Beholders Find More To Art Than Meets The Eye


Payson and the Rim country are residence for many fine artists. In looking at just how strong our arts community is, it was decided to begin a regular arts column exploring the world of these creative individuals and local arts activities on a regular basis. This first column is an overview of art and the purposes of art throughout human history.

Man has always had the need to create and to interpret his ideas and surroundings. Art, as a visual medium, was and is an efficient way to do so. Paintings, drawings and sculpture have long been used to present ideas, tell stories, record surroundings, events and people. Art also was used to uphold or decry the political, moral and religious ethic of a society. Art, in some form, has been utilized by every culture known to man.

Art is not limited to what we normally call the fine arts. Art also includes stained glass, jewelry, leather tooling, furniture design, photography, glass blowing, cloisonne, print making, wood working, and just about anything one may think of that is a part of our material society. In these areas the more popular term used is craftsmanship.

There also are many different disciplines within the art world as a whole. There are art therapists, art historians, art critics, art teachers, and designers as well as sculptors and painters. Each has his or her own area of expertise and purpose. An art therapist often holds a degree in psychology; an art historian looks to history and analysis of a period of time regarding art. It was once said an art historian is to art what an ornithologist is to birds. They classify well. An art critic usually writes about an artist or exhibit showing at a museum or gallery and will discuss the technical qualities and contribution of the artist or the exhibit.

Additionally, there are many different resources for acquiring and seeing art. Many artists have their own studios and occasionally open them up for group or individual tours. This allows people to view and purchase art.

Then there are art galleries. These are businesses that usually present several artists, or present a single period of art from ancient to contemporary periods. Some of these periods are very specific, such as the early California Impressionist period.

An art museum is not a place to buy art, but a place to enjoy art. Many of the larger museums have rental galleries where people can rent a work of art for a while and then return it and rent another. These rental galleries work with artists and their clients on a contract basis. Often, if someone wants to experience a body of work by one or more artists over a period of time, this is a great way to go.

Anther venue for acquiring art is through a broker, a dealer, or an artist's representative. Brokers and dealers are often in their "retirement years" after working all their lives as gallery owners. They are the ones who have the clientele list with whom they have dealt for years, know their clients' tastes, budgets, and which artists those clients are interested in. An artist's representative usually has a stable of five to 10 artists and represents those artists to private clients, galleries and through trade shows.

Often when the word "art" is used, there is a direct, immediate reference to paintings and sculptures. One tends not to think about all the areas of expertise that contribute to this discipline. The more people know about art, the more they can appreciate it even if it's a work of art or a critique of an art piece that does not suit their particular tastes.

As these columns unfold, we will be looking at what different artists are creating and what techniques they're using. We'll also present some thoughts about what they do and we'll showcase some examples of their work, as well. We may also explore different areas of art history and the different components used to create works of art such as light, color, texture, perspective, shape, line and form, as well as the experience behind that which was created.

Editor's note: Sharesse Von Strauss has bachelor's and master's degrees in art history from California State University, Northridge. She also is the director of the Rim Country Museum and a member of the Green Valley Redevelopment Area Committee. These columns, however, represent her personal views and were not developed in connection with the museum or the committee.

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