Solitude is important for an artist’s work. Alone time allows ideas to flourish. It allows the hard work necessary to bring those ideas tocompletion. Alone in the studio the artist is able to dream, then knuckle dow nto the physically demanding task of bringing the whiff of a concept into thisreality. Like a scientist in his laboratory the artist runs experiments and searches for an alternative way to view reality. Thomas Edison had a plaque mounted that said, “Rules? There are no rules. We’re trying to accomplish something here.”
But there is also a flip-side called “peer review”. Thisis when the scientist’s work is presented to the world of his peers for them todissect, tear apart and put back together. They subject it to analysis in order to determine if it has merit. It is a step artist’soften skip by immediately framing the work and sending it out into the cold,harsh world of the viewing public.
The Impressionists had Café Guerbois, a smoky Paris cafe where they discussed art and theirwork. Manet, Pissaro, Degas, Monet would bring work to the cafe for critiquefrom their peers. Visual ideas were proposed and subjected to peer review. Outof the many conversations of various artists a new type of seeing, a uniquevision of the world emerged. Out of this Impressionism was born.
Gertrude Stein had her Saturday evening salons. Matisse, Picasso,Braque and Rousseau all attended. The same principles applied of bringing workand ideas germinated in the solitude of the studio. The salons also includedpoets and writers in a rich cross-pollinizaton. Both Cafe Guerbois and Stein’s salon nights provided the intermediate step of introducing work and ideas totrusted colleagues. The critiques were not always taken with grace and goodhumour. Conversations were often heated. Once Manet challenged a reviewer to aduel. The injury was not fatal and they remained friends.
Whine & Critique on Wednesday nights cannot promise duels. Itis meant to be a welcoming, friendly peer review of finished or unfinishedwork. Every third Wednesday of the month we gather at another artist’shome or studio. Bring a bottle of wine or a small dish, but more important – bring a piece of work. It can be a “work inprogress” that has lost all progress. It can be a finished work you’re darn proud of and want to bathe in kudos. It can be a hint of an idea you’re not sure has merit. Whatever is brought will be treated with care and attention.The format does not allow a nightmare scenario of college critiques ending intears or curses. It is meant to be helpful and questioning – supportive and reassuring. As artists we’re all in this together. Questions are more important than answers.
An added benefit is seeing another artist’s studio. There are ideas tobe shared here too. Perhaps an artist is using a different palette set-up youthink might be more efficient? Or a photographer has a unique piece of lightingyou’d never thought of? Cross-pollinization doesn’t lead to homogenization. Itleads to strength and variety. Join us.
The next Whine & Critique will be held August 15 at the home of Jen and Craig Palmer at 764 Larchmont Road in Elmira at 6:30. For more info visit the W&C Facebook page.