Vexing Vexations

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“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”  Antonio Banderas (from Brainyquote)

All artists experience frustration at some time or other.  It is a fact of life.  How one chooses to handle the frustration can make a huge difference.  Or not.  Fantasizing about destruction of another’s artwork may have occurred in the thought processes of some artists at one time or other.  Most people will grumble a bit.  Others will, perhaps, voice a few well-chosen descriptive words.  Some may even take to a blog to spout some derogatory witticisms.  Few will act out of violence toward another artist.

One artist recently vented his frustrations by very publically destroying the one million dollar work of another artist, (see note below).  His frustration was supposedly due to the gallery in question’s statement of intent to support local artists.  The destroyed artwork was by an artist who was not local. While the frustration is understandable, what purpose does violence toward another artist serve?  Or is this a case of civil disobedience?

In Max Ehrman’s famous Desiderata is the quote, “Avoid loud and aggressive people as they are vexatious to the spirit.”  While the frustration is understandable the reaction is quite vexing.  Where does smashing artwork get anybody beyond the “15 minutes of fame” spotlight?  It did call attention to the galleries statement.  That could result in possibly a few more pieces by somebody local.  But long-term change seems doubtful from this bit of destructive violence.

Insight from the blog, Johan Turdenmeier’s Miscellany pinpoints the innate problem with this behavior.  “I wonder when if ever the vexatious person will notice they are the cause of other’s retreat.  If they have any idea that they’re behavior is literally sucking the spirit out of their companions.”  Violence does suck the spirit out of those around it.  The art- smashing artist is probably wondering where his friends are about now.

Had this artist taken the time to examine his frustration a bit he might have come up with a less vexing response.  Organizing a protest would have been a good start.  His friends may have joined him for that.  The publicity would undoubtedly have been more favorable, not to mention the optics.  When expressing vexations it is always better to avoid vexing potential supporters.  Vexing the target problem would have garnered significantly less vexation and possibly led to future reductions in vexatious-ness.  We could all get behind that.

(This account is purposely not reporting the artist’s name or the gallery in order to not assist in perpetuating more of this behavior.   We observe the 15 minutes of fame rule whenever possible. We hope the smasher’s 15 minutes are now over.)


If you would like to read more there are accounts at these links:


More from Johan Turdenmeier can be found at the blog:

The Artfully Unique Brain

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“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” Oscar Wilde (from Brainyquote)

Does art have the power to reach the brain in unique ways?  Do certain artworks directly connect with the deep inner recesses of the brain?  Does art have a brain pathway to who we are as unique individuals?  These are the questions asked by a team of neuroscientists in a recent research project.  The findings suggest a brain connection to how people respond to different types of art that is as unique as the individual.

The Arts Journal has posted an article appearing in the Pacific Standard by Tom Jacobs titled, “Mapping the Brain’s Response to Art.”  Jacobs sums up the latest research at New York University’s Center for Brain Imaging by a team headed by Edward Vessel and first appearing in Frontiers of Neuroscience.  Vessel’s team mapped brain responses to the viewing of art in individuals.  The findings show the brain has a distinct reaction to certain works of art.  Each person’s reaction is directly related to the unique identity of the individual.

It would appear from this research that a universal style or type of art may not be possible as the reactions to different works of art were as different as the people themselves.  The researchers were able to show the exact activation of certain parts of the brain to the art.  They found the reaction to be unpredictable in which work of art would set it off in each person.

Art unequivocally produces a brain connection creating the response of a moving experience.  The reactions, according to the research, suggest why some art appeals to some and not to others.  This confirms art as vital to human life, to who we are as people.  It also explains why some people have the ability to connect with an eggbeater as art, while others do not.  Therefore, unique artists can uniquely continue creating unique art.  It is likely there are unique people whose unique brains uniquely respond to the unique work of a unique artist with a unique temperament.

*photo is a unique strand of Spanish moss


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“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker (from

Do artists feel connected to the coverage of arts in the major arts publications and other media? Are these publications out of touch with the majority of working artists? Many times the articles in these journals seem to be very novelty oriented. At other times, they can have a general air of elitism separated from most working artists. Connecting these publications and other media outlets with working artists would be a good thing.

One arts journalist would like to know what artists and others interested in the arts think. In so doing, this journalist is asking for input from her potential audience. Chloe Veltman of would like to hear from the arts listeners to Colorado’s NPR. In an article on her Lies like Truth blog, she puts forth an argument for more transparency on arts journalism. She has a survey in her article to uncover what others would like to see in arts reporting. That’s refreshing!

Having a connection to what is covered in arts journalism would be nice. However, most artists today are carrying on without it. Artists continue to do what they do best whether or not any of the establishment types are paying attention. Most artists are concerned with creating art. If anybody is listening that’s grand. If they aren’t, artists will still be creating art. Artists just want to make art but it never hurts to speak up when the opportunity presents itself. You never know when a connection might happen.

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