The art of looking

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One of the reasons I started Juanele AR was to disprove the idea that appreciation of art required a degree or mastery of an obscure lexicon. For years, I’d avoided the art scenes in the places where I lived because of the burnout I’d experienced in cities like Chicago and New York in the States. They say they’re open; but they’re not. The accessibility of the Buenos Aires scene, on the other hand, particularly the galleries in San Telmo, encouraged me to at first explore and then to promote. I’d say that’s a pretty good recommendation.

One reason I love this portfolio by Andy Donohoe is that it captures anonymous gallery-goers in the act of looking and contemplating the art that’s in front of them. The art itself is often hidden, or occluded. The art, finally, isn’t what’s important in these shots. What Andy’s showing here are moments of attraction, of attention grabbed. These moments depict finite tracks of time now stretched into forever by his camera. Keep looking; eventually you’ll discover something, and that response is valid, whatever it is.

Sometimes we just can’t win, though. Our art walk was recently called “pretentious” by some youngster who took it. For free, I’ll add. She didn’t have much fun unlike everyone else on the tour that day. Apparently we talked about “art” too much. OK…

On the other hand, for some we’re not pretentious enough. I had a multiple e-mail exchange with an internationally known photographer who took issue with Carla Harms’ coverage of his opening. Better that the blog didn’t exist at all, he said. Artists hear that kind of thing all the time, I thought. It’s right up there with “Anyone could do that.”

Luckily we don’t live in a world where what a critic says, or what an artist says for that matter, need have any bearing whatsoever on what we take away in the act, the art of looking. So whether we experience that painting or that photography exhibit in a “delirium of observation” or simply with a smile, or a roll of the eyes, our responses are still our own and they’re still worth sharing. Or not, as we wish.

The important thing is to keep your eyes wide open.
 

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7 thoughts on “The art of looking

  1. @joebertino I love that shot underneath the bridge in SF Moma. It always scared me to walk across it. Much prefer that vantage point. Thanks for your encouragement, as well. I hope you’ll take the time to share our IndieGoGo campaign. The widget is up there on the right in the sidebar. We could really use some help right about now.

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  2. @joebertino I love that shot underneath the bridge in SF Moma. It always scared me to walk across it. Much prefer that vantage point. Thanks for your encouragement, as well. I hope you’ll take the time to share our IndieGoGo campaign. The widget is up there on the right in the sidebar. We could really use some help right about now.

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  3. I love this idea. People watching at a museum is sometimes more fun than getting lost in the art yourself. I did this a while back at SF Moma. I have a few “art of looking” shots too, which are my favorites from the album. https://picasaweb.google.com/Joe.Bertino/SFMOMA As usual, really great stuff. You’re absolutely right about the NYC scene not being open. It took me a couple months, and a lot of exploring, to stumble upon some brilliant and welcoming spaces in Brooklyn. But it makes all the difference in the world. Keep up your art walks! The world needs more people like you, and fewer people like the complainer you described.

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  4. I tottally agree, i love art and i discovered many things just by looking and loving. Art “learning”, i think, should be a natural process, and must never be the opposite. Art wakes up your soul through your senses and that´s the key. What can i say about the portfolio? Andy´s one of my favourites photographers, as i told him once he knows very well how to dive into people´s soul, even when they only show their backs!

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