“Art is Disorganized Religion”

Suzanne Edminster with portrait from by Bob Cornelis from Studio: 50 Sonoma County Artists
Suzanne Edminster with portrait from by Bob Cornelis from Studio: 50 Sonoma County Artists

I owe this delightful quote to Chester Arnold, a Bay Area narrative painter. What a great metaphor!  He extended it a bit:  there are cults and fanatics, for example. And, paraphrasing, he noted that “Art is essentially an irrational activity, like religion.”  Laughter erupted in the audience.

This was in a panel discussion from the STUDIO: 50 Sonoma County Artists photo project by Bob Cornelis at the Sonoma County Museum.  I was lucky enough to be  included in this book.   It resulted in 15 minutes of fame for me, as my studio portrait was chosen by the Sunday Press Democrat to publicize the show.

The panel discussion touched often on the idea of the Studio as a sacred site.  Hmmmmm.  If “art is disorganized religion”, then the temple must be the studio.  The paint or materia prima (stone, ink, etc.) would be the sacrament and the artist the priest.  Patrons, then, are the churchgoers.  Chester Arnold also called the Internet “God’s Brain.”  I added for myself that it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  Chester stole the show, at least for me.  His own paintings show a textural wit and intelligence:  story deeply grained like rings in wood.

Oh studio, studio… what and where and when is your studio? Do you like visitors or not?  How public or private, neat or sloppy, sacred or profane is it?  I no longer have the studio in the portrait.  Several artists I know have recently changed studios.  We might romanticize the studio, but they’re a wink in God’s eye.  There I go, getting serious again.

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