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Can the masses appreciate good art?

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My meeting with a distinguished Jewish artist goes sour


Can the masses appreciate good art? photo

That’s the way it is, he sighs, and grins at his ability to profit off the stupidity and ignorance of others.

He’s happy with the money, he told me so himself, through our translator who herself is a partially broken artist; broken down and beaten into reluctantly accepting the status quo, the way nature must be.

The masses cannot appreciate, don’t appreciate good art, they explain to me, and they laugh at the way they con them with colors and shapes, how the public gobbles up his artwork only because they don’t know any better.

Yet, I know the truth is that everyone responds in their hearts to good art, true art, even if they don’t know why. They will glance wistfully at it, years from now, long after an artist’s passing, tears welling up inexplicably, at the beauty their soul is responding to, coming home.

But his stuff is so fleeting. Entertains in an instant, yet leaves the viewer absolutely the same as before they came, maybe even a little worse off, if that is possible. He thinks it doesn’t come through in his art that he doesn’t care about it, but it does. I don’t want to tell him this because I feel bad that he has exchanged his soul for obedience to capitalism and he tries to instruct me that this breaking of spirit is necessary, and did him well.

He is miserable about his life choices, and yet (or probably because of that miserability, that miser ability), he tries to convince me to do the same. To have company down at the bottom. I shake my head. No can do.

Recipients, art aficionados the world over, beware. Art (and truth) may or may not be brought into the world because of you, the viewer. Which is a huge responsibility.

Respect yourself enough to take your art, your purchases, your tastes, seriously. Know that what you like and what you buy directly impacts what beautiful art (and therefore, truth) may or may not be brought into the world. Demand good art, and glorify those who are defiant enough to believe and to speak.

The artists, they are listening to you, they are watching you, because they are afraid. Afraid of not being liked, afraid of being poor. Who can blame them? And so, to explain themselves, they languish in their studios and hate themselves for selling themselves short (for selling you short), waving their hands and acting as if they are doing a service to the public, to the masses, who unfortunately are stupid and cannot appreciate good art, who can be fooled and satisfied by bright colors and overdone clichés. Who can be told what is beautiful.

It’s not true, but fear builds a vicious cycle, and unless the artist can look up at the sky and believe that what is true needs to be said, and that he/she will be rewarded by the Ultimate Creator for his/her efforts, until then, it will be the recipient in one room and the artists in another, one crying, one laughing.

The power to live in one honest, vibrant world lies in your hands.

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