The phrase “to experience art” has its origins in the teachings of John Dewey. He wrote that art could evoke simultaneous intellectual and emotional responses—art is not “seen” like an object on the street, but “felt” and “told.”
In September 1987—frustrated by lengthy negotiations over the preservation of a 17-mile cluster of remarkably conscientious Native American rock paintings on the site of a potential housing development—a wealthy landowner started up his forklift, removed a petroglyph-marked boulder, loaded it into the back of his pickup truck and dumped it onto the Albuquerque courthouse steps—spitting in the face of 7,000 years of spiritual history.
The human body contains infinite configurations, compositions and possibilities for reframing and re-examination. In photographer Matthew Chase-Daniel’s new book Body, it becomes the canvas for organically abstracted and dizzyingly decontextualized images, leaving us anxious for reference points.
Local artist Jordan West reminded me of the John Donne poem containing “No man is an island” on my visit last week to West’s Second Street studio. We’d been talking about the difference between working in isolation and in a group.
The outsider artist closest to my heart is Leonard Knight. Formerly a mechanic in the US armed services with no artistic training or experience, Knight has spent the last 30 years or so building and maintaining a 150-foot-tall installation in Niland, Calif., on the banks of the Salton Sea. He calls it Salvation Mountain; you may recognize it from the films Into the Wild and Bombay Beach.
Media Hive organizer Jason Goodyear says that, though the first three or four Hives will alternate between open and facilitated sessions, he hopes for the monthly get-togethers to sustain themselves. Each month, a performance follows the workshop, pulling from that very event or the previous ones.