Past Posts

April 02, 2015

Beauty alone is relevant

This year's April Fools post wasn't a blog post here but I wanted to share it here in some form as a way of archiving it so the kids can enjoy it when they're old enough to appreciate it! So, briefly, I made a fake blog with a fake art critic who wrote a fake post about 4-year-old Bailey's artwork. The blog is here, but I doubt that site will be up for years so I'm pasting the thing below. My father Tim wrote it entirely, and it's pretty damn funny.
First, a Facebook post linking to the blog:

Here's a spectacularly weird and fun thing. Three days ago we got call from a guy called David Dachelet, a retired art critic from New York Magazine. He saw our 4-year-old daughter Bailey's art after a mutual friend of ours in NY sent him a link to a facebook post I had made. He said he was inspired to write a little blog about it. Cool! We talked a while and he was asking all sorts of questions about Bailey, our family, etc, I sent him some more photos. And then earlier today he just sent me this link to a post about her work. It's a little over the top but who cares! I just think it's cool he'd even consider writing something about a 4-year-old. And our four year old! Have no idea where this will go but it's fun to think of others out in the world seeing this stuff.


The Innocence Blitz
by David Dachelet


Beauty Alone is Relevant 
Today I am going to risk a little. My reputation certainly. Perhaps my identity! Hopefully not my sanity, but time will settle that.
As an art critic, I trade in beauty. My office is to notice it, to demand it, to press my cheek against its glass house like a beggar and implore it. For that, my world, the world of art, is filled with friends and enemies. In the end, both are equally irrelevant.
(more after the jump)
Beauty alone is relevant.
And today I have found beauty harboring in a completely unexpected corner.
It happened this way: Bob Dipler, my friend and a photo editor at the NY Times, telephoned. He knows a Minneapolis photographer, he said, whose daughter might be an prodigy and wondered whether I might want to have a peek at her work. He apologized, but he wouldn’t have called unless etc. etc. There was a silence while I sought for an out, found none, and consented.
I was, thankfully, an easy prey of destiny.
He sent me a link. I viewed the pieces. I was trembling. Now I am calm enough to write, and I write with joy and gratitude in praise of an immense talent and without pride in discovery. I have been, frankly, a little humbled, a little unmanned.
The artist’s name is Bailey Garvin.
She is four years old.
I will let her work speak for itself. May it speak to you as it spoke to me.
(Bailey, incidentally, does not title her work, and has kindly given me leave to propose my own, which I have duly done.)
Christening
Perhaps all artists will at some point in their career attempt a white on white. Kazimir Malevich did the first one 1918 with his “Suprematist Composition: White on White.” Robert Rauschenberg also rejected substance with his five white canvases in 1951. But has any artist achieved the delightful offhand precision of Garvin’s “Christening?” Note the hints of brown in the glue (a creeping suggestion of inevitable impurity?), the central accumulation in the high center of the four overlapping whites providing a brief hold before the eye is pulled away, marveling. These were photographed by Bailey’s father, by the way, a skilled photographer, but not a museum lighting specialist, and frankly I long to enlist one.

Reluctant Disagreement

Bailey has a beloved sister, Netta, seven minutes older, and in “Reluctant Disagreement” she beautifully captures something of every twin’s dilemma—what to do with anger on the summit of love. This is a picture of war, coiled fists, heads and heads only, both repelled by the other, mutual misery expertly expressed in the flowing curves of mouth. And yet both figures are flooded by the shared yellow beneath, reaching irresistibly toward those proud solitary heads, and over all, the eternal blue of a benign sky. This is when I began to tremble.

Fifteen Friends


Bailey and Netta (a lovely child, no doubt, but without her sister’s artistic promise) attend a nursery school. Class size: fourteen, Bailey included. What greater tribute of love and trust than to depict each of her friends, regardless of status or race, in stark black and white, some hopeful, some lost, some perhaps even demented, yet each given ample, and equal, space to be. And the fifteenth figure? That’s the one in the lower right, and is a representation of Elbow, her teacher’s beagle, and given, so subtly and easily, a slightly larger frame in which to romp!
Mountain Lake

Each summer Bailey’s parents stay a week or two at a small cabin on a lake north of Minneapolis. There is a hill there where the sun sets. The lake is large and blue, and in the evening beyond the campfire the sun and hill go red together. It’s all expressed here in lovely friendly minimalism. See how the water, the eternal fluid uniting all life, is disquieted by rapture and overflows its bounds!
Miro’s Pegasus

In Miro’s later work he abandoned the surreal tracery of his youth, offering thick scruffs of black line coiling about scars of red, blue, and yellow paint. Bailey has achieved something similar in “Miro’s Pegasus,” using the delightfully tongue-in-cheek schema of a child’s coloring book as foundation. The picture explodes with angst and longing—the bold primary colors surging from below, the indifference to boundary, the purity of white above, the purple crown of horn and the noble yellow muzzle—this is a Pegasus careless of gossip and censure, ready to mount the skies toward freedom. Here I began to calm, as one always calms in the present of an assured artist.
Storm over Chicago

Each summer Bailey’s parents stay a week or two at a small cabin on a lake north of Minneapolis. There is a hill there where the sun sets. The lake is large and blue, and in the evening beyond the campfire the sun and hill go red together. It’s all expressed here in lovely friendly minimalism. See how the water, the eternal fluid uniting all life, is disquieted by rapture and overflows its bounds!
 Parents
Two figures, both phallic and powerful, both compartmentalized, one with the giant listening ears of the watchful scold. They are blue and blue only. Perhaps, says the artist, if they could escape the weary cage of adulthood, they could, like their daughter, find a colorful new world. But alas, they stand in forlorn isolation. They are blue, and blue only.



A note: I interviewed Bailey’s father, Mr. Ben Garvin (one of the subjects of “Parents”) on the phone, and he was, though incredulous, generous with information. I sensed a kindly man, but one utterly ignorant of his daughter’s gifts. I must be bold here and publicly urge that he and his wife, Jessica, begin to recognize their responsibility, not merely to Bailey, but to the rest of us as well. Preserve her pieces, PLEASE, and see that she has time, opportunity, and material to explore her gifts. Please.
I end this way: in the comment section that follows, we could begin a discourse and roll through the hills and dales of structuralism and deconstruction, or whatever ism is the current vogue. But I fear we would end with the cheery admission that no one of us actually understands art and the source of its beauty, vitality, and delight.
The saints may know.
And, I think, children do.
Bailey Garvin certainly does.

No comments:

Follow our blog by Email