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Category Archives: Craftwork

Ellen Lattz, "unbound" 2017.png

Sometimes I have something specific that  I want to say, but when I look at the blank sheet in front of me, my mind gets just as wiped clean.  Nothing comes to the surface of my thoughts.  All the important, fun stuff I was going  to say remains buried in the murky depths of the thought scape.

Today, I thought I would try to reverse the process.  I begin with no particular thought in mind.  I write with no fixed destination.  The hope is, that the view will become interesting, that an intriguing scene will spring into being suddenly blooming into a fertile vista that will stretch to the horizon, dragging my eager fingers with it on the keyboard.

It’s been raining for a couple of days reminding me of the children’s tale, “The Cat In The Hat.”  I wonder if Dr. Seuss began his story as a result of being cooped up with his pets by rain.   Perhaps he consoled himself with this tale after having to clean up after dogs and children that needed to go outside occasionally, and also needed to be let back in, mud and all.

We are forecast to have more storms moving in from the west.  It is snowing out there.  Will it get colder here?  Will the water stay on the ground, instead of running off into the already full creek?  I’m reminded of Queensland’s recent inundation.  500,000 cattle were drowned in the flooding.  along with everything else that couldn’t make it out of the area in time.  I don’t anticipate there being that much water here, but them again, Queensland didn’t anticipate that much water either.

We take for granted that we will have time to do things in the future. A future that isn’t guaranteed to happen, and if it does happen, not necessarily in the way we were planning. I have children I was planning on spending more time with, and Grandchildren I wanted to get to know. We don’t always get what we want.

If I had the time to do the things I wanted to do, one of the things would be to build interesting things with them.  To discover their passions, and help them realize even more capabilities.  I’d like to engage with them in creative things they never thought of doing.  To watch them find delight in the work of their hands, and satisfaction in completing a task and watching the results.

I’d like to garden with them, build homes with them, paint with them, and watch their joy.  I’d  teach them to throw pots, make bricks, and make useful, sometimes beautiful items to enrich their lives, and the lives of others. I’d build kilns with them, glaze pots, and fire them into glorious life.  I’d teach them about printing presses, typeset, and telling stories in both pictures and font. Maybe some of these things will get to happen. Maybe this rain won’t destroy the possibilities.  Maybe this rain will inspire me, and them, instead.

If we have time together, I want to hear about what they love, and what they hope to be able to pursue in the future.  I hope that their current experiences don’t lead them to anger, resentment, and destruction.  There is enough of that already in our world.  We are drowning in the results of piled on finger pointing.

We’ve been very carefully taught to play the blame game through our social and educational settings. This attitude is destroying our better creative urges. You can’t make wonderful things while you are engaged in the radical overthrow of everything around you. The two activities don’t compliment each other. I hope we have time to talk about these things. I hope we can re-direct all this pent-up energy back into constructive dialogue, and increased understanding.

We do need a radical overhaul, not necessarily of the physical reality, but mostly of our collective thinking. We need a radical change of heart; a national repentance from where we’ve been, and what we’ve been engaged in.  We all got too comfortable and dis-engaged from duties and responsibilities. We allowed those to fall to others while we pursued petty vanities.

We worked to keep up with the Jones’s and Kardashian’s instead of staying involved in civic planning.  We let people frighten us into giving up not only our freedoms, but also the best of our independence.  We gave up our personal livestock and gardens. We allowed others to dictate what the definition of poverty was.

Instead of a plethora of skills and abilities, which comes with farming and animal husbandry, we fell for the images of wealth, ease, and affluence displayed by those who used the work of our hands to get that.  Our gardens, chickens, pigs and cows were not what held us back. Those are the very things which kept us from positions of begging, of want, and of servitude.

Eventually, we allowed our leadership to trade off our manufacturing jobs, albeit we didn’t understand that was what would happen. We believed the leadership had our best interests at heart.  We weren’t paying attention to history, to what had just happened to others who did the same things, even within our own lifetimes. We allowed ourselves to be distracted by easy entertainment, and rah, rah, chants for teams that played games.  We were lulled by the soothing  sound of “people don’t think that way” and “nobody would do that”, even though we have seen many places where they most certainly Did do that.

If we are fortunate. we will get those jobs back.  If we are dutiful, we can take back control of our civic zoning laws. We can kick out those who wish to frighten us with their tales of health risks, and get back the real health that comes with home grown garden vegetables and clean fertilizer from our own farm animals. Our own chickens will go back to being our natural pesticide squad, and our own cow’s raw milk will be the source of our strength.  Our livestock will once again be the source of our butter and egg money.  Our earned extra.  Our surplus that we use to save and trade for those things we don’t grow or make ourselves.

If we are given the time, if the Good Lord is willing, and the creeks don’t rise, we will rebuild that which was lost. We will improve on what went on before by being more cooperative with each other. We can learn to diversify the works of our hands, while specializing in those things we have a knack for.

Imagine a block of homes, where the open areas are gardened and farmed in a collective effort. Where we put the land under our feet to good use for our health, instead of poisoning it into only growing skinny, short grasses.

Imagine learning to grow edible flower gardens as once was done; where we remember that Passion flowers make good fruit and jelly, and aren’t for just looking at.  The knowledge of these things hasn’t yet been destroyed. It is in our libraries and on the internet. Some of it resides in the memories of our Grandparents, who actually used to do some of the things we’ve lost, or who watched their Grandparents do the things we only see in pictures now.  Our elderly may not have the physical strength they once had, but they have the memories we can learn from. They are a valuable resource, if we will only remember to honor them and allow them to instruct us in a few things once more.

If we can learn to merge the use of the new things, with the activities of the old things, we will be twice as rich, twice as capable, twice as safe, and twice as secure.  We will have the advantages of new creations, with the security of the old skills. We can engage in new pursuits while keeping the ability to do for ourselves, and provide for our own security.  Independence requires work. Work provides dignity and self-respect.  Self-respect is a component of happiness.  The pursuit of happiness isn’t found in too much ease; it’s found while engaged in worthwhile labor.

I hope I live to see my children and grandchildren able to implement these activities. I hope they will have the opportunity to build a better world, a more cooperative world, a more diverse in activities world, a healthier world. We had a world like that once. it was depicted in the 70’s T.V. show “The Waltons.” I hope my Grandchildren live to build it again, and improve on it.

 

What is Art?  What is Fine Art?  What and why is there a difference?  I have a degree in Fine Art and an Inter-disciplinary minor in Art History and Religion, which is convenient, since the subject matter of what is Art, and what is Fine art are tied up some in all these subjects.

choosewellyourfight

This piece is a representation of a work of art by myself, Ellen M. Latta, completed in 2017.  It is rendered in oil paint on masonite. The title of the piece is “Choose Well Your Fight”. This particular painting has an original poem painted on the back of the panel also created by me. It would be an interesting detail in any Certificate of Authenticity as in no other place would this poem be rendered in oil paint written in cursive by the hand of the artist.  It is better than a signature, which is easy to forge. The hand-painted poem is not so easy to forge.

The word “art” simply means to make something, thus anything that is made might be called art. Craftsmanship means it’s made to a standard that is recognizably excellent, and possibly repeatable in the same manner. Knitters and crotchetiers are examples of both artists and crafters. Custom furniture makers are another example of artists and crafters. Industrial designers are artists, and the processes that produce the designs are craftsmanship. I salute all the artists and crafters of designs for their excellent contributions to our high standard of living.

Back when Michelangelo was a lad, the landed gentry were not supposed to get their hands dirty. Doing craft work, painting, masonry, carpentry, wagon making, wheel making, blacksmithing, all of these were considered menial labor not to be performed by those who were in charge. That was considered peasants work.  It might be skilled work, but it was still a lowly occupation. The landed gentry learned swords and maces and all sorts of deadly fighting skills, and control tactics.  One of the control tactics then as now, was information and the manipulation and suppression of the same.

As a young lad Michelangelo had watched a stone mason working sculpture and developed a passion for it. His father did not approve, but Michelangelo was not so easily dissuaded.  In order to make the work of his son not be looked down on, Michelangelo’s Father came up with a brilliant plan to separate the craftsman’s work out and created an entirely new field of work approved by the landed gentry for their offspring.

Since information and the manipulation of ideas was part of the landed gentries stock in trade, “Fine Art” was set apart from craft work by the introduction of symbology that conveyed a separate message contained within the work. Sometimes the symbology was hidden, and sometimes it was blatant, but always it was present in the work. Modern Art still contains these requirements to meet the threshold of Fine Art, thus the publicized write up by a recognized art critic is essential.

There are whole books dedicated to the language of symbology.  Certain things present in the work are meant to convey specific meanings. Fruit, flowers, geometry, numbers, or quantities of items all have specific meanings. Animals can represent ideas and concepts as well. Colors always have affects, but also may convey other things depending on the context of the piece. A line may be just a line, or it may point to something.  A shape may be meant to convey a form or a specific idea. The roughness or smoothness of a piece may also convey more than one type of meaning, or such treatment may be meant to provide a more subtle provision.

Fine art lies at the intersection of politics, high-finance, communications, psychology, and craftsmanship; the latter consideration being of less importance than the former. An officially recognized work of Fine Art becomes a vehicle for the protection of or the transfer of wealth. The major fine art auction houses are the international facilitators and officially sanctioned record keepers of these financial exchanges. Museums, and art galleries are secondary vehicles of these transactions.

Art is one of the things that is not taxed in the same way that most property is taxed. It can be used to protect an amount of money. One person may convey an amount of money to another person through the means of a Fine Art purchase as well.  The item purchased should have an authentic seal of approval of it’s possible future value through the use of officially sanctioned Fine Art critics who publicly proclaim an artist’s work to be worthy of the title of collectible.

If a person is conveying an amount of money between parties through the use of Fine Art, it is generally preferred that the art is difficult to make forgeries of.  Documentation is required.  A gestural work, in art’s language, is a rapid stroke that roughly draws a subject.  Gestural Art has found a particularly important niche in the fine art world, as it’s nearly impossible to make a good forgery of a truly large gestural work.

This latter form of abstract art has landed some confused criticism from many who proclaim that their five-year old could make better art than that seen in some museums.  Indeed, it may be true that the five-year old might make a better representation of something; however, the five-year old is not officially sanctioned by authorized critics within the art world to make symbolic art for sale to collectors; thus the sloppily drawn noodles of line that depict whatever fancy has struck the sanctioned artist become a cashable check for those looking to protect their assets with something non-taxable.

When the average person attacks the value of a work of proclaimed fine art, based on the lack of representative craftsmanship, they misunderstand the purpose of the piece. It likely is a representation of money and power and sometimes even position. To treat it as anything else is to threaten the financial stability of many of the world’s top fortune collectors. This was more probably the reason for the Bonfire of the Vanities than the purported religious excuse that was used in the destruction of much of Europe’s Fine Art collections in the middle ages.

One need not actually destroy the works themselves to destroy the financial footing of those who own the work. One needs only destroy the officially sanctioned recognized value of the pieces to drastically reduce the net worth of the individuals who own them. Hitler’s Degenerate Art exhibition, staged by Adolf Ziegler in 1937, was an instance where the acclaimed value of some types of art, or works by individuals who were not approved of by Hitler’s regime, were devalued by proclamation of a Nation state. The devaluation of these artists work, instantly reduced the net worth of many art collectors within Germany and their occupied territories.The more certain method of this destruction though, is to destroy the works themselves, as there is no coming back from that.

Some people are purchasing Fine Art through the Auction houses and immediately shipping it into a vault underground.  This is a form of tax safe haven, and a hopeful insurance check against possible disaster. As with most investments, it’s not guaranteed to pay off, but there is historical precedent for the idea of getting value back at some time in the future.  One might want to store up the auction house catalog as well as the certificate of authenticity and the letter of provenance to the piece as an additional set of proofs of the value of the work.

The certificate of authenticity is a form that the Artist may provide stating that the work in hand is indeed their work and not that of a forger or rogue print maker. The letter of provenance is a detailed history of the trail of owners, verifying that it is legitimately owned and not a stolen work of art.  If a work has been stolen and found and returned to the owner, these details are included in the  history of the work.   With a true work of Fine Art, the certificate of authenticity and the letter of provenance are as important as the work itself to maintain and verify the value of the work.

This is a very general explanation of the realm of Fine Art. If you found this information helpful, write in the comments below. Let me know if there is more you would like to know about the subject of Fine Art, or any particle field  of Fine Art.  I will be happy to provide more detailed information.

 

Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc. January 2019.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story, Ellen M. Lattz at emariaenterprises, llc with appropriate, and specific direction to the original content.

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