Can art be separated from its creators?

False Idols - 022814

I read a dark humored piece at The Onion concerning the recent trials and tribulations of Woody Allen and the allegations by Mia Farrow's daughter, Dylan about his sexually abusing her as a child*.  In this satirical piece, the Onion makes us confront a difficult question - how do we reconcile our appreciation of Allen's creative greatness and the quandary his alleged actions puts his fans and supporters in? I recently read a piece about a similar conundrum about appreciating the musical production genius of Phil Spector while contending with his sick masochistic nature.  My internal question is, can we still appreciate their art?

There are multiple artists in most genres that have created critically acclaimed art that was tarnished by their actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc. Along with Spector and Allen, Roman Polanski fled to exile to avoid a trial for raping a 13 year old girl.  Polanski also created the masterpiece, Chinatown. I still relish watching that movie, but wonder if I should watch it due to Polanski's history.

Maybe there are two questions.  First, can someone be redeemed by their art?  Second, if they can't be redeemed by it, can we still appreciate it as its own entity while not heaping praise upon its creators?

I believe in redemption, but it comes from actions to mediate and remedy the sins.  The guilty must make amends before redemption.  From what I've seem, none of these accused have taken a step toward redemption through their art.  So, that answers the first question.

Should we separate art from the artists?  When I create art, most of the pieces have no title and at most a brief artist statement on the series.  I don't have a reputation beyond a few friends and fellow artists, so my art is not viewed and commented on as a piece by Karl, but just what the viewer sees, feels, interprets, and comments upon.  I greatly appreciate hearing feedback on my art without my name tinting the view.  When I am the consumer of the art, I enjoy taking it in without being influenced by the artist's legend following it.  By doing that, I can better relate to it and find my own meaning.  Sadly though, when the creator has a big reputation, regardless if it is good or bad, will influence my reception of the art.  Even more sad, I will have to try to account for his/her sins when consuming the art.

So is there any way to view art this way and appreciate it?  I may have found a way by actually bringing the artist into it.  I plan to start looking into the art to see if the artist's sins can be found in their creations.  I am not trying to be an investigator or anything, but trying to understand if some elements of what makes him/her evil lives in the art.  By looking how evil either explicitly or subtly gets into art we may be able to learn where our own sins seep out of us.

* Woody Allen has not been convicted of the allegations brought against him in this post. 


Personal choices on grooming

Karl - 021314

In my last post, I revisited an old post from my old blog about comments I received concerning a model I photographed and her pubic and underarm hair.  Today, I want to share a bit about my own journey with hair grooming and how society views it and the tough challenges I have had against it.

During my late teens until I started a new job that made it difficult to have, I had a mustache.  I grew it in college so I wouldn't be carded when hitting the bars.  I kept it for twelve years out of the habit and routine of having it.

In 1999, I was thirty and had just started a job in the manufacturing area of a biotech pharmaceutical.  They had no rules against facial hair, but because of having one I had to wear a beard/mustache cover while on the near sterile manufacturing floor for up to 10 hours at a time.  I soon decided to shave it off for comfort.  My wife had not seen me without a mustache and it took her a bit of time to stop staring at my top lip.

For the next 14 years, I happily remained clean shaven (except for a brief experiment with a goatee).  Last fall, we had a Halloween party at work and the theme was TV characters.  With my love for the show, Breaking Bad, I grew a beard and mustache, then trimmed it to match Walter White's menacing facial hair.  While growing it, I started to get some compliments from a number of women and a few men.  After the party, I promptly shaved it all off, with instant regret.  My unique face went back to being unremarkable in anyway.

In December, I started growing it back and am happy I did.  Not everyone shares in those feelings.  Some friends and family tease me (which I do not mind and often laugh with).  One relative said if her dog saw me, she would give me the "DANGER STRANGER" bark.  Other friends teased that I look like Grizzly Adams.  One gay friend said that I became an instant hot straight bear.  Rawr!.

Not all of the receptions of my beard have been so warm.  My dad worries that I don't look professional anymore.  One manager at work (not in my chain of command) asked, "So, are you really thinking of keeping that?"

All of these slights and hardships are a joke, really.  I haven't gone through a the tiniest fraction of what others have had to endure due to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and many other differences that can not be accepted by other.  My beard is truly a choice, my age isn't.  My gay friends didn't have a choice, nor all of us that are growing older every moment we breath.  So everyone, quit hurting others just because they are older or younger than what you consider the norms, love someone that you can't, or are not of your gender, faith, or race.

PS - I am keeping my Hemingway beard.

PPS - In high school, I went as a "beard" to a spring prom with a friend who is lesbian.  She and I went out of friendship and wanting to ride in a really cool limo.  It is kind of sad I didn't have a romantic date, but it was tragic she couldn't be her true self and go with her girlfriend.