How does a beach town become a sacred ground? Gerry Fialka's interactive workshop probes the enduring existence of artists in an ever-changing Venice, California. Exploring the intentional and random roles that creative artists play in the life of Venice and vice versa, the workshop asks: How can a place affect the art-making and art-viewing done there, and exert a hidden influence on the psyches of its creative people?
Fialka surveys the lively history of artists nurtured in Venice, from the Beats to the Hipsters. This impressive legacy includes the Cool School superstars, such as Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Wallace Berman, Marjorie Cameron, Ed Moses, and Robert Irwin; notable Boardwalk renegades, such as Sunny Zorro, Dougo Smith, Diane Butler and Vinny DiGaetano; and skilled painters, such as Tibor Jankay, Ray Packard, Earl Newman and Rip Cronk. What threads or themes, if any, can be said to unite the works of these diverse artists? Artist Mike Kelley commented that making art is making your sickness everybody else's sickness. Does that idea of illness and a unifying disaffection apply to the artwork done in Venice over the years? As acclaimed screenwriter and director Paul Schrader has said, “The job of the artist is to attempt to sell out, but fail.” This workshop sees whether that axiom applies to these many illustrious artists of Venice, past and present--whether they successfully made failed attempts to sell out.
Using Venice and its artists as a test case or jumping-off point, the workshop aims to examine larger questions of why art is created in the first place. What functions does it serve, for its creators and its audiences? Equally important, what terms, priorities, and metaphors make sense to use when talking about the reasons for art? McLuhan and Warhol both said that art is anything you can get away with. We will trace interconnections between the famous ideas of "art for art's sake" and "the medium is the message." From another perspective, Marcel Duchamp said that there is no art without an audience. Can Venice's art community help us to better understand the audience's role in the creative process?
Returning to the idea of Venice as a sacred ground, a place of art and mystery, the workshop will look at how Thornton Wilder used different metaphors in addressing art's functions. He wrote, "Art is confession; art is the secret told. . . . But art is not only the desire to tell one's secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time. And the secret is nothing more than the whole drama of the inner life." That framework suggests that we must always ask, "What is art about, and then what is it really about?" Together, Fialka and workshop participants will consider: What is Venice's art really about?
“The Balinese have no word for art, they do everything as well as they can.” - McLuhan
"If it commands attention it's culture. If it matches the couch it's art." - Robert Williams
"One is an artist as the cost of regarding that which all non-artists call 'form' as content, as 'the matter itself.' To be sure, then one belongs in a topsy-turvy world: for henceforth content becomes something merely formal - our life included." - Friedrich Nietzsche
"Art as radar acts as 'an early alarm system,' as it were, enabling us to discover social and psychic targets in lots of time to prepare to cope with them." - McLuhan
"Art as a radar environment takes on the function of indispensable perceptual training rather than the role of a privileged diet for the elite." - W.T. Gordon