What is art?


Ask 10 individuals to define “art” and you’ll get 10 different answers. In fact, Merriam-Webster.com lists six definitions of “art” as a noun. Technically, it’s impossible to define art because it really is very personal. One person’s definition may produce a look of disgust from another.

Having grown up one house over from Darvin and Evelyn Luginbuhl, much of my own perspective of art was formed by frequent exposure to Darv’s home studio. Our race to the Luginbuhl’s tv room to watch Saturday morning cartoons with Bill, usually took a circuitous route through the studio, where we were met by the heady smell of clay and Darv’s wheel — an awe-inspiring piece of equipment.

Darvin Luginbuhl, c. 1994

Christmas and birthday presents often arrived in the form of a hand-thrown ceramic pot filled with candy, the bottom of which was always signed with Darv’s swirling “Luginbuhl” signature. Later when my husband and I married, we received a wedding gift of a large teapot with matching mugs, of which there are no duplicates.

In a way, I’m an art snob, but mostly in terms of the fact that mass-produced items don’t fall into my own definition. More importantly, though, my definition is formed — in part — by Darv’s belief that personal, creative expression is essential when “making art.” If I learned nothing else from him, it is that one can almost always find beauty in a piece of art.

When my daughters were young, we kept a constant supply of plain white paper for them to draw, paint, and color on. This practice was encouraged by Darv’s admonition that a children’s Christmas art contest should not involve coloring in some preprinted Christmas design. Instead, they should be encouraged to draw their own picture of “Christmas”.

So last night, while my husband and I perused the items to be auctioned off during the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneur’s annual art auction, we agreed we needed no additional paintings or photo productions.

Our own collection of art includes names like

Paul Soldner, "Of Ships and Sea," c. 1950s

Paul Soldner, Darv and Gregg Luginbuhl, Bob Minto, John Klassen, Steve Smith, Richard Minck, and some pretty amazing stuff by Lindsay and Anne Steiner.

That didn’t stop my husband from bidding on a few pieces. What I didn’t realize was that he fully intended to win the bidding on the only item of wearable art,

Barbara C. Fields' fingerless wool gloves

a pair of wool fingerless gloves knitted and designed by Barbara C. Fields, and inspired by Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s painting, “A rainy Day out on sea.”

Suffice to say that we came home with these beautifully crafted gloves. They meet my current need for art to be useable, practical, and unique.

My only regret is that I didn’t need to wear them today with temps in the mid 50s and no chill in immediate sight. But there will be plenty of time for that. I’m just wondering if the hubs was attempting a subtle hint that I resurrect my wish to become a better knitter. Now where did I put that red yarn?

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3 responses to “What is art?

  1. Funny you should post this today because right now I’m drinking wine from a piece of pottery that Anne made. A piece of art indeed.

  2. Pingback: A Hundertwasser Poem & A Couple Of Hats! | One Little Caterpillar Munch! Munch! Munch!

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