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[BKARTS] Book Art Criticism

I agree with Paul B that the relationship of an artist's work to politics, war, and religion is appropriate to this list. And with Paul W's observation that NY style discussion is not for all.

Book_Arts-L is not all about how to make an N-guard binding or what adhesive to use on Mylar. These technical details are important to share, but the great thing about this list is that we do discuss the philosophical foundations of what we do. And criticism is SO lacking in this field that I am thrilled to see people like Sally Jackson, Cari Ferraro, Lavinia Adler, James Tapley and Paul T Werner voice their opinions.

When things get out of hand our leader does pull the plug on offenders. The current discussion is not yet over the top in offensiveness, though it clearly has evoked the passion of several contributors. Some people think Pepper's work is lacking in skill and discipline, others see it as refreshingly spontaneous. It certainly has spawned discussion of some broader underlying issues.

I love a good rant, and am prone to them. Albert M. Fine, the grand master of rant and First Majority Cosmic Elder Consciousness, was the artist in residence at the Center for Book Arts for two years. Walter Hamady and Henry Morris gave back-to-back rants at a CBA conference. Henry's "Song of Solomonitis" rant was a classic.

Hiding your opinion or trying to make everything nice for everyone all the time does not advance the culture.

We're talking about art and artists here, not children. If someone presents themselves in public as an artist, they should be treated as an adult. If you want to be kind to an artist whose work sucks, let them know. And be specific about what the problem is. If their skin is so thin that they have a nervous breakdown about it maybe they shouldn't be showing it in public. The artist can decide whether the criticism has merit. And through the criticism we learn more about the critic, and about ourselves.

To discuss the relationships of an artist's work to religion, philosophy, or craft discipline certainly are reasonable areas of discussion here, and perhaps the word should be ESSENTIAL areas of discussion.

Let's remember that James Pepper brought up the issue of the relationship of his work to the tradition of religious iconography, and the work IS a religious text. To leave religion out of the discussion would be absurd. And contributors delved further into this-- the craft and art traditions of religious calligraphy, the economics of scribedom, the relationships between religion, art, and politics. Aesthetics and ethics are closely interwoven.

I was brought up with the dictum that one doesn't discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Perhaps those who have sensitive stomachs should not read this list at meal times.


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