Friday, March 27, 2009


Last Sunday's article in the Bee about Thiebaud, Kondos, and Dalkey was a lovely thing to start my day with this morning. The piece isn't particularly ground breaking and I'm not sure that it necessarily offers any new insights into the three men, however, chronicling their friendship in conjunction with Sac City's art collection was an interesting read. Also, of interest was listening to the three men chat about their early careers in the context of Sacramento's artistic growth.

Tracing the influence these three men have had is not difficult especially on most any 2nd Sat stroll. Thiebaud/Kondo-esque landscapes depicting the central valley and delta are plentiful. So much so that viewing these knock-offs can sometimes lead to an under appreciation of the originals. As much as the copy cats can sometimes frustrate, picking up a copy of the New Yorker with a Thiebaud on the cover can often fill me with a sense of pride for our region.

When I was at Davis I took two classes from Thiebaud, one drawing and the other art appreciation. I have often credited Thiebaud with teaching me to draw although truth be told I think part of it was that I was so star struck and delighted to be in his class that I put more effort and patience into drawing than I ever had before. Thiebaud's art appreciation class was absolutely charming. Though I disagreed with many of his positions on art and found Gombrich's, "Art and Illusion" a bit conventional, the real delight of the class was the Thiebaud factor. Listening to him talk about his early career, read poetry, play jazz, and discuss Krazy Kat were usually the highlights of my week. I also appreciated his request that we write a food review for his class. This was an easy accomplishment for me seeing as how I think about food 24hr a day so writing about it was a simple joy. What I realized about the assignment after having done it was that in assigning us a food review, Thiebaud was encouraging us to think critically about everything in our lives no matter how unrelated to art they may seem. In the end I wrote a review of Lil' Joe's.

Finally, the last thing that resonated with me from those two classes which I have since referenced in lectures about my own work is that art is simply something that either compels you or it isn't and if it compels you then it will most likely be all you're interested in doing. This topic came up in a discussion about Thiebaud painting on Christmas day, and when someone scoffed at the idea he said, well, I want to, I'm not forcing myself. It's really true. There are days that I literally crave my studio, and leaving it after a long day makes me feel like I just had a solid meal or a good nap. Sometimes I think studio time is presented like this grueling time that you have to put in to be legit when really many of the really talented artists I know wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Anyhoo, enough chattering. Just read the piece.

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