Where Does Art Happen?

The image above depicts synapses firing. As all human thought is electrical in nature, tiny sparks between nerve clusters carry our brain’s orders to the rest of our body and communicate within our minds. I know this is simple high school level biology and the textbooks go into a lot more detail, but what does that mean for art?

Have you ever looked at a noted painting, or read a famous book and thought to yourself, “Whoever thought this crap was any good?” Well, folks, so have I. The great film masterpiece Citizen Cain bored the hell out of me, the art of Hieronymous Bosh never impressed me, and don’t get me started on The Good Earth by Peral S. Buck. However, I absolutely love the movie Hale Ceasar, Think Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbs to be a work of genius, and can go on and on about Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. SO what’s going on here?

My theory is that art does not happen in the studio. Whatever the medium, be it writing, painting, or whatever, the studio is simply not where the action is. True, the artist creates in the studio (or at the writer’s desk), but art doesn’t actually happen there. No, it happens when the art meats the audience and that electric connection happens.

Art, therefore, can not exist in a sterile box. The great unpublished novel that the frustrated writer shoves into a box and shows no one will never become art. Only when the spark jumps from the page to the reader is art created. Perhaps there is an audience for every artist, and I certainly would like to think so. But if that is the case, some audiences are definitely smaller than others. Tastes vary widely and that is as it should be. As an audience member, I’ve often struggled to find art that thrilled me. And as an artist, I’ve struggled to find a large audience to appreciate my work.

But I’ve also been told by many that they felt joy at reading my work, even when writing it was a toil to me. If that’s the case, I can smile and rest assured, confident that I have accomplished my mission. I have created art.

By Clayton J. Callahan

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