All art is interactive. It’s a cliché, I suppose, that is true. The Fluxus school of thought, for instance, teaches that no art is complete until there is a consumer at the end. The painting does not exist until it is seen. It’s all very abstract, philosophical and gallery chic.
But laying that idea on the average art lover, someone attracted to the idea and aesthetics of art but not necessarily varying schools of conceptual thought, is not only ineffective, it can come off as intellectual bullying – you will like this because I have told you why it is important. People dig what they dig. That’s the nature of man.
And so, despite that aforementioned cliché’s best intentions, art sometimes is not interactive. Enjoying art can, in fact, be a relatively passive experience. Think about it. We all experience, but do not necessarily acknowledge, art hundreds of times a day. Music in the stores, the television in the background – even the well-tagged train car rolling past – represent creative endeavors that go unappreciated. It’s enough to make Fluxus cry.
Locally however, there seems to have been a small revolution, a new way of thinking and new ways of engaging people in not only art, but its creation. Situated somewhere between the traditional art lesson and party magicians, local artists Jay Jacobs and Shishir Chokshi have found interesting ways to demonstrate to art patrons – both young and old and in a very real way – what it feels like to create a piece of lasting and significant art.
Jacobs has recently unveiled an idea that involves cooperative painting. For approximately $500, he supplies canvas, color and expertise and, over the course of an event – be it a birthday event or corporate gathering – builds one of his distinctive ‘automatic’ paintings with all involved. The result is a cooperative piece the patron can call his or her own, both in terms of ownership and, to some extent, execution.
Chokshi, who has been treading similar ground over the past several years with his autumn pumpkin project – he throws clay pumpkins and patrons carve them – is also looking to expand on that idea.
At his Tire City Potters, he can produce all manner of work – from simple pinch pots to ornate art pottery and, for a fee, put the decorative component in the hands of patrons. What he is providing is the opportunity for customers to enjoy a true studio experience, learn the history and techniques involved in building, glazing and firing. He, like Jacobs, is also providing the opportunity for people to not only purchase, but also produce a piece of fine art.
In the end, both Jacobs and Chokshi have found a way to sell not only art, but something far more resonant and real. They are selling the ability to understand, at a deeper level, the process of making something from nothing. They are selling engagement in the artistic process. They are selling, in fact, nothing less than a sense of creative satisfaction – and that is priceless.