if Art is like Science then it has universal foundations (truth, if you will) which underpin it and may be reliably demonstrated repeatedly. If Art is like Religion then it has belief which supports it but lacks universality because Religion is faith-based and therefore not subject to the rigors of experimental method. When I began to paint in Seattle it was my desire to answer for myself which of these two Children of Philosophy to which Art was most closely related. I am still working on my answer, but 20 years of painting and thinking experimentally has taught me that the question, “what is Art?” is not a foolish one, and only fools believe it so.
After leaving the New York theater scene I eventually ended up in Seattle. By the nineties all I had left of Theater in me was a 50 character hangover and the idea that there was such a thing as a master artist. You know, a master artist, one to whom nothing matters but forwarding the state-of-the-art. A person who spends every erg of their available energy to change the nature of the system which contains them by mastering through performing as an operator of all aspects of that system. In Theater they talk about the master artist a lot but you somehow never get to meet one. Instead people who start somewhere doing something tend remain that way or if you prefer Physics say energy tends to be conserved.
In Seattle I was surrounded by artists from the University of Washington and the Cornish School. They did not seem to believe in the master artist. By and large they were religious about their art, preferring it not be questioned. I angered many by asking the meaning of art – not theirs in particular, just art in general. I was told repeatedly such things were ineffable and unknowable. I was taught to profit from art was to cheapen oneself. I was told art was therapy. I was told art was emotion. I was shown art as a way of life by a large, shifting group of university-educated self-loathing atheists.