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The Work of Art

It has always seemed to me that the central activity of humankind is art, that our common job consists of fitting each and every one of our unique and individual selves into a whole life and landscape, into our communities, into our common stories. (Irish pun intended) features some essays about that work — the day-to-day making and fitting together of whatever parts and pieces that come to hand, to make beauty. Like so much of industrial and post-industrial life, art suffers from fragmentation, isolation, separation between self and community. And artists have had little choice but to accept the terms they’ve been given — to “be an artist” you have to make it pay. So artists either have to work for wealth and power, or they have to work for advertisers, entertainers, and various purveyors of lies or inanity. But real art — from washing the dishes to hoeing the beans — as well as the painting and drawing and sculpting —  requires celebration and sharing of common beauties. Success comes not in the form of money, or fame, or status, but in the continued life of all those various beauties that we no longer know, and that we can’t, perhaps, understand: the beauty of life itself; the miracles of sun, moon, and earth; night and day; stars and seasons, and the utter uniqueness of our small blue and green planet.  Such beauty only makes sense when shared. That, to me, is the primary and ultimate motive for art. Wealth, power, markets, or even ballots make lots of money, noise, and mayhem, but only art makes beauty.  Essays will be posted in order, as formatting gets figured out and as time allows. It’s a work-in-progress, so comments are welcome, here or there!


For bowl carving, Bill invented this simple jig that sits on a bench to hold your bowl-blank, and greatly eases the job of hand-carving a bowl. He has also adapted the traditional Swedish pulling harness for the crooked knife, reducing it to a cord and a toggle handle with which to pull the knife. Read More..

Don’t be an artist

DON’T BE AN ARTIST [Art] must have begun as nature — not as an imitation of nature, not as a formalized representation of it, but as the relationship between humans and the natural world, from which we can’t be separated despite our attempts to set up a technological superstructure to destroy it. — Lucy R. […] Read More..