Just for your information, last year I was privileged to write and deliver an art commentary about realism in art focused on the California Art Club and their show for KPCC. This station, found at 89.3FM is an Public Radio station located in Pasadena. I delivered my commentary on the show "Off Ramp" hosted by John Rabe, which focuses on arts and culture in Southern California. Click here to go to the Off-Ramp archive of this show.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF MY COMMENTARY DELIVERED ON "OFF RAMP" ON 4/26/08
COMMENTARY – REALISM IN ART (edited and checked against the broadcast)
When I started painting seriously about 20 years ago, unless you were "out there," you were nowhere. And realism was REALLY nowhere. But now the art world is starting to grow up and finally realizing that just being "out there" is not all there is.
HOST(John Rabe): Commentator and water colorist Donna Barnes-Roberts.
Art is joining music and dance, which grew up decades ago. We all understand now that there's jazz and classical and rap, and ballet and tap and square dancing, and there's an audience for quality of all kinds.
But ever since the invention of photography, realism in art seems to have lost its focus. It's as if, before the camera, everyone believed that the value of art was in making pictures of reality, and once you could take a picture yourself, who needed realistic art?!
It's taken more than a hundred years to realize that the difference between the snapshot and art is the eye and hand of the artist. But in the intervening years, a lot of knowledge and lore about realism has been mislaid. As a watercolor painter, I was luckier than some. I didn't go to art school, where teaching realism has been absent for decades ... although a few illustration departments kept us closet realists alive. One of my cousins refused to paint after her graduation, telling me, "All I ever learned from my degree was how to pick apart someone else's painting. I am not going to leave myself open to such humiliation." And I've had art school Graduates take classes from me because their college art teachers told them to "express themselves" without teaching them the mechanics of how to paint.
But things are changing. Many people are starting to realize that "traditional" art can be serious art. The California Art Club runs education programs for artists and collectors, and puts on exhibits of really fabulous works by contemporary realistic artists. There is one at the Pasadena Museum of California Art that starts this weekend, in which I have a couple of paintings. One is of the lotus and a heron at Echo Park, and the other a view of the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena. You'll know them when you see them because all the paintings in the show are realistic!
Realists are standing up and saying that they like paintings that are recognizable and sculptures that are enlightening ... but we just need to remember that the art world also needs the work that is "out there" too. Otherwise realists have not learned the lessons that the decades of humiliation should have taught us. Art is about passion. And passion is beyond reason.
For Off-Ramp, I'm Donna Barnes-Roberts.
HOST: Watercolorist Donna Barnes-Roberts teaches and paints in Altadena. The California Art Club Gold Medal show opens at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Sunday, April 27th, and runs through May 18th.