I was recently part of an artists’ forum sponsored by the United Arts Council of Collier County. (If you are not already a member I suggest you get on it – they are the backbone of the Arts in our area.) The general topic was promoting and marketing art in an uncertain economy. Take a roomful of perfectly happy artists and ask them what their problems/obstacles are, and before your eyes the lightest of hearts can darken into something fairly murky.
One comment that struck me came from a photographer who fretted digital imagery was going to be the death of fine-art photographers. Hmm, this artist ain’t jiggy with that. Quality art, in any medium, will always be just that.
Was it only 150 years ago that the ateliers and bodegas of Paris were filled with anxious artists worried that photography was going to be the artless end of painting? Well, that didn’t happen. But what did happen was painting evolved from rigid representations of reality into soulful interpretations of light and color and 2-dimensional compositions. Think Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh. Think Yippee.
Photography artless? The likes of Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston and Alfred Stieglitz used the technology of the day to create stunning works of art filled with evocative visual narratives and uncommon perspectives. Painting survived.
Put today’s technology into the hands of a true artist and the results can beawe-inspiring. Innovative manipulation of intelligent design will always separate the artist from the shutterbug who runs a snapshot through a Photoshop filter. Excellence will stand the test of time…and technology. For me, nothing can replace the sheer poetry of brushstrokes on canvas. No lens nor shutter will replicate the deliberate placement of pigment next to pigment to create what a painter feels.
When I stand in front of a photograph by Joel Gewirtz, who not only eschews all digital manipulation but won’t even crop an image – seriously, what he sees through the lens is what you get – I am inspired to expand the way I look at things.
Now put a camera and a keyboard in the hands of Jim Freeman and prepare to be gobsmacked as boundaries break, realities shift, and that little place inside you gets tickled crazy. Quality is quality is quality. The end.
Jim Freeman’s photographs are available at Blue Mangrove Gallery, Town Center,Marco Island.
A book of Joel Gewirtz’s photographs is available at the Gallery Shop at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, 1010 Winterberry Dr., Marco Island.
Info on United Arts Council available at www.uaccollier.com
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.taraogallery.com.