What might help you get beyond February with your new year’s resolutions is to create a list with priorities labeled A to D, where C and D represent nothing to sweat over if you don’t get them done. According to Anthony Robbins, if you do three things every day on any of your lists, including C and D, you will eventually reach your goals and be a happy person. That is, of course, if there is no economic meltdown.
For added help, try a little new age motivational thinking by attaching images of your dream home, camp, car, boat, jewelry, spouse, body, friends, children, pets, etc. from the Internet or magazines to your A and B list priorities. Paste these images to a board and place the board on the fridge door or above the dresser. One day, these dreams will magically come true.
However wary you might be of vision boards, wish fulfillment and mystic relationships between imagery and reality, you are no doubt already performing what artists have been hired to do since the stone age; mimesis and generating feelings of plenty.
When photography was invented and the digital revolution added to the ease at which ordinary citizens could obtain imagery, artists were left lurching. It’s no surprise that in order for artists to survive they often became quasi-philosophers and gurus producing pseudo-art, each declaring that their art was superior to the last batch of artists in order to attract wealthy patrons, their lifeblood. This created a phenomenal number of art movements in a short period of time in the 19th and 20th Centuries. For every art movement you’ve heard of there were a hundred others that never made it to the history books.
Today, modern art movements fall under the banner of “Contemporary.” This is a scheme to ensure that contemporary artists are no longer constantly trumping each other with their own brand, essentially invalidating and killing off other movements. When Pablo Picasso died in 1971, there was a collective sigh of relief amongst artists. He alone symbolized the entire modern movement, magnetically sucking art history to his chest. When he entered Intellectual Byzantium, otherwise known as the history books, which is essentially heaven for artists, it was then possible for someone else to be the next great guru. But no one wants to be left out of heaven, so an unconscious collective agreement grew under the banner of “Post-Modernism” and then Contemporary art, to be more egalitarian and inclusive. No one person, or one group, was allowed to be the one great thing. Every artist got the chance to be a somebody if they showed in a gallery and then catalogued.
Unfortunately, this has lead to a permanent stasis, which critics call “Presentism.” Contemporary artists have created a new problem for themselves: desperately trying to be relevant without being too original or so new that you upset other artists and critics whose lifeblood depends upon control. No one movement and certainly no one artist dare take the reigns of art history.
Mind you, I’m talking about the world of big galleries and art magazines. It really doesn’t have to concern you at all, until you get an ugly contemporary art sculpture dropped in your local park. Or a really ugly building dropped in a downtown core. Well, maybe it does concern you.
In any case, in your own home and life, you have become the artist. You won’t be shamed by anyone these days for not owning an original work of art. Even by artists. They understand. Framing is expensive. Original art is expensive. There are more important things you can spend your money on, like the latest flat screen TV and speaker system.
Every time you download a picture, make a video, take a photograph, print a photo and hang pictures on your walls you are being the visual creator. You create your own footprint with the visual imagery you choose.
This includes all those pictures you have of your friends and family, some that you share on Facebook. It’s the posters of places you’ve travelled, the photos of past loved ones, the pictures you have of your kids and pets and previous homes. It’s the pictures of people who inspire you. It’s the teenager’s bedroom with the spaceships and cars and hockey players and sexy girls and/or sexy boys and rock bands and country music stars and… on and on. All of this is mimesis, images reproduced and generated to give you feelings of pleasure and that act as a statement of who you are and what you love.
Repeating images generates feelings of plenty. Multiple images can reinforce the idea that you’re active and alive. Repetition creates a sense of movement. This is why you have more than one photo of a loved one in your home. It explains why we take thousands of unnecessary photographs. It makes you feel comfortable, which explains some people’s strange desire to collect things, including hoarders. You generally feel better when the fridge is full. It keeps death at bay. You certainly feel better if you hang pictures of your family and friends and of places you’ve been and things you’ve done. You can look at your walls and see how full your life has been. It makes death easier to take. Blank walls are too empty and austere.
You are satisfying basic needs once performed by visual artists.
But it’s still nice if you do support local artists. If you want to stand out as someone of taste and status, buying art is the way to go. What artists can do for you is enhance the imagery that you have in your home by making it one of a kind, either as a piece that is characteristic of the artist’s style or a work that you commission where you instruct the artist what to paint or photograph or sculpt. You can better create your own original personal history that speaks more to your character, and adds to the visual world that you see on a daily basis. Photographers can get a better shot than you and visual artists can apply metaphor and allegory and fantasy to anything you like, making what you own truly original.
If the life you lead is as good as it gets and you are happily settled, maybe you don’t need that vision board. Maybe you just need a little enhancement. That’s where the art world can help you out.