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Art ~ A Personal Perspective

Updated on April 18, 2013

For an introduction to the 'Perspectives:' series, visit ~

"Perspectives: An Introduction"

What Is Art?

In this 'Perspectives:' series I most commonly take a conceptual approach to our topics, I ramble on (and on) about underlying philosophic constructions that give order and form to ideas like 'Loneliness', 'Vanity', and 'Knowing Your True Self'. But, not exclusively . . . I've also offered a rather personal take on a few of our 'Perspectives:' themes ('Gratitude', and last month's 'What Don't You Know'). This month's theme, 'Art', thrusts itself at me on both fronts, I am unable to drawn clear lines of distinction between art as an objective concept of human existence and as a very personal feature of my own life.

The photo to the right is me, as I am. Admittedly the lighting suggests a bit of, uh, solemnity or sternness, but I only wanted a factual representation of me, so (in the evening, with only the light from the computer screen) I moved my mouse to the camera button, looked at the lens, and clicked - this is me as I am, sitting here writing this . . . and, I am 6'2", have a deep & authoritative voice, and I have a very deliberate & sure manner about myself, and so 'intimidating' is the word frequently used when others describe me.

However, I have a very sensitive nature, I endlessly write poems trying to express my love for my wife, I cry watching Fred Astaire movies just because he's so good at what he does . . . years ago, when my size and appearance suggested a threat to unruly customers, I had to quit a job as a bouncer in a local bar because it was too heartbreaking for me to stand there at the door every night and witness so many miserable characters wasting their lives away.

The sketch to the right is how I see myself, inside . . . an easygoing storyteller, an independent soul who thinks too much and then spills all his thoughts out on any near enough to hear if they demonstrate even the slightest interest, as if each expression of an idea were treated as though it is music to the universe. Ideas become words, words can be presented as music, music gives us internal pictures - art starts with and comes from thinking, and, sort of from thinking too much.

Not everyone is an artist, some folks are occupied with the business of life . . . busy catching busses, busy hearing and passing on the latest scandal, busy escaping fear or boredom, busy making ends meet. Artists, it seems to me, are those people who too often miss their bus, who just cannot be interested by the latest scandal, who are busy searching for truth and beauty, who can't stop thinking about things others are too busy to think about, or have no interest in.

. . . but what is art?

Rather than being prompted with a dictionary definition of art, I am going to share my own sense of what art is, hopefully, a more operational, 'as we all have to deal with it' idea of what art is. For me, at it's first step, art is an expression of feeling through the means of some manner of instrumentality . . . one person creates something with color and shape, another person with phrases, another with melody, etc, and others sense or apprehend his feelings. Now, I do think the 'feelings' part is essential to art, but ability or talent is as well. Someone, anyone, can easily take pencil to paper and offer their rendition of a horse, but do the rest of us see a horse, or a bear or a sheep or we don't know what - is that art? Anyone can say 'I drew a picture of a horse', that is informative - but is that statement poetry? Anyone can start singing a random series of notes in the form of 'horses are beautiful, some are brown and they all have four legs' - is that music?

Some people, not everyone, can paint a picture of a horse that gives the viewer a sense of strength and even freedom or ideas like fortitude or gallantry. Some people can write a poem or essay on horses that can stir the reader emotionally rather than merely inform him. And some people can perform music provoked by an appreciation of horses that can rouse the listener and produce feelings . . . the same feelings the painter, writer, musician had that inspired his work. For me, that's what art is, or does - it communicates what one person feels to another. I can tell you how beautiful I think my wife is, and you would then know I think my wife is beautiful, you would have that piece of information - but if I paint a portrait of my wife, write a poem about my feelings for her, sing a song celebrating our love, etc, then you could feel my feelings, you could apprehend a sense of the emotional truth of the informative 'my wife is beautiful'.

But this then introduces the 'objective' or 'subjective' argument about art - is there a measurable definition of art, or is art in the eye of the beholder? This, I confess, still puzzles me. Certainly the theme song to the tv show 'Three's Company' is not music in the same sense that Eric Clapton's tortured love song 'Layla' is music. Certainly there is an artistry envisioned, strived for, and present in ' Please don't say we'll never find a way, And tell me all my love's in vain' that is not envisioned or strived for or present in 'Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, Three's company too', and musically, melody-wise and performance-wise, it must be commonly agreed that there is an artistry in Clapton's vocals & guitar playing that makes it a different thing altogether from that sitcom jingle. Yet . . .

If art is the communication of emotion, if the work of an artist is to share with his audience his feelings about something, if he is expressing some inner sense he has of something through painting or poetry or music, etc, then isn't the worth, the artistry of a thing the degree to which it moves it's audience? If I play a recording for African bushmen of a Rossini overture and they get nothing from it, but if I play a recording of Benny Goodman and they laugh or cry or have some significant emotional reaction, then isn't Benny Goodman the superior art? If generations from now people look at da Vinci's Mona Lisa with indifference but wonder and are thrilled by the graffiti of an unknown street vandal, who is the superior artist, who has given something he feels within himself to those who view his work?

This is why concepts like love, beauty, and art, resist definition - because they are universally recognized and understood in one sense and so privately appreciated and esteemed in another sense. Art is the handiwork, the consequence, of conveying a universally known emotion to others very personally . . . it's a common language of private feelings.

. . . so, in practice ~

The crucial aspect of all this, for me, is that we encourage and cultivate and appreciate art. That we participate in the artist's, or artistic, endeavor, either by practicing our own art, our own expression of our own feelings, or by very actively enjoying and learning from and celebrating the art of others. As my children were growing-up, we had 'family night' on Fridays . . . that meant the kids, in rotation, got to choose the meal for that night, we all played a game together, and we did art. The "did art" meant, one Friday we would all listen to Gershwin, the next Friday I would have them each write a poem, the next week we would listen to Hendrix or Chopin or John Lee Hooker, the next week I'd have them draw or paint a picture, the next week we'd watch 'Rashomon' or 'Taxi Driver' or 'Bringing Up Baby', etc, etc.

Today, each of my (6) kids knows what they like and why they like it - one loves Sam Cooke another loves Louis Prima another loves The Who, one loves French Neoclassical Painter Jacques-Louis David and another loves DC comic book artist Murphy Anderson, etc, etc. And one culmination of this attention to sharing and celebrating art; the photo at the top of this page is Mickey Jr, when he was studying Art History in Venice.

This month, Vicki is taking Maria's place in order to allow her a well deserved respite. Our other guest writer this month is Nellieanna. Next month's theme is ~

"What Matters"

If you'd like to be our guest writer, contact MickeySr.


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    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      tillsontitan ~ thank you for your favorable very warm review.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      And here we have another hub by an artist! One with heart and understanding. Seeing and feeling art is from within...while teaching and exposing our children (as you did) is the best way to get them to appreciate, they have to feel it and the more they know the more they will feel it.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Docmo ~ I'd love to be as good a writer as your well ordered and glowing reviews frequently cast me as - thank you.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Martie ~ "I am back from a fantastic holiday with the most wonderful man"

      I'm confused - I have absolutely no memory of going on any 'fantastic holiday' recently . . ? . . when and where did we enjoy such an event?

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      5 years ago from UK

      Your attention to detail, your unique and always interesting viewpoints and sharing your wonderful way of introducing children to various art forms... all make this another great read from this easygoing storyteller with a vast heart. Hope all is well, Mickey Sr., If art is all about sharing, showing, connecting and communicating- you have shown how well it could be done with this piece.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      I am truly in full agreement with you, Mickey, and not just because I am back from a fantastic holiday with the most wonderful man. Art is indeed in the eye of the beholder. You yourself is a piece of art :)

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Faith Reaper ~ thanks, and, I am blessed.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Gypsy Rose Lee ~ thanks so much for coming back again and again to read my stuff, that's very encouraging to me.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Nellieanna ~ "My impression from the context and explanation is that it's a self-sketch. Is it?"

      It is . . . I call it (him, as in, that particular part of me) Blind Boy Mickey. The sketch (character) is based on one of the very few extant photographs of Blind Willie McTell, my very favorite musician . . . his first recordings go back to the 20s and his last recordings were well into the 50s. He had a haunting voice and played a 12 string guitar like it was a 6 string, giving his playing an equally haunting tone as he sang things like "tombstone is my pillow, cold ground is my bed" . . . nobody quite like Willie McTell.

      ""Rashomon". . . did any of your children respond to it?"

      My youngest, one of my boys (19 at the time), was not too keen to watch a film with subtitles that afternoon (I don't like subtitles either - always fearful I'm missing the visual impact by looking back and forth between image and text), but when it was over and ever since he counts it as a masterpiece and one of his very top favorite films.

      Even just from the questions you ask, and don't ask, I sense a keen kinship with you Nellieanna - thanks for the visit and encouragement.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      marcoujor ~ "I am starting to love me some Mickey"

      If I can enjoy a surety of that one accomplishment, then all my hard work ain't been done in vain for nothin' - and I can at last rest from the quest that so governs my every thought and deed.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      I love your perspective here on art and that you have shared your innermost thoughts of yourself and your beautiful family. You are blessed.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      You have a special spot in my heart, Mickey! Of course I run when I see you've posted!! :-)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Art is mostly all about likes, dislikes and how you look at things and how you express them. You had wonderful Friday nights letting everyone have a chance to express themselves. I love to paint and draw but I can't do it very well so I visual everything through my digital camera and that works much better for me. I agree with Nell that creating your six lovely children was an expressive form of art in itself. Hope all is well in your world. Hugs. Passing this on.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Vickiw ~ thanks so much for your warm review, I genuinely wish I could have been more present for your collaboration with our little troop, you've been a great partner for us this month.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      bravewarrior ~ thank you so much for your ongoing attention . . . I think yours is the first comment on over half my hubs, and I do appreciate it.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, you're right, Mickey. Art is the effective communication of feelings, from the artist to the recipient, and only when that 'happens' at both ends is it really art or good art. Otherwise, it's just neutral markings on a canvas or physical stirrings of sound waves - or whatever basic stuff of someone's adding something where there had been nothing. It's the connection between them that transforms it to art.

      The sketch depicting your true feelings of who you are accomplishes art in that sense, especially knowing something of the man in it and his revelation of what it means to himself! My impression from the context and explanation is that it's a self-sketch. Is it?

      I'm amazed. This is the first time I've ever heard or seen( anyone casually reference "Rashomon". I saw it in 1954 in Waco, Texas. It's a haunting work of art, which is truly unforgettable. Just curious; - did any of your children respond to it?)

      Creating those 6 beautiful children is a work of art, too!

      Thank you for your thoughtful perspective on art, written artistically!

      Gets my votes!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Come and knock on my door....

      OMG, I think I am getting all artsy and soft on my break...I am starting to love me some Mickey...Sha and Vicki, let me join you in hugging this old bald boobie for a job well done...!

      You are indeed a loving family man who has your priorities straight at all times. This month your perspective is a fabulous blend of wisdom and personal experience...a joy to read. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello Mickey, it is wonderful that you have managed to help yoiur children each discover their niche in the world of art and art appreciation. Your Hub is very thoughtful, introspective may be a better word, and your appreciation for art shines out in your love for family and all artistic interests in life. I do not see you a a bouncer, you are far too kind for that! I really enjoyed this read.

      Hope things will soon clear for you a little. It has been lovely to write with you this month again, and sending you some more hugs.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Mickey, I love your perspective. Art is found everywhere and is subject to each individual's interpretation. What one finds glorious another may not see anything at all.

      I love the way you've raised your children with the various arts and giving them choices to express themselves. That act in itself is art!

      And so are you! You are a very handsome man. I love your photo, I love your self-portrait and I love your heart. I don't care what Maria says, I think you're awesome! :-)


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