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artists - and some short digressions amid...

updated wed 27 aug 03


pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on mon 25 aug 03

Hi Alyson and Vince and all...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Vince Pitelka"

> Allyson May wrote:
> "If trained, anyone could become a craftsman

Well Alyson, I think there are some problems here with maybe
the operative notion of what is or is not a Craftsman, or
Craftsmanship, or, in so far as there is more to it than a
mere involvement in some perfunctory 'craft' activity. My
own experience suggests a far larger proportion of people
may be guided or 'trained' to be Artists in the usual sense
of the term, than have any real hope of being Craftsman. And
the demographics seem to bear this out, too...

...'training' may not substitute for, nor bring about the
requisite disposition or affinity, for either Artists or
Craftsman...but I think is more likely in practice to be
benificial to the former ( Artist).

But it gets difficult too to seperate the need of the Artist
for some Craftsmanship, and, the embuement of Art as
dimensionality of Craftsmanship...however, their orientation
and their intentions are different, even if each may in ways
have elements of the other in them.

A respect for and enjoyment of, the 'feel' for what one
does, a knowing as is from the inside 'out' distinguishes
the Craftsman from other perfunctory or novitiate imitative
ot 'trained' involvements. I do not think any amount of
'Training' is as good as an authentic interior sympathy and
desire for the tasks and proceedures and the presence of
mind and of mood to prefer to be involved in them.

Anyone posessing these interior predelictions and affinities
would likely allways have been doing more-or-less
Craftsmanlike things on their own...'training' would not
tend to be appealing or wanted in other than a moments
exposure now and then to other's workings. One abides by
more interior sympathies, and not 'training' or 'teaching'.
At least there is in my mind a distinction as with say
'religion', there is the Vulgar, the Exoteric...and then
there is the Esoteric and Sacred. Big difference, and the di
fference is allways lost on the former, never on the latter.
They are 'centered' in differing modes of being, senibility
and stance.

So too with Art or Craftsmanship...verses what most people
will be satisfied with as Art or

The essence of either Art or Craftsmanship lay IN the
authenticity and qualities of attention and sympathies with
the tasks and Tools and thinkings, none of which are happy
or benifited by someone else's attempts to 'train' someone.
One may be trained unto mundanity and the eclipse OF these
sensibilities, otherwise, if one trust them, and respect
them, one is already 'present' in a way that distinguishes
the pedantic imitator or novice-other-determined, from the

It comes from the inside...or it comes form the
outside...and they are not at all the same.

In the general sense I have of the terms, a 'true' Artist
and a (true) Craftsman are about very different things, and
have elements of eachother in eachother...and the latter
tends to have a great deal more to know about, than the
former, and a great deal more to work with logistically,
and, to be faithful to.

Still... this is general, and specifics may help...

The Mechanics as say were building Steam or Gasolene Engines
at one time, had to know and have facility with a great deal
more things than say did Gougin or Van Gough or many others
whom the world regard unambigously as famous, excellent and
remarkable Artists in Oils and so on...

There is a world of difference between the knowledge and
facility and familiarity and fidelities to make a serious
proper example of Furniture or an Engine than there is to
make what we would regard as Art generally, or as say an Art
sculpture in Wood.

The Artist as sculpts in Wood tends to have an accuring
knowledge and experience in their Craft as through which
they express their Art as Art. And maybe fifty or more
likely several hundred times the knowledge go into making a
proper Chest of Drawers, and many many more Tools and
associated multiplicity of variables of many things.

The Sculpter needing a few Chisels and the how to sharpen
them...some impirical as to grain and dryness and specie

Big big differences in the whole thing...

New Artists are likely plentiful in the culture... 'proper'
Craftsman, almost extinct...

Pretenders...less extinct...and no huge shortage of
them...hackers, patronizers and so on...showmen, cover
stories of 'fine woodworking' and the like...whizz bang

> but not all would be called to
> be artists.

Depends on by whom, too...

Generally Craftsman are not called 'Artists'...nor would
they wish to be, even if no one understands what the hell
they do or why they would bother.

True Craftsman tend to spurn publicity...whilst generally
pretenders of Craftsmanship, and seemingly, most 'Artists'
wish for it...'generally'', it seems...generally want people
to think of them as 'Artists' or to have that
association..all of which seems to me to be about the
'outside-in', rather than the 'inside-out'...

No Cabinetmaker or Mechanic or other earnest practioner,
ever, at an 'Art Opening' or anywhere else, ever upon being
introduced says, "I am a Craftsman!"

Whilst one tends to find plenty of 'Artists' as say so right
away...many of whom have talent...or shall do 'well'...

> Was I wrong in my reasoning?

The whole ethos of the culture is estranged from the
sensibilities of Craftsmanship...whilst "ART" has lots of
recognition and appeal in many ways, mostly, I think,
because they all feel that others value it...rarely because
anyone actually does.

> I still want to be thought of as
> an artist however, I am pleased that people are able to
see the amount of
> time and effort I put into my work."

You should rather be earnest with your relations to your
work and your involvements in it, be true to that, and the
hell with what others 'think'...if they like it, fine, if
they are indifferent, fine, the question as may have some
import...the question as IS the 'import' "who is it

If it is not for you first, then you ( by some definition)
may evade either becomeing either an 'Artist' or a
'Craftsman' in any real way.

You will have satisfied people as know nothing, and as shall
learn even less for their comforts in doing so.

> Allyson -
> I can understand your response to the experience, but to
me it was a
> compliment to call you a craftsman under those
circumstances. I do believe
> strongly that anyone who communicates through visual media
is an artist.
> What else do we have to call someone who communicates
through visual media?
> On the other hand, to be called a craftsman implies that
you practice fine
> craftsmanship, and that is indeed a compliment.

> It is curious that we have
> come to a point where "craftsperson" means anyone who
practices a craft,
> whether it is macrame plant hangers, duck cutouts in
pastel colors, or
> pottery, and whether or not the work is any good at all.


Or appropriate for their level and deapth of perspicuity and
experience and general powers of observation and memory?

Where IN the last several generations is there for most
people to have seen 'Craftmanship'?

'Norm'? On the newyankeeworkshop?



What basis of experience have they upon which, from which to
know anything whatever about it?

All the examples they had they and their families threw away
to the 'dump'...and in it's place bought whatever was

Remember 'dumps' in the '60s and '70s?


Better than the 'Smithsonian'...all day long, AND more

Americans hated Craftsmanship after the 'war'...they wanted
'plastic'...'suburbs'...'jobs'...brassiers like

> But saying that
> someone is a craftsman seems to imply that they produce
very fine work.

It now-a-days means all things to all is an
advertiseing hype for adverts as use the is 'dads
1972 toyota'...

> I wonder how we came to this difference in interpretation?

It is because there is no longer, in our culture, any common
experiential basis to know what Craftsmanship is...or forms
in which to see it as itself.

Otherwise there would be no confusion, whether or not we may
elect some definition of it as fits the bill or
convince those as do not see it or may not tell it from all
the things it is degrees, I suppose, of what it
is or is not...

Seems to me...

Best wishes!


Las Vegas

> Best wishes -
> - Vince
> Vince Pitelka