The Decoy of Art

LA Pool after HockneyA duck hears a quack that sounds a bit out of whack and decides to hide in the reeds. The duck call recedes. Later, a duck decoy floats by, and our duck hears that queer cracker again, now from the far side of the pond. The prattle, it skiffs across the smooth water, sounds not propelled by a voice – and that’s the art of the duck call.

Museum art, discovered, sold, and resold, donated now so someone can get their name on a room, where “infinity goes up on trial” (Dylan, 1966, Blonde on Blonde, “Visions of Johanna“), hangs by the imprimatur (“let it be printed”) of money.

Why, when art is capable of producing such wealth and covetousness, does it still require public funding? Because anyone can make art and the average duck can’t tell the decoy from the real thing? Or is it because the decoy is the real thing?

cloud surf

Is the philanthropist involved in a clean form of money laundering? But this is neither the time nor place for a conspiracy theory. Do we breathe our art together, or solo? You can’t make a duck out of lead, at least not one that will float. That requires a pencil.

Does art require genius (En attendant Godot)? Every child has an attendant and attentive muse. Genius is the ability to listen with ears open, even when filled with wax, to see with eyes clear, even when they are closed. “You can look but don’t touch” is the beginning of art criticism. One day, the muse disappears, and the child no longer makes art. Instead, she buys it, or tries to. She applies for a grant.

Once upon a timeA friend who is a close reader, noting correctly my sudden obsession with my text-drawings done with the phone app, asked, “Having fun yet?” Once upon a time, art was fun, which is to say the making of art was fun. Writing was fun. The two together a blast!

Cooking is not the same thing as eating. Sewing a dress is not the same as wearing one. A colleague once said to me, “Everyone should write a book no one will read.” Maybe they do. How would we not know?

Meantime, my attendant must be on spring break, vacationing here. Can’t seem to get rid of her. I’m not sure if she’s another starving artist or just a decoy.

Note: with thanks to our regular reader from down under (who goes by “B”) for the inspiration behind the LA Home with Swimming Pool after Hockney mini-pic.