When I finally accept and respect the potential in all things to be elegant, then I see beauty.
I find myself in a country that I don’t recognize. It’s much uglier than I remember.
I’m knee-deep in an America that seems hell-bent on (at best) ignoring and (at worst) destroying all that is beautiful. Truth is negotiable, a child’s life is less valuable than a handgun, the environment is monetized, women are chattel and isolation is a goal. These are not ideals that inspire. These are not pretty times.
So I’ve decided it’s time to find beauty … even when it’s almost hidden by all the noise surrounding it. I’ve decided to try and see if I can’t catch a glimmer of beauty out of the corner of my eye.
The Accidental Artist. That’s what this series of images is about. It’s about people who make things that become art … regardless of the makers’ intentions. Though nature may have been a collaborating artist it’s important to me that a human hand is central to the creation of each piece.
In the end, what I’m most intrigued by is this disconnected artists’ collective that unwittingly contributes to the creation of something beautiful.
Accidental Artists don’t necessarily know that they are creating art. They undoubtedly never met their associate artists. It’s unlikely that they even saw the final work of art.
I guess I’m a partner in this process as well. I’m the witness. The scribe. The guy who appreciates all the artists’ hard work and records it. I hold it up for folks to see and suddenly we’re all in the same room experiencing a tiny moment of beauty amidst a chaos of ugly intentions.
I’m always drawn to abstraction in art: A single line, a shape, a combination of colors that urge me to develop an emotional connection with the artist’s intention for a moment . Though many (most) of my images have quite recognizable elements, the juxtaposition of them, their accidental relationships, brings a fun level of abstraction to my eye. Though each composition visually references its tangible elements, I hope that we are more involved with the lines and colors that they produce.
Since I began The Accidental Artists series a strange thing has started happening to me. I’m seeing pretty things everywhere. And most of them are just sitting out in plain sight in the middle of some really trashed out backgrounds. I have to wonder why I never noticed them before. Then I think, “You know, it’s because I didn’t need to see them before.”
As I was alluding to earlier, the shit-show in Washington right now has really pushed me toward some sort of primal need to make sense out of squalor. I have to remind myself that, regardless of a political mandate to narrow my vision, myopia is not a good thing. More than ever I want/need to expand my view of what is beautiful … not diminish it.
So, now I can’t stop.
So then, I got to thinking, “Are these just pictures of dirt and junk?” The answer is yes, but as Cheech and Chong might say, “It’s really good junk, man. ” And this particular junk has a tremendous abstract effect on me.
I admire two distinct aspects of these works:
1) The hours of human labor that went into the designing and building of the functional pieces that are then re-formed by years of being subjected to the elements.
2) The wonderfully accidental abstraction that occurs when taken out of context and when the content is framed as just an arrangement of colors and forms.
Having said all that, it occurs to me that it’s really all about me. What I see. No, what I choose to see. If I open my eyes to expanded possibilities of what’s beautiful, then it’s everywhere. If I look for form and line and color then I’m rewarded with art.
In looking at these Accidental Artists’ work I realize that I’m only seeing what’s at my feet. Why is that, I wonder? Am I really so depressed by the world at the moment that I’m actually unable to lift my head? I doubt it. Do I have my head in the sand? Don’t know. But, if I do then there’s an easy solution … LOOK UP!
Will you look at that, the Accidental Artists are exhibiting everywhere. Actually, I didn’t look up from the ground this quickly. Baby steps. First my eyes crept up in degrees toward the horizon …
… Then I chanced a glance up higher (keeping within the safe visual confines of a wall) …
… And then said screw it and went all the way.
As it turns out, the Accidental Gallery is filled with incredible works by all kinds of Accidental Artists. It’s everywhere and I’m like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide what to chronicle first. Things can be breathtaking when I can let go of preconceived ideas of what is and what isn’t art. Everything begins to mesh into a gorgeous collage when I can become more inclusive and less arbitrarily judgmental.
The razor wire was evidently a hit with me because I took a load of pictures of it in various states.
Signage allows the Accidental Artist to communicate not only with line and color but with specific intent as reflected in the words they choose to include in a piece. Once again, their intention was probably to write for their purpose not ours. But, as I’ve discussed, the Accidental Artist really has very little say in the final piece. However, we the viewers are given the opportunity for yet another level of interpretation.
I find that I’m also drawn to the Accidental Artist who chooses an interesting perspective and/or point of view as a mode of abstraction.
But in the end the art that I love is back in the realm of true abstraction- Art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. And the Accidental Artists are brilliant at that.
As I look at all these pictures I think that maybe what I’m doing is just taking pictures of street art. I guess I am. Literally. Street Art. Not to be confused with Street Art . For that you need to check out these sites that are loaded with really, really cool Street Art.
Those artists aren’t in the least accidental.
Being aware of the art produced by the Accidental Artist has opened up some doors for me. I love wandering around with a camera and just allowing the beauty I’m surrounded by seep into my psyche. Maybe it has something to say, maybe not. Worse case scenario it gives me a few minutes vacation from the Ugly spewing out from Mar-a-Lago.
It’s possible that all I’m doing is still-life photography. Nothing very earth-shattering about that, right? But, whatever it is, I really do enjoy it. Heck, I may just go indoors and see what’s up with that. Radical.
As always, I’d love to hear from you with any thoughts this blog may have sparked. As a matter of fact, I’d like to see images of any Accidental Artists work you’ve come across! Send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll publish it.