Image by Mike Harris

2019, A banana was taped to a wall with duct tape and sold for $120,000. The artist ate the banana and the business that bought the art just put up another banana in its place. 1980’s, A group of people tape a sheet up at a party and throw paint and food at it. They submit it to a prestigious art show where it wins first prize and sells for more than anything else at the auction. 1962 a print artist creates a canvas depicting a Campbell’s soup can, he doesn’t even paint it, its printed! Andy Warhol goes on to become the highest paid artist of his time. Don’t even get me started on performance art, YIKES!

Why do I even bother? Because I like creating art. Most everything I have done in my life has been centered around creative endeavors. There are a few jobs where I was serving food or working in box stores but the ones that lasted were around art. I like all art, even the weird stuff. I was at a show in Spokane during “Queer Walk”. It was meant to spark conversation; I might have lived with 2 of the pieces, but I don’t know what they symbolized for the artist. The rest were uncomfortable and awkward. The art display made me consider many things and that was what it was for, to spark a dialogue. I also like abstract art; the use of color and line, value and tone, it all fascinates me. I could stare at it for hours.

I create landscapes and paint animals and people seem to enjoy them. Great! I have a lot of satisfaction doing them. I love the struggle of taking a 3-dimensional subject and rendering it down to 2 dimensions in a way that people not only recognize but enjoy. We all like to sell our art, but that can be harder than our family realizes. The thing that we need to ask ourselves is this, “would we still create our art if no one cared?”

I’ve known many people who create art just because. The canvases stack up around them and the family watches them pile up. Some family members will take the best of them and sell them quietly for the artist, enter Nancy Russel. Did you ever hear about Charlie Russell or CM Russell? He would draw on napkins and hand them off to people and his wife started picking up his pieces and selling them. She is credited for making him the western art icon he is today. He would just keep painting and drawing, he liked being a cowboy and the art was a side gig.

Native American people create some of them most elaborate art work. Traditionally, they used porcupine quills, cedar fibers, pine needles, feathers, buffalo hair…… Then beads came along. They traded their art between each other for goods and services but, they created.

Why do we bother? Because it isn’t always about what we create but because we can. Creating it is good for our mental stability, our stress levels and our lives. Don’t look to the performance artist and his $120,000 banana, look at why you are moved to create art. Above all, keep that pure. It is honest and healthy, and it makes your life better. If others want to include what you create in their lives? Bonus!

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.