It was a warm and very pleasant evening here in Bend, and there is a tradition here of having a big party on the first Friday of every month. Every sort of “art” is on display. Visual arts in the many art galleries, clothing arts in the clothing stores, bubble arts by the bubble girls, numerous bands blasting their “music” etc. Being old, the music is offensive, of course, but I love the rest of it. In fact, the visual arts are too tame for me! I like visual arts that make me think and possibly groan out with a WOW.
Not on display here today, but what I can use to give an example of WOW, is in a book I am reading, Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture – The Unborn, Women, and Creation, by Carolyn E. Tate. In this book, there are many artworks pictured that were created by a culture so distant from us, but so human, a culture that created images that are clearly sophisticated and yet so strange that a modern person is wowed. Here is a link to online Olmec Art. Spend a few minutes looking at those reproductions and wonder what kind of people in what kind of world would create these things.
That is what I consider WOW art for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much wow out of our art walk tonight. And yet, if I were to stand back mentally and view our evening walk from the perspective of those 3,000-year-old Olmec people they would probably be WOWed.. Of course, our recent technical stuff would be astonishing, but what would be their response to our visual presentations of what both cultures would think of as meaningful visual art? Stuff that is representative of our mental states and our emotional responses to our worldly environment.
Our Bend art has nothing to compare to the Olmec gigantic stone heads. We have nothing so bizarre as their human/animal creations, we have nothing remotely like the weird fetuses, nothing like their offering of their baby children into the unknown, and no seeming infinite repetition of grimacing faces. How trivial our culture, as represented in our art, might appear to the ancient Olmecs.
It’s time for me to take a warm bath and reminisce about this evening and us.