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What is art, anyway?

Sidebar by Diane Alexander

Art – December 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Diane Alexander asks some artists —

What is art, anyway?

What is art, anyway, and what makes a person an artist? Webster’s defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” This covers a lot of territory, leaving the field wide open from traditional oil painting to cake decorating.

“Everyone should have equal access to displaying their work, and ultimately the people who view it should be the ones who decide what’s art and what isn’t,” said Donna Emsbach, a local artist, and chairperson of the Art of the Rockies Association in Salida.

Stuart Andrews, president of the Chaffee County Council on the Arts joked that to be an artist, “The first step is to make sure you’re virtually unemployable in any other field.” He continued, “We drive ourselves to art. It’s an inexplicable need to create which strikes all of us, whether we doodle on a phone book or carve marble saints. I don’t want to look back over my life, when my time is near, and think, ‘I was a good laundry folder or grocery shopper.’ I want to know, on my deathbed, that I always tried to create.”

Bob Gray, owner of Trembling Aspen Gallery in Buena Vista, characterizes himself as a woodworker who evolved into an artist through his appreciation of form, shape, and color. When he moved to Buena Vista 22 years ago, he says it was a mining town, definitely not a tourist spot, and that art was almost nonexistent. “Thanks to the efforts of civic and art-minded individuals,” he said, “the improvements to the Courthouse Gallery gave a boost to the arts. I see growth every year.”

When asked what art is, Gray replied, “Whatever makes people happy is okay with me. We’re all different, and are touched by different things. I’m interested in fishing, and I think that hand-tied fishing flies are an art form. I don’t believe in putting down anyone’s form of expression. People should buy what they like, and that’s the neat thing about the art scene in the valley — so many different choices of art are being offered.”