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July 25, 1979 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-25

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, July 25, 1979-Page 7
Art fair a maze of artless offal

The approach of yet another of the
annual blots on this fair (not for God's
sake, Fair) city's streets undoubtedly
gladdens many citizens' hearts. The.
town's.regular merchants stand to rake
in more money than ever for goods wor-
th less than ever; the Greek restauran-
ts in town have likely ordered an extra
flock or two of slaughtered sheep with
which to feed gyros and souvlaki to the
ravenous crowds. Soft drink peddlers
are gleefully watering their caffeine-
rich sewage down, confident that their
rushed and hustled patrons will
overlook the resultant weakness of the
Meanwhile, the town's financial ahd
political leaders shout hosannas for
themselves and their constituents.
We've earned congratulations, it
seems, for creating an atmosphere
where artists can earn a living - for
three days, anyway. Wait. .. there's
something amiss in there. Yes, I've
found it. It's that word "artists." Who is
it that calls these vendors of velvet
violets "artists"?
My Random House College Dic-
tionary calls art "the quality, produc-
tion, expression, or realm of what is
beautiful, or of more than ordinary
significance." This seemingly strait-
laced definition is found in a lexicon
liberal enough to sport the basest
Anglo-Saxon vulgarities. Yet it does
make the litter on Maynard St. and
elsewhere look rather unqualified.
PERHAPS A more useful definition
Area tourism
bigger crowd
Vacationers are staying closer to
home this year. With the populous
Detroit area practically next door to
Ann Arbor, the gasoline scare that is at
least partially responsible for this trend
could conceivably enhance art fair at-
Although statewide tourism figures
over the Fourth of July holiday dropped
ten per cent from the same period last
year-when gasoline was both more
plentiful and less .expensive-the
figures calculated by the Michigan
AAA show a tourism increase of two to
three per cent for the southeastern part
of the state.

would come from a creator nationally
known as a gi-tem-.. artist, a man ac-
ceded to be among the most gifted and
inventive fashioners of his chosen
medium alive today: Edward Albee,
American playwright and author of Zoo
Story, The American Dream, Seascape,
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
In a speech in Mendelssohn Theatre
on Washington's birthday of this year,
Albee considered the qualities of

grip could create a masterpiece of the
same consummate worth.
GRANTED THAT art is solely the
province of the naked ape, we remain
stuck for a solid definition of same.
Again, I look to the playwright for
assistance: "It is the function of the
creative arts to hold up the mirror and
say to people, 'This is how you are. If
you don't like it, change it.' " The
deceitful marriage examined in

Art, then, remains as humanity's only inviolable realm. We disgrace
ourselves when we slap paint onto a whirling cardboard and assign it
that three letter word, or when any orangutan with a reasonably
strong grip could create a masterpiece of the same consumate worth.

humankind that separate us from the
lower primates and other allegedly less
intelligent animals:
* Emotion, once held to be the ex-
clusive province of Homo Sapiens, now
seems to be evident among the chim-
panzees Jane Goodall is studying in
. Complex and richly detailed
varieties of social organization can
easily be observed in species as mun-
dane as the common ant.
d Speech of a sort has been taught to
a female chimp who has in turn taught
her vocabulary to her offspring.
Art, then, remains as humanity's
only inviolable realm. We disgrace our-
selves, then, when we slap paint onto a
whirling cardboard and assign it that
three letter word, or when any
orangutan with a reasonably strong
s for fair?
So with Detroit area residents opting
to drive shorter distances, some who
would have headed north might instead
drive to nearby Ann Arbor and the art
AAA spokesman Tom Freel listed
several factors he believes contribute
to the tendency for vacationers to limit
their driving this year: less
"discretionary" income due to ram-
paging inflation, the relatively high
price of gas, "unfounded fears of
gasoline shortages," and the abnor-
mally cool weather at least in the early
weeks of the summer.

Virginia Woolf, then, would serve to
reflect the measure of neurosis and
unhappiness that plays a part in vir-
tually any coupling.
A playwright substantially less
realistically-oriented than Albee,
Eugene Ionesco The Bald Soprano, uses
the medium to mirror the foolish licen-
se we give words to color our behavior,
regardless of the thought, or lack of it,
that may be lurking behind the spoken
The wordless arts - dance, music,
painting and the other fine arts - echo
with the workings of the soul (yet
another elusive notion!) more subtly
than the wordy ones, but that they do
echo with introspection can scarcely be
denied. Music has been called a map of
the unconscious, and indeed, there does
seem to be something about the best
composers' work that speaks to us,

through the language of chords and
rhythm. Dance, perhaps, is the purest
of the arts, as the performer translates
his/her aural intake into the most basic
of impulses - movement. The work
done with palette and brush can move
its observers in a variety of ways - The
impressionist's dots of light stir
recognition in some inexplicably
mysterious fashion, while the
surrealists juxtapose the literal and
impossible for like effects via entirely
different avenues.
I'M STRAYING from the point -
none of this has anything to do with the
offal that offends the senses of those
who cling to the traditional definitions
of art. July's trashmongers produce
work that, instead of reaching to reflect
the human enigmas, stoops to
displaying the lowest common
denominator - it is simple-minded
rubbish from which everyone walks
away unprovoked, and from which no
one gleans any idea or passion.
"People don't want (introspection),"
Albee said late in his talk. "They want
the arts to be easy . .. Look at the state
of commercial television." Yes, do
look. And try to find a substantive dif-
ference between the Beverly Hillbillies
and the day-glo sea lions on State St.
Have a fine time these three days. I'll
be home browsing through my Matisse
prints. When you tire of the master-
works on the streets, you may join me.
Joshua Peck, the Summer Arts
Editor for the Daily, thinks pom-
pous is just another word for mag-

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