Marty Dunn - Artist, Bradenton, Florida

Marty Dunn - Artist, Bradenton, Florida

“A real work of art destroys the separation between the receiver and the artist.”  --Leo Tolstoy

It can also destroy the separation between receivers, cultures, and perspectives.  Tolstoy, Kandinsky, Baldwin, etc. tell us that adding ‘spiritual’ to describe art is redundant.  Of course art is spiritual.

“An artist must have something to say, for mastery over form is not his goal but rather the adapting of form to its inner meaning.”  --Wassily Kandinsky

Leaning in far enough to have something to say has cost me everything.  I was homeless for three years; been to Africa six times; worked in jails, nursing homes, operating rooms, churches, synagogues, and mosques.  And this is what I found:

"Community is rooted in the quality of deliberate intention."  --Howard Thurman

People are hard to hate close up. Children often have the clearest vision. We are much more alike than we are different. Most of us are eager to communicate. 

"The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover.  If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don't see."  --James Baldwin

My dad was an artist.  He worked as a commercial illustrator in the days before clip art.  He was also a war hero, who suffered from PTSD for the rest of his life.  His few oil paintings are dark, monochromatic renderings of fighter planes in tight formation.  He was trying to say something that the society of that era wouldn’t let him put into words.  Wise people say that the greatest tragedy of trauma is the loss of vulnerability.  Dad could never let his guard down.  But we had a common language in our art; him instructing, me learning.  What we couldn’t share in conversation is right there on the canvas.

Communicating is tough.  The artist must be truthful, must tell his or her secrets, must court disapproval, and must never censor work in progress.  Those we love deserve nothing less.