“Art is not a part of our culture”

“Art is not a part of our culture like it is around the rest of the world,” observed my office-mate, a man who lived overseas for 16 years, as we talked about the Makoto Fujimura show. “We spend money and time on ‘entertainment’ instead.”

Yes, film and television — a significant part of entertainment — is considered by many to be a part of the arts. But it’s not the same. Film is temporary; it doesn’t stick to the walls or grace the foyer of an office building permanently.

Art in America is largely relegated to museums (or the homes of very wealthy collectors). Certain new building projects do allocate a small percentage of their budgets to new art (if I recall correctly, federal projects are required to allocate a whopping 1% for this), but how often do most of us walk into these buildings? Where is the sculpture in our public spaces? Where are original paintings if not in our homes and offices? It seems to me most of us have artistic friends whose work we can decorate our homes with — probably even more than a couple of these friends, giving us some styles to choose from. And even if you don’t, finding local artists isn’t rocket science.

The U.S. is a very efficient country. A college friend from Cali, Columbia pointed out to me how “industrial” American English is in comparison to his native Spanish. Have we in America engineered out of our society most things besides the practical? (Not to say that art is entirely impractical, although I believe most Americans think this; I am using the connotative understanding of “practical.”)

God clearly endorses beautiful things in the Bible. What would happen if people began buying originals instead of prints? I asked for the price of a work in the Mako show last week, a small piece about six by nine inches. The gallery coordinator informed me it was a $1,500 piece. This is very near what I expected; I hadn’t actually picked a number.

Most people, even without knowing the actual time and money that went into the painting, would think this quite expensive. If more people bought originals, I’m guessing the prices would come down.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

3 Responses to “Art is not a part of our culture”

  1. David says:

    Movies,digital arts,bloggs all seem so fleeting and brief as forms of art.
    It makes me wonder what premise our culture is evolving on. Transitory art for transitory people. Art use to be quite still, but now it seems to inhabit strange corners and cracks, appearing and disappearing at will.
    Maybe like Schaeffers comments in ‘The God who is there’ we have a lower line of despair to cross. We have barely understood the video generation, let alone the Internet, and now the Blogg universe.
    Much information and Art tumbling from the skies transversing the world. It’s seems at times, like a wild ride hinting at apocalypse.
    Maybe, I bloggerate.

  2. nQ says:

    Interesting blog, its different – I like it.
    I just posted about body “art” if you wanna check
    It out to give your opinion 😉

  3. Steve Scott says:

    “Art is not a part of our culture like it is around the rest of the world,”

    This is true, and it is also true that most of the Christians (and presumably most of the Christian artists) live in that `rest of the world’

    Is there much(any) thought to what we can learn about aesthetic difference,plurality and cultural diversity from what most of the Christian artists are doing today?

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