Sunday, June 25, 2017

Earth Wihtout Art is Just... EH!!

A Tiny Pirate in the Caribbean Art  Piece Lifestyle Cabarete Blog Series VoicesI can’t remember where I read the above line, as I would otherwise credit its genius creator. So if any of you know who made that descriptively clever connection please let me know as Google is not proving very helpful! As I sat down to write my blog, the words flashed up in my mind as all unique or interesting art tends to, and thus it became the perfect title for my Tiny Pirate wordsmithing this week.

I’m finally back in Cabarete after almost five months of being away, and the utter delight I feel about being home has been enhanced by the incredible array of graffiti that I’m seeing proudly displayed across our little town. For those of you who don’t know this, Cabarete possesses a huge number of gifted artists in relation to its relatively small population of around 38,000. In addition to globally feted athletes, this little strip of sand nurtures fierce talent across music, art, writing and more. It’s an idyllic bohemian retreat. For me personally, I am now on novel number three, which I can only attribute to the town’s creativity-fuelling setting, and my kick-a*s and inspiring group of writers, whose ridiculous capabilities make me want to work at my craft each day.

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Looking at our newly- decorated town reminded me of the last two galleries I visited on my recent travels- the Tate Modern in London back in December, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in January. All thousands of miles away from eachother and Cabarete, but bound together by the same underlying message – artists representing the collective thoughts of a nation.

Art, whilst being subjective, can also be representative of a snapshot of time. Like a colourful and poignant photograph, we can look back at a piece of art and see where the artists’ head was at the time in relation to what was happening in a socio-political setting. ‘The World goes Pop’ exhibition I attended in London was fascinating not just because of the content, but also because the gallery had curated a wide-ranging number of exhibits from the furthermost southern point in Latin America through to Eastern Europe, Asia and everywhere else in between. Some of the collections dated back to the early 1900’s, and I was thrilled to discover a couple of Colombian artists whose provocative works were produced in 1965, a time of such colossal social unrest which was a precursor to the last 50 years of the violent conflict in the country, which is mercifully abating now.

Other works came from early to mid last century, and it struck me how much they were related to the pieces in the Minneapolis Art Centre when I eventually visited. Racism, the exploitation of migrant workers, police and state violence, the greed of corporations and corrupt governments, sexual objectification or empowerment of women, environmental issues…these and other social topics have been an ongoing inspiration for artists across decades and cultures. I saw these very themes highlighted in graffiti form when I came back to Cabarete, and whilst I adore seeing such vibrant colour across our walls, I also despair that no one is listening if the world and it’s creative communities are having to repeat the same message over and over again.

When are we going to finally wake up to what we are destroying? When do we collectively rise up against tyranny, injustices and inequalities? Why are artists, culturally apart and across several decades still creating pastiches of our socio-economic ills, which have clearly never been resolved? Any art form by its very nature has, at its root, an emotional aspect. That is why art can be used so well to connect across all communal spectrums, and why artists come from wide ranging backgrounds. There are no social boundaries when it comes to creative expression, and some of the most iconic artists across all disciplines have risen up from the most humble of beginnings.

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I am a huge supporter of artists, especially those who can make me feel a strong emotion with the power of their craftsmanship. My own painting abilities extend to drawing stick men, specially when I am in foreign lands and I’m trying to communicate, so I am in total awe of anyone that can express something in a beautifully effective way. Art as a form of protest therefore, has been a constant in our lives which we perhaps don’t appreciate enough. As long as painting, writing and music have existed, these mediums have provided useful tools and peaceful platforms with which to demonstrate.

A Tiny Pirate In The Caribbean Lifestyle Cabarete Blog Series VoicesDid you know that Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ as a form of protest against the deep social inequality he saw in Victorian England? Fredrick Douglass’ ‘Narrative of the Life’ became a literary heavyweight, and his account of being held in bondage helped to eventually abolish slavery. These and endless tomes have helped to reform and change many aspects of misogyny, racism, homophobia and other unacceptable forms of oppression.

Timeless and enduring songs such as John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’, Prince’s ‘Sign o’ the Times’ and ‘Baltimore’, Billie Holliday’s ‘Strange Fruit,’ and protest-song king Bob Dylan’s ‘ Times they are a- changin’ and infinite others have effectively reached millions across the world with their influential messages. These types of protest can sometimes be more effective and profound than any acts of mass violence, which those being protested about use against the ones screaming for social change and equality.

Two other impressionable artists spring to mind, and whose recent works have also impacted immensely. Jorge Julian Aristizabal’s ‘Falsos Positivos,’ which I saw displayed in Medellin last November, and who I urge you to google because his message of corrupt government and military operations in Colombia is devastating. On a lighter satirical yet an intelligent social commentator tip, graffiti artist Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’ exhibition was another highlight for me last year because of it’s ferocious yet humorous observations. Which brings me back to our talented graffiti artists in town. Their work inspired me to write this blog, and sparked a series of art memories of my last few months. Their subjects have been topics I have been seeing depicted artistically around the world recently, and which are all connected to our global struggles.

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How stunning that art in its many forms can be the entity that connects us, no matter where in the world we are. Whoever you are, and wherever you are, THANK YOU for brightening up our town with wonderful and inspirational kaleidoscopes of life. For those of you who are here, go and check out these displays, take photos and share…because by supporting artists they can continue to use our struggles as a canvas for their expression and our ultimate benefit.

I hope you now go and read/watch/listen to new material and find it’s deeper meaning. If not, get your creative juices flowing and produce your very own masterpiece. Art and music therapy works!

Toodle pip until next time you budding Picassos! ☺

Claud X * O

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All photos: Claudia Avila-Batchelor

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