Musings about Art, Artists, and the Common Man

This may bore the heck out of a lot of you, but it stems from conversations I’ve been having with my brother in law, Bret Bailey. I should warn you this is probably going to wander all over the place, and may seem a bit disjointed. That’s what happens when I try to organize my thoughts into something cohesive.

First, I’d like to establish that I’ve had a lot of exposure to people who fit the traditional idea of what constitutes an artist. I don’t consider myself an artist in the traditional sense, but I do consider myself creative. I studied music and piano in college, as well as dabbling in a few art classes.  I have a green thumb, and I’m not shabby in the kitchen. I realize these things may not be considered art, but they do require tapping into creativity. I’m a little hedonistic and love things that appeal to my senses…. taste, sound, shapes, colors, balance, tactile pleasure, etc.

Let me tell you a little about some of the artists in my life. Also, there is something unique about most of them…. they have managed to feed their families pursuing careers in art. Let me assure you, this is a rather difficult accomplishment in the art world. We’ve all heard the term “starving artist”.

Bret, my husband’s identical twin,  is an artist and an art educator. He is very dedicated to helping people explore art, and experience their own creativity.  He was awarded  the Outstanding Art Educator of the Year Award in 2009.  He is a certified Teacher Mentor for Indiana, has an after-school art club,  serves as District 2 representative for AEAI, and is a member of the Lakeland Art Association. This picture is a self portrait he did when he was much younger. I think it makes him look creepy, and I tell him so quite often since he uses it as his Facebook profile picture.

My grandpa, Paul Hubartt, is an artist. He was an illustrator, advertiser, Fluegel cachet artist, and water colorist. My grandpa was trained old school and did a lot of things current day artists don’t seem to pursue much. He was always great at calligraphy and the almost lost art of illumination. When he retired he took up wood carving. What’s really amazing is that he’s in his 90’s and still has a steady hand. Almost all of his peers, friends and family have died, and he’s still able to paint and carve! I should also mention that my grandpa is an author (so is my dad). My grandpa was diagnosed with bone cancer a few weeks ago, and is undergoing chemo. Facing his mortality, he has begun relating a lot of stories about his life. Oh the things I’m learning about Grandpa! The picture below is one I took of my grandpa earlier this summer.

My brother is an artist.  His name is Paul Hubartt too…. named after our grandpa.  He is a pipe carver living in England, and his work is in demand. Outside of pipe carving I’ve seen him experiment with other mediums, and I bet he could easily change direction if he got bored with pipe carving.   Study in Self Reliance is a 7 page article published about my brother as the cover story for the spring 2010 issue of Pipes and Tobacco magazine.  I’m so very proud of my brother.  He has another hidden talent. He can write! I love reading anything he has written. He’s able to bring pictures and ideas alive in my mind, and his writing always leaves me with such an indescribable feeling. Here is what’s really funny about my brother … he doesn’t think of himself as an artist, and he won’t admit he has a talent for writing. I’m still trying to decide if it’s false humility, or if he’s really that oblivious to his own talents. The picture below is my brother with my nephew. I have other pictures  I’d love to show you, but I’m quite sure he’s going to kill me for writing about him, as it is.

I also have two cousins (brothers) who are artists. Our common grandpa is the one I just told you about. Daniel and Andy are new school.

Daniel VonSeggen is a free lance artist, with a degree in Commercial Art and Advertising design as well as Nanotechnology. Nothing like being an over achiever, huh Cuz? Daniel has a collection of his work available for public viewing on his website at VonSeggen.com.  I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me for ripping this picture from Facebook and putting it out there for the world to see.  I love this one because it’s you all grown up, but looking like the little kid that’s forever stuck in my mind.

Andy VonSeggen is an illustrator working for Play, Learn, Think & Feel. Andy describes his specialties as typography, conceptual sketching & brainstorming, pen & ink, digital shop drawings, specification writing, bicycle mechanics & shooting the breeze.  Yeah, I ripped off this picture too.  What are you going to do, disown me? Both of my cousins share my love of good beer, and are avid homebrewers. We grew up in different parts of the country, so there is still a lot I’m learning about these guys.  I heard through the family grapevine that they’re also musicians.

OK, so after all that carrying on about the artists in my family, you get this little teeny tiny rant.  The conversation I had last night with Bret was a rant about how some artists become so esoteric, that the common man can’t relate to them or their art. It drives me flippin’ nuts! I don’t think art is an exclusive club. Isn’t art supposed to be about expression, perception … conveying concepts, ideas, beliefs, what an artist thinks about the world, the human condition, beauty, evil, God? Isn’t art about all of us, taking on innumerable forms, using a world of mediums? Yes, I understand there  is a quality to art that may make it difficult to understand from time to time. But seriously, if an artist goes so far out that he/she completely alienates “normal” people, what’s the point? It’s no wonder some artists starve.

Yes, I know this is a powder keg. I’m probably going to receive a few nasty emails.  I’m OK with receiving nasty email. After all, it is a form of expression. If I can understand it or relate to it, then the author achieved some level of artistry.

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