Trying pull myself away from designing mugs and clock faces, so I can do some new writing and make some new paintings… whose images I can put on mugs, clocks, and use for book illustrations. There’s something so fun about making art that you can play with like this. I remember as a kid going to library class and learning about the Dewey Decimal system. There was a distinction made between the categories of Fine Art and Applied Art. The latter was considered less worthy than the former and was accorded less respect because it was made to be used by people in their actual lives.
This bothered me even back then. I loved book illustrations, folk art, and painted furniture. And I loved all the beautiful things made by artisans of different countries and times that I saw in the Philadelphia Art Museum and Penn Museum. Nobody in these museums was saying, “Well, is painting is art, but that painted blanket chest isn’t art.” Or “This sculpture is art, but that painted, beaded, feathered Native American vest is not art.” And if they had, I would have disagreed with them. Ditto if anyone had said, “This mural in Italy is art, and the hex signs on that barn in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania are not art.”
I want art on my wall and I want to drink my coffee in it. To me, both things are equally beautiful, because both things are not things so much as they are expressions of ideas and feelings mingled together that trigger ideas and feelings when seen and/or touched.
We do not decrease the value of a beautiful object by enjoying, appreciating, and using it, but rather add to it. This is why I treasure my father’s ceramic lamp. Sure, I love the workmanship and artistry. But more than that. It was his.