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what is art?(story)

updated thu 9 aug 01


mel jacobson on wed 8 aug 01

always the big question...can it be answered..? so many
have tried...and still...eludes us. often more than not.

here goes what i told kids:

since the beginning of time, way back when, in the olden days before
your grandma...people have made images, they have drawn things
and decorated things. drawings on caves of bison and things...sometimes
even people. when people made the first pots, they made drawings on
them, bison and things, bugs, sometimes people. olden days people
made things that did not have purpose, they made them because they
were pretty. often they made images because they did not
understand, it was like religion. they made it up, and then drew
pictures to explain it. the unknown.

people have always decorated, made images, tried to explain
things without words or letters. stories, ideas, beauty were all
explained in non verbal ways. it is a part of the human condition.

some people did it better than others, had a sincere interest in doing
that sort of idea gathering and picture making. they even made
images out of sticks and stones, mud, cloth. some people even
sang and danced, made noises on strings and drums. still, they
did it to convey stories and ideas. some got very good at it.

people loved and worshipped the story teller. some were very
good at it.

that ability to make images, dance, tell stories, has stayed with
people, in fact, we are not very different from those old time fact, we are those old time people. we do the
same things. we gather in groups, exchange ideas, get close
together, have babies, make our lives better, improve, move

when old time people made the first containers of clay it changed
their lives. they could store water, move beyond the river or lake.
explore. when old time people could store food and water they
could travel a long way in boats. why did they decorate the bottles
and containers, why did they paint on their boats? it was natural
to do these things. decorate, make images, build things. some
got to be very good at it. it started a genetic change in humans...
some became and did art. we call them `different, strange, funny
people`. they could do things others would only long to be
able to do. they sang better, danced better, did story telling better.
they were artists. they had to do the things they did. they could
not help themselves.

nowadays we get to see on television, the very best in the world at making
images, dance, song, story telling. it makes our attempts look really
silly and bad. we think we are no good. hit ourselves in the face,
say bad things about ourselves. `i ain't a pretty and talented like
brittany spears, i am not as good as picasso or van gogh, i can't
play the violin like stravinsky. it is hard to say, `if i keep on trying
and doing
perhaps i will get good one day at making images. practice, does it work?`

in the olden days, before your grandma, we lived in small groups..each
group had people that told stories, played the violin or piano, or made
good pictures. we only had to aspire within the small group, now
our group is really big, makes aspiring harder. but, some folks
do not care how big the group is, they just get after it. make stuff.

now we have fancy people that tell us if we are good or bad at
doing art. they are talking heads that write for books an magazines.
they run museums. they tell us what to think. we have to tell
those people to go to hell. stick it. they are the `concept art` types.
great thoughts, only they often say things like `don't do silly things like
make clay pots and put
images on them. that is craft, it is dopey.` fancy people
have college degrees and have big ideas. they are the important idea
makers. bullshit.

be like the old time people before your grandma. they knew. do
art because you love doing it, you have to do it for yourself.
you can be an artist. it takes time and experience. we belong to a
great long line of people that did stuff, made stuff. we cannot
help ourselves, and that makes me smile. it is my favorite group.
Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
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