Saturday, August 22, 2009


Last night Valerie and I were enjoying cocktails on our porch (our favorite pastime) when the conversation turned to that old chestnut, the purpose of art.
Valerie said she was perfectly happy if no one ever saw her stuff. She created for her own pleasure. I suppose this is the definition of art for art’s sake.
For me art is a language and there has to be person on the other side. Of course art is whatever you want it to be.
I’m going after truths that you can’t get to any other way. If I could do it with words I’d be a writer. I haven’t been able to get to the subtle nuance of my experience or my subconscious with words. If I was doing it just for me it would be like talking to a wall.
When I improvise, I’m trying to uncover something I hadn’t noticed before. I’m uncovering something for me but I see it as exposing a universal truth.
I guess it’s for some kind of affirmation of my existence. Just as long as there’s two of us life has meaning.
The Udell males have notoriously bad hand writing. That has translated to everything I’ve ever attempted graphically. It doesn’t help that I have absolutely no self discipline and won’t practice.
I remember trying to forge a note in my mother’s handwriting to my teacher explaining my absence. I was playing hooky. My mother’s handwriting was just too damn good and I couldn’t pull it off!
Fortunately I learned it was more important to get your point across than to create a disciplined piece. I guess that explains most of contemporary art.
I remember Dali saying Picasso was a genius but he couldn’t paint.
Sometimes the language of art can be a little exclusive. You can look at Mondrian’s Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red and just see squares and colors. When you learn that it’s based on a classical construct of painting composition you get the joke. This rectangle is where I put the wind mill, this one is the horizon, etc.. Why not just reduce the picture to its real meaning. Representation is for photography. These guys had to learn a lot about the history of art.
In the 70’s I tried painting. I worked with oils and even tried an air brush. I had friends that were purists telling me the air brush was cheating. To me it was like using an effects pedal on my electric guitar, all’s fair.
After countless hours tearing my hair out trying to paint something I liked, I’d plug my guitar into a distortion pedal, my wah-wah, and a delay. I’d achieve instant gratification. Needless to say I eventually lost interest in producing graphic art.
I found an old oil stained notebook of drawings from the mid 70s. One is me being interrupted while pissing by a campfire, one is an apology but I can’t remember what I was apologizing about, and the last is my illustration of a passage from the song Webster Hangover. Note the snail and ant. This was from the great rock opera my buddy Dominic and I wrote as teenagers.


Tony Patti said...

Flowers versus dollars. Valerie and I see art like flowers, that can exist in the world, making it a better place, but which have the same value if they are in the center of a table under a spotlight broadcast on TV or just one dot in a field in the distance only a bird ever sees. You see art as a transaction, something that takes up the time it occupies for both the creator and the observer. The essential mystery of music is that it only exists while it is happening, while other arts are actual objects that endure in time whether they are being created or performed or not.

Doggie said...

To me art ain't pretty.

Anonymous said...

Re. your comment about Udell male handwriting: your brother Patrick's is absolutely the worst, most illegible, yet when he so desires it is PERFECT! And......your grandmother Udell's looked about the same as your Dad's, yours, Patrick's (most of the time) and Dylan's, so it must have been a gene passed through her???

Your Mom

dominic schaeffer said...

I remember Adam Canepa had a tee-shirt he wore a lot that had two boxers on it with one punching the face of the other and above it was simply the word "ART".

...Sharon said...

I really like your drawings. Got more?

Anonymous said...

i remember the easel you had in the apartment on 13th st. Patrick and i were always very careful not to disturb it when we were tripping and pacing around the apartment Geo