It’s Not About What You Like

I wouldn’t say I like Miles Davis’ music…not yet, anyhow. Today I am listening to his, “The Birth of the Cool”, not because I like it, but because I have the opportunity to hear it. Hearing in general is a privilege, after all, and listening to music happens to be something human beings can do while working on other things. Music is one of the more convenient artforms to experience in the world.

There are so many conversations that seem to hover around the first question, “do you like it?”. I need to remind myself and others that there’s a vast playground of ideas beyond the question of liking something.

I remember a story about how Gertrude Stein told Picasso that his portrait of her didn’t look like her, and he replied simply, “it will”. I think if we can set aside what we like in the moment, investing and investigating time and energy…something of a transformation can happen. It might not fit your current tastes, but it might…or maybe “it will”.

Similar to wine, sushi, or Eastern Orthodox church services, I’ll probably like some aspect of Miles Davis as I learn to APPRECIATE Miles Davis.

Are you willing to appreciate things you claim you don’t like?

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Artist of the Week: Ellen Altfest, Painter

Altfest’s work gives the viewer a chance to appreciate and stare in awe at an otherwise obtuse if not drab vignette. Her work gives incredible meaning to her subjects, whether a cactus, a tumbleweed, a torso, or a pile of gourds. If the medium is the message, then perhaps the painstaking act of looking–observing with joy and curiousity–is what makes these paintings so singular.

Ellen Altfest, "Head and Plant", 2009-2010, 10 x 11 in. (25.4 x 27.9 cm), Oil on canvas, Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

Ellen Altfest, “Head and Plant”, 2009-2010, 10 x 11 in. (25.4 x 27.9 cm), Oil on canvas, Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

Gourds (2006-07), oil on canvas, 48.3 x 96.5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Bill Orcutt, New York. Image courtesy White Cube © Ellen Altfest / White Cube.

Ellen Altfest, Gourds (2006-07), oil on canvas, 48.3 x 96.5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Bill Orcutt, New York. Image courtesy White Cube © Ellen Altfest / White Cube.

Ellen Altfest

Ellen Altfest, “Tumbleweed”, 42 x 52 inches, Oil on canvas, 2005

Ellen Altfest

Ellen Altfest, Torso (2011), oil on canvas, 26 x 35.2 cm, ONE2 Collection, USA. Image courtesy White Cube © Ellen Altfest / White Cube.

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February 11, 2016 Uncategorized