Saturday, October 31, 2009

A visit with Michael Geraghty and a long overdue reply to Artist Lee Welch

Just came across an image of this fantastic piece by An Te Liu from a project in Toronto. The Leona Drive project was a very temporary group project that took place this past October.

An Te Liu Title Deed 2009 / photo A. Sulikowsk

I received an email from Artist Lee Welch in response to my review of his show at the Galway Arts Centre the other day. You can read my review here, and here is Mr Welch's letter.

Hi Simon, I hope all is well. Just wanted to drop a few lines in regards to At the still point of the turning world. I am not sure what you felt like you were missing? Hitchcock is fairly main stream, no? You might have seen some of his movies. He dealt with suspense and psychological thrillers. This would be the first clue as to where things are going from there. Perec maybe you might not have read or heard about him. If not you should pick up one of his books really great stuff. Jorge Louis Borges will at this stage I feel like I am repeating myself here. All exhibitions have press releases, some artists have books about them. The fact the the more you know about any subject the better your understanding of it will become. So if we take Physics for example we may look at examples of it on a daily basis but if you do not know what to look for then you might not see it? To have a better understanding of Physics you read, study and experience it. I believe this applies to most subjects. You as the viewer expect certain things from an artwork and me as an artist expect certain things from my viewer. I think this is a fair exchange. It is like a conversation. So if I am speaking and my interlocutor is not participating then this is not an engaging conversation. Right? -- Best wishes, ––––––––––––––– Lee Welch

I was happy to hear from Mr. Welch even if he was a little disappointed in what I wrote. I still stand by what I wrote though. I believe that Mr Welch expects a lot from his viewers but what does the viewer get for this high expectation? As one of my colleagues put it, there just wasn't that a-ha moment. And for those who haven't read, studied and experienced contemporary and/or conceptual art, what can they expect? Those viewers who walk into the gallery off the street, the general population, not the students, artists or writers on art, but just regular people. I suspect Mr Welch doesn't care all that much for what the un-read masses get or don't get from his work. Don't get me wrong though, I do not want artists to dumb down or compromise their work for the sake of mass inclusion. Maybe that's unfair to ask of artists, to be all accessible. I am the first to admit a distaste for art that doesn't challenge or engage. So then, what am I asking? Obviously each show impacts the viewer relative to the context one views it in. In the end, I found Mr. Welch's show too vague, lacking substance and failed to provide that "ok, yeh I get it" moment.

On a completely unrelated topic, I had wonderful opportunity to explore Ireland a little more with the recent visit of my wife's parents. We looked for the location of an old family bit of land where a house had stood. The trip was something of an adventure. We ventured out to Killucan which is just west of Dublin. We were looking for a place called Lowtown house. Mind you this house no longer exist it was torn down during the 50's. So we proceeded to ask people around the area. One person lead to another. Until we were directed to the Brothers Geraghty. (Michael Geraghty is pictured below) I am mentioning it only because of the impact it has had on me. Sitting in Mr. Geraghty's home listening to him recount minute historical details of the area and the people made me keenly area of how little I know about my own back story. Some one needs to make a film about this guy.

Michael Geraghty, Historian and story teller/ photo S. Fleming

Thanks Shannon.