Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some Thoughts on Art:

I am reading a book on the art of Sandy Scott, by Scott and Susan Hallsten McGerry. Sandy Scott is the Artist who created my first great acquisition of fine art. I must admit that when I found my treasure to be the work of a woman, I was a little disappointed. Not from any negative feelings toward women, but because I thought that it might be hard to identify with, and thus be inspired in my quest to be an Artist by, a woman. I was so wrong. I feel such a kinship with Ms. Scott. I am so grateful that my good friend, Jeff Wilcox, who sold me the art, also gave me Sandy Scott's book. Here are two quotes from Susan McGerry's chapter intros. which inspire me. Ms. Scott 's own words are even more moving, but I will have to present them later and in better context, when I have more time.

  1. “Art is a human activity, whose purpose is the transmission of the highest and best feelings to which human beings have attained.” Leo Tolstoy, Russian Author.

  1. “Take any man and develop his mind and soul and heart to the fullest by the right work and the right study and then let him find through his training the utmost freedom of expression. For a man ceases to imitate when he has achieved the power to express fully and freely his own ides.” Robert Henri, American Artist.

Perhaps it would not be out of line to claim that my Art, for now, is Boy Scout Camp: Camp Friends, and Highland Games, So Many Songs, Legends, and Ceremonies, Shared Experiences, Round Tables, Flag Ceremonies, Campfires, Hikes, and Advancement; Fitness, Citizenship, and Character Development, Duty to God, Country, Others, and Self; the Game of Scouting.

For any successes I have had, I am indebted to the great men who showed me the way, and who taught me the craft in such a way that I can presume to present my efforts as my own. I owe it all to my “Masters.” I remember a Japanese puppeteer's admonition, though I doubt I can ever achieve it. He said, surpassing one's master repays the debt for what he has given you. My masters include my father and mother, Jed Stringham, Darrel Budd, Hal Johnston, Vern Dunn, Vern Spencer and Winston Nelson, Dick Whitney, Rullon Skinner, Ken Cole, Gunner Burg, Tom Bird, Karlo Mustonen, the founders - Ernest Seton, and Dan Beard, Baden Powell, and many more. Their names should not be forgotten. I have also learned much from many younger colleagues including: Leonard Hawkes, Lynn and Scott Hinrichs, Curtis Grow, Jeff Curtis, Doug Hopper, Jody Orme, Trent Warner; just to name a few.

As I consider the contributions of my Masters, I find Sandy Scott's observations on sculpture particularly relevant.

"It is inexcusable for an artist working today not to know and study the finest examples of sculpture handed down through the ages -- to be aware of what was done before. Basic and time-honored artistic principles will always stand up as the taste of the times and look of the day change." (pg. 104)

When I went to Cherry Valley, back in 1995, the previous Director asked me what my "theme" was going to be. "Boy Scouts," I replied. He seemed sceptical; Boy Scouts was old fashioned. I note, his camp, for all its modern themes and its stellar location, was empty; in danger of being closed forever. But we brought back the "old fashoned stuff" and Cherry Valley is still full today. Its themes, the time-honored principles of Boy Scouting, the wisdom of the Masters.

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