Learning about Art

Yesterday I went to the Des Moines Art Festival with my wife. Vendors from all over the country put their works on display and attempt to sell them, and the variety always amazes me.

There are oil, acrylic, or watercolor paintings. There are photographs. There are ceramic sculptures. There are wood carvings. There are metalworks, glassworks, and mixed media pieces. There are displays, frames, furniture, clothing, jewelry, baskets, kinetic sculptures, and plateware.

Some pieces are functional, and some are abstract. Some were gorgeous, and some were fascinating to look at. Some I could see having a place in my home, and some I could see never making it in through the front door. B-)

Almost all of them were priced outside of what I could afford, but it was still enjoyable to browse. It’s kind of like going through a museum and seeing what’s possible, and I found myself delighted by finding out about things unlike anything I’ve never heard of or seen before.

For instance, I learned about “scissor drawings”, and the artist explains how she creates her work in this video:

I learned what a skilled hand can do with wood, creating 2D art that looks three dimensional with no paint or dyes.

I learned about glass sculptures that look like architectural scale models.

I learned that some people are inspired by nature, found objects, inherited family heirlooms, and by abandoned places. Some people had artistic statements that were straightforward, some were general and vague, and others seemed to struggle with the idea of mixing commerce with art.

I had one conversation with an artist about the festival, and while I can’t remember exactly how she said it, she said, “One of the purposes of art festivals is to get people to be aware of what’s out there. It’s not all economics.”

So despite walking away with nothing, I feel I gained quite a bit simply knowing more about the artistry that’s out there in the world.

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