Saturday, August 16, 2014

When you find your art twin, you are not glad to see each other.

Up to now, my posts have focused on art of others, but this one is about both mine and others...

For awhile now, I have been thinking about the importance of The Artist's Vocabulary: those symbols, colors, stylistic motifs and touches that come together to make our unique styles as artists. My friend and frequent art show comrade, Joseph Brzoska, is a great example of an artist who has developed such a recognizable style with familiar elements that are as good as a signature. When I think of Joe's paintings, I think of quizzical deer, skulls of all types, pirate ships, dainty little girls walking tightropes, circus rings, barren landscapes----

Wait, did I say circus rings? Yes, but I also paint circus rings, or at least I used to. And now here is Joe, big as life, sneaking into my subconscious and yanking out MY CIRCUS IMAGERY!!! He can't do that!

   Except, he can. Joe is free to have similar ideas, to paint them better or worse, to paint them every day or once in awhile, and there is nothing I can do about it. Understand, I am not talking about copying, or stealing, but the shared vision that comes from being humans. Sometimes we all think the same things are neat (remember my bird silhouette rant?) And we are all right in thinking so. In this case, I had pretty much abandoned the circus subject after a brief flirtation, and Joe's wonderful circus paintings satisfy my love for the subject better than mine ever could, I believe. But I did have a glitch recently, where I lost a competition to an artist who is working in a style and subject so similar to mine that it really was too close to home...
 After researching her work, which I had never seen before, I determined that it is not really that much like mine, but all of what she says about her reasons for making the work are frighteningly familiar. I am an artist because I want to make original things. I certainly don't want to make something that appears to be a knockoff of another artist's idea. This is a hard moment for me, which I am going to push through, because I think that is all I can do.  My initial reaction was a little over the top. As artists, we have to remember that we don't create in a vacuum, even though the studio confines can make it seem that way. We are influenced and we are influencing others all the time, and we send our work out far and wide to do just that.

    For the next two weeks, you can see the enchanting circus world that Joe creates on the right as you enter the Open Eye Cafe, and more of his other works around the room. My Medicine Horse series is on the left. As you look at Joe's work online you can see how he has made a cohesive body of related works with technique and a simple vocabulary that is uniquely his own.

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