Artistic in the District, Part One

Contemporary Visual Artists and Fiction Writers Sharing a Common Muse

Mural, Annapolis, MD
Mural in Annapolis, Maryland

As a lifelong lover of art, I find Contemporary Art, the many forms it takes, and the unique spin each artist brings to their medium, intriguing. It differs from Modern Art as the latter, Contemporary, emerged from the former, Modern. The Modern Art movement began earlier, dating back to the late 1800’s with the work of the Impressionists and including movements such as Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Contemporary Art has fewer movements and less lofty ‘isms’. It includes but is not limited to Post-Modernism, Toyism, Bitterism, Stuckism, Thinkism and Funism.

Art movements, be they ever-changing, simply put, the distinguishing factor between Contemporary Art from Modern Art is timing. Contemporary Art falls under the large umbrella of the art of our current lifetime. Does that mean 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s? Perhaps it depends on your age.

As a writer, I feel captivated by the term ‘movement’ as it defines an artist’s style, technique or philosophy. Furthermore, how does the era and history of one’s lifetime influence their art? How does the artist’s personal circumstances influence their art? Similarly, how do these same structural guidelines apply to writers?

People often refer to writers as artists. I am not sure I totally agree. It would depend on what the writer produces. A non-fiction writer can learn to polish the craft of writing and become competent enough to entertain or persuade others through his or her writing and may even earn a living as a writer. Does entertainment or persuasion alone equal art? What other factors define it?

A fiction writer or poet is a closer cousin of the visual artist in that he or she invents people, places and events and then weaves them into a credible tale to entertain, persuade and/or generate an emotional reaction in their reader. Defined by what they write about, and which genre best defines their writing, are fiction writers not similar beings to our artistic cousins in that we often share a common muse? We create our own vision of the world, or life as we see it.

This calls to mind a favorite quote by a very famous artist: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Artists and writers share a common bond in that we both face the blank page with the same measure of optimism. We create something from nothing, draw out what lies within the emptiness of a blank page, a blank canvas or an empty space. Tackling this problem is the challenging puzzle for both the artist and the writer. But do we owe even more consideration to the viewers and readers for what they take away from our creations and how it this is tempered by their own history, experience and imagination?





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