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Community Notes: Create your own art, for its own sake

By Karl Haglund, Assistant Director, Charles City Arts Center

I watched a television show not long ago. The premise is that this person uses the half hour (20 minutes maybe with commercials) to “ruin” some commonly held beliefs or concepts. One of these shows was about ruining art.

In a sense, the idea was that the art being revered and pushed by galleries as “masterful” is done so more as a money-making scheme versus being pushed on the merit of the work itself. The idea of pricing art or saying “this is better than that” was said to be completely ambiguous.

I’m not here to argue for or against this point, but, merely to agree with the idea that some great art is being done by people who are completely unknown to most of the world. Art that you can buy on the street in large cities on the cheap. Or even … could be bought at rural art centers.

“This sounds like a sales pitch, Karl!” you might say.

But it’s not intended that way. My intent is to explain how anyone with the desire to paint or express their ideas – through any artistic medium – can do just that.

And they should create without having to feel like they need to be in galleries around the world or to impress other people. Just create for yourself and see what happens.

Outsider art is a term that maybe a few of you have heard at one point in your lives, maybe not. But here goes. … Outsider art is basically art that is created by people “outside” of the normal art institutions and mediums. Non-traditional art.

An outsider artist is usually without a formal art education, and they often use items that are found or salvaged versus bought at an art store.

Example: a person works 60 hours a week to barely “get by” and cannot fit art school into their schedules and they paint on wood that they find in the trash using the cheapest paint they can find.

The art they create is not about becoming a rich and famous artist, but more so about the act of creating something that did not exist before they grabbed their paintbrush. Bringing something physical into the world.

Anyone can do this if they have the desire.

And it just so happens that these artists can create some incredibly exciting work. Work that eventually transcends their local art communities and reaches a broader audience. But it doesn’t have to. It can just be cool local work. That in itself is extraordinary.

And this art is great for the “every-person,” like me, with not a lot of funds but who wishes to put original art on their walls. The work is often priced under $300 and it is original art that no one else owns. Just you. (You can high-five yourself, I do).

All this said, if you want to be an artist of some form, or you just want to make cool things for your wall (a lot of artists start that way), you should inform yourself in some way. Find art that you like on Instagram and study it. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? And then figure out how to make your art better or to a point that satisfies you.

Watching videos on the Internet is a great way to learn techniques and get new ideas. YouTube education.

And you could also get involved in your local art community through something local, like say … the Charles City Arts Center (Warning: definite sales pitch).

The Charles City Arts Center exists entirely to cultivate these pursuits. I am probably biased, but I believe we are an extremely important part of our community’s’ identity. Not just with our monthly art exhibits, but more so with our art classes and our open studio time on Saturdays where a person can “rent” time in our pottery studio. Make stuff!

On a personal note, the existence of the arts center in our community is entirely how I was able to get my art career off the ground.

Early on I would often visit and ask then-director Nicole all sorts of questions about techniques and standards. My first exhibit was in that building. It was a priceless resource for me. And one I am very thankful for.

I am also very grateful that I am in a position now to be a part of that for future artists.

So, don’t throw that old board away. Buy some cheap paint and turn it into a work of art.

And stop in to say hello and chat about art. We’ll be there waiting.

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