bay lights project sz2

A couple of years ago when my friend (and WORK member numero uno), Amy Critchett, became the executive producer for The Bay Lights project and the economy was hurting, some people questioned the value of art and many thought this multi-million dollar project would never get off the ground.  Alas, the bridge is now alight and a well-loved icon of public art for the masses. In fact, you can watch an inspiring documentary about its creation this Sunday in Sebastopol.

This Friday is the opening party for friend of WORK, Nuala Creed’s 100 Ceramic Archivists commissioned by the Internet Archive in recognition of the people who have dedicated years to building this non-profit, regardless of rank.  And last Friday was an opening reception at the new IceHouse Gallery featuring another friend of WORK’s landscape photography.

So what of all this ‘art’?  This made for a fascinating conversation at coffee social…

10,000 hours- The idea that true mastery of most any skill takes time (namely about 10,000 hours) has been popularized over the last few years.  Throughout the ages there has been a tradition of apprenticeship and years of practice leading up to success as an artist. Take Picasso’s early work, for example.  Wow!  You can suddenly see the depth of understanding and artistry underlying those outrageous cubist paintings.

Longevity- What is kept and displayed and what is lost?  For a society that questions the value of art, we sure do have a lot of it hanging around.  In fact, one might argue that art is what humans historically save and thus value most.  Which leads us to wonder, what of the guerrilla art?  We still have the master portraits of aristocrats and the porcelain pottery of kings but were there subversive works being made by plebeians that the museums failed to save?  And then there is the art that is fleeting.  Live performance is amazingly powerful but even if recorded on video, the true essence of the moment can never be exactly replicated.  It is an art that lives in a specific moment in time.

Audience- Is it art if nobody is watching?  A dance without an audience, a painting without admirers, a song without listeners- are they art or just hobbies?  At what point does a work cross over into the realm of “more than ordinary significance”?  And who’s to judge?

We seem to be left with more questions than answers.  Perhaps that is the true beauty of art- the ability to spark thought, challenge the definitive, and be something different to each individual.

Written and photographed by Natasha Juliana.  photo: Amy Critchett and Nuala Creed enjoying the Bay Lights together. (Along with Natasha, Matt, Mark, and Jeffrey)