before as I don’t have much of an education about the various schools of art. Good representative art has both plot and emotional arc. The plot is contained in the picture itself and the emotion in the brush strokes. I’m not sophisticated enough in the language of art to understand the “brush strokes,” but it’s clear to me that the paintings he chose to illustrate his point brought forth an emotional response. He showed some paintings by famous artists from that school and I realized that this is the kind of art that speaks to me. I can see stories in this type of art.

Both of the pictures below are examples of representational art. I can see (or make up, let’s say) a story from each of these paintings. There are people; there is movement, setting – both a plot and emotional arc are visible. I may make up a different story than the artist intended, but there’s clearly something going on in both of these.

The West Wind, 1891, Winslow Homer. Credit: Wikimedia

The West Wind, 1891, Winslow Homer. Credit: Wikimedia



El Jaleo, 1882, John Singer Sargent. Credit: Wikimedia

In contrast, I see no stories in modern art. The vast majority of the time it has to be explained to me. Perhaps I just don’t look closely enough, or I’m not smart enough (the latter is what I feel the really snobby art experts believe). Either way, I don’t like it. Modern art may have pleasing colors or designs that convey an emotion, but they rarely if ever present a compelling plot. And a lot of modern art doesn’t even convey an emotion to me.

I see no story in the picture below. I don’t get an emotional arc either. I think it’s a cool picture; it would look dramatic in my entryway, but it is not of the same quality as the two earlier examples.


Wassily Kandinsky, On White II, 1923 “Kandinsky White” – Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

So, I vote for more representational art in our world!

Opportunity for Poets

Poetry is so easy. Just take a regular, run-of-the-mill announcement, get out your Thesaurus to substitute obscure words for common words, throw in a couple of nonsensical references to ancient gods, throw in arbitrary line breaks – and you have a poem! I don’t get why it takes you guys so long.

The Kane County
will feature original
verse in the Purlieous segment
of their esteemed
every third Friday
of the month!
Be as the goddess
Athena. Scribes are
encouraged to tender
their own, original
for consideration to
Not unlike the Sword of Damocles,
you must include your full
numerical representation of
your dwelling’s location
and phone number
to be
for publication.
You can also hand-deliver
or snail-mail
your poetic tomes,
as Loki might,
to the Kane County Chronicle,
333 N. Randall Road,
St. Charles,
If you
in your submission,
send it
the attention

Moon Pictures

The moon was full tonight and I thought it looked pretty cool rising behind my neighbor’s tree. My little camera isn’t the best for this sort of shot and I was too lazy to get my tripod out, but despite that I thought these pictures turned out OK.

DSCN0384 DSCN0387




On October 3rd I posted some pictures of Bill Pack’s front yard. He puts up a pretty impressive Halloween display. Not to be outdone, I put up a Halloween decoration myself this evening. Bring on the trick-or-treaters!

Brain Pickings

DSCN0419I am continually impressed with Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings site. I also find it such a wonderful story. She just celebrated her ninth anniversary and it still is running strong. I don’t know how she does it.

“On October 23, 2006, Brain Pickings was born as an email to my seven colleagues at one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college. Over the years that followed, the short weekly email became a tiny website updated every Friday, which became a tiny daily publication, which slowly grew, until this homegrown labor of love somehow ended up in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and the seven original recipients somehow became several million readers. How and why this happened continues to mystify and humble me as I go on doing what I have always done: reading, thinking, and writing about enduring ideas that glean some semblance of insight — however small, however esoteric — into what it means to live a meaningful life.”

Read the entire article.

Media Fails Us

I was listening to NPR this morning in the car. The issue being discussed was smaller government. A caller called in and said (I’m paraphrasing, since I could not record it or write it down): “Government can’t do social programs. I contribute to a couple of charities and I can see where my money goes dollar for dollar. Government loses 60 cents of every dollar to overhead.”  Now, where did that little factoid come from? It might be right, but I have no way to know. The host at NPR did not challenge this guy. And that’s where the media fails us, over and over. Sure, there are organizations that check after the fact, but that’s too late – the damage is done. Why don’t reporters challenge these claims immediately? Why do we give the rich and politically powerful a pass on these claims? Why are our news organizations so timid? The question can be asked with respect and politeness – it doesn’t have to be a “gotcha” moment that the politicians complain about, at least in tone. But, as a citizen, I do not mind “gotcha” moments. These people should be held accountable for the claims they make – immediately, not well after the statement. I’m tired of stupid being acceptable and I hope you are too.