Friday, October 1, 2010

The Station Museum

An interesting find, I’m assuming the physical plant is a modified fire station or police station. The Website doesn’t say. However, the Website does list as one of the museums goals the “emphasis on the fine arts and artists that are rarely, if ever acknowledged by other cultural institutions.” I found that admirable especially if the emphasis is actually on artists that remain outside the Art World’s concerns because production is aimed tangentially (that is not directly related) to the current commercial goals of the global Popomo (Post Postmodern) era - a time when the 19th century concern for "beauty" in aesthetics is considered by many to be ancillary to the political and cultural concerns of art production. Not that I have anything against cultural and/or political concerns in art production. I do not. Never the less, the primary concern should be the artist’s personal aesthetic, which will often include cultural concerns, and which (I maintain) should include a concern for the aesthetics of beauty.**2

I would always ask the following questions first. What about this artwork is aesthetically stimulating? Does it invoke an emotional response through the use of space, form, shape, line, color, and/or other such devices? What are the techniques involved in production? How does the use of any/all the above enhance/ contribute to the expression of the cultural/political concerns of the artist? Only then should I ask, what exactly is/are the cultural concern(s) embodied in this artwork? I personally also wonder if the cultural concerns must be made readily apparent, or might they be obfuscated by other aesthetic concerns. Might that also be a production goal of the artist?

I took the time to explore past exhibits at the museum, and most of the artists exhibited do have cultural, political, and / or economic concerns expressed through their artwork. Indeed a primary goal of the museum is “to encourage the public’s awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and personal dimensions of art.” Unfortunately, the Website doesn’t show me enough of the actual artworks of the various exhibitions over time to establish whether or not my concern for “aesthetics first,” is also part of the museum’s mission. Indeed, the goals of Station Museum are such that I believe the definition of aesthetics here includes the cultural and political as just one more dimension of an inclusive format.

Now that I’ve expressed my own concern for beauty in aesthetic art production, first, it must be said that the Station Museum is privately funded and run by a power art couple, Jim and Ann Harithas. He was a past director of both the Corcoran Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, thus insuring that the primary concern of the museum will be to service the commercial goals of the global Popomo, probably all the while, not realizing that Station Museum is an integral part of a sub/culture that governs so much of recognized art production during the first decade of the Twenty-first Century. This last is not to disparage the International Art World, just to recognize that its goals are tangential to my own, and often to the goals of parochial artists in any/all American locals. Indeed, it is essential that ideas contrary to the local region be expressed and placed in the public eye in the hopes that such will influence growth in public understanding of the world beyond.

"So what, John," says my alter ego.

To which I reply - ss a working artist whose artwork remains outside the mainstream of the "Art World" I fantasize that we will see a resurrection of, and/or at least a concern for the aesthetics of beauty in Art, FIRST.

Never the less, I know that if I find myself in Houston once again, having lived there for two years as a twelve to thirteen year old (oh so many years ago), I will definitely look for and visit the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.


*A definition of beauty in aesthetics would of necessity be an extensively annotated philosophical treatise, and is beyond the scope of this journal. Suffice it to say that beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, and in this journal I - THE ARTIST - am the beholder.

*2 The Postmodern placed the viewer in the primary position of importance, not the artist or artwork itself. I maintain that the artwork is the most important because it is the switch through which the artist, viewer, and culture function, thus placing limits on my own argument in this particular journal entry.

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