Rob Bailey: What is art?

Published 12:12 pm Monday, August 7, 2017

I recall more than one Americus-Sumter County Arts Council (ASCAC) board meeting where the discussion about whether the creation of a particular piece was an art or a craft. For example, is basket-weaving an art or craft? And likewise, is ceramics an art or craft? Such debates are important but may best belong taking place in a salon (not the hair cutting place). Similarly, during my undergraduate studies I took a course entitled The Philosophy of Art. During the opening class the professor stated that for the entire semester “we will attempt to define what art is.” He then boldly added that “we will not be able to accomplish the task.”
Although, as mentioned in the previous column, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; likewise, art may be purely subjective. The joy of art and its celebration is unlimited. Too many of us, if not all of us, participation in art occurs daily. We tap our foot to the radio, we gawk at photos or paintings on walls, on the Internet, on television. We may notice the font or color choices of the advertisements that bombard us daily.
We travel, more so in the summer, to see places and enjoy their beauty. This summer I was able to visit the Grand Canyon with my family and drop my jaw at beautiful scenery. Such wonders are pure art from the world. And a great deal of art, as well as science, is merely emulation of what nature provides for us.
Some simply consider art as those fields falling under the five categories of fine arts: Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and poetry. Another category of art is the performing arts which includes theater and dance. Additionally, fine arts may be extended to include film, photography, design, printmaking, and other video related fields.
The classic distinction between arts and crafts centered upon the use of the hands. Carpentry and ceramics traditionally are considered crafts. For the most part, the delineation of types of arts and crafts is a game of semantics. I find as much beauty in ceramics, blown glass, and carving as I do in classical music, paintings, film, or a play. Appreciation is not limited to what one confronts at the gallery, playhouse, or concert hall.
I am truly hoping that everyone has an art outlet. In our community, there are many citizens who instruct in various forms of art. Beyond colleges offering art appreciation and art classes, at the ASCAC Arts Center there are classes offered. Additionally, some locals offer painting lessons, guitar lessons, piano lessons, classes in glass-blowing, ceramics, and other arts. We are fortunate, we are abundant in our county.
Recall that a few paragraphs back I mentioned architecture as fine art. So, if you have not ever driven around town and looked at the buildings, please do so. If you have not driven around some of the streets leading from town and looked at the houses, please do so. There are a number of gorgeous homes to admire.
Art can be seen from several viewpoints. I prefer to see art as any creation we can admire. I know that is a rather broad definition, but in a world with 7.5 billion people there are many forms of art and many people who admire so many types. I think it fits equals art is any creation we can admire. Maybe it is too liberal, but I like it.
ASCAC update
The ASCAC has been busy this summer. We held our Summer Art Camp at the ASCAC Arts Center at 326 W. Forsyth during June. There were 18 students from age 6 through 14. The week-long program included bead making, drawing, painting, sculpture, rock painting, mask-making, and weaving. Summer Art Camp culminated in an exhibition of all the students had created, attended by the young artists and their parents.
During July Cate Bailey, the ASCAC board secretary, and I were graciously invited to speak at an Americus Kiwanis Club meeting at GSW. Besides enjoying a wonderful meal, we were warmly received and addressed those in attendance for about 30 minutes. I spoke about the importance of art and how art is what remains in our world after nations, businesses, and cultures come and go. Consider the statues of ancient Greece. They are still admired even though the great culture is not in existence. Cate then spoke about the various activities the ASCAC produces throughout the year.
As we move into the fall of 2017 we begin our TAP (Teen Art Program) which takes place Tuesday evenings at the Arts Center. In October, there will be pumpkin carving again! Finally, to end out the year our annual Empty Bowls event will take place supporting both the ASCAC and Harvest of Hope Food Pantry.
Feel free to stop by the Arts Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays. And, as always, please join the ASCAC.

Rob Bailey is president, Americus-Sumter County Arts Council.