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Response this article in The Stranger.
This is a response to Eric Fredricksen's misplaced angst in his terminally
hip diatribe "Culture Wars" in a recent issue. While I have no doubt that
Eric has "taste" i.e. "he knows what he likes" like most denizens of the
relativist-onanist square dance we call contemporary art couldn't tell
culture from a career move.
Culture is about places not personalities. It's about cyclic themes that
resonate. It's an evolved note, a bell tone between people and place. It's
about practice not celebrity. It's local context digesting history. (Eric's
notion about Holloway and the socialist realism WTO mural had merit in this
Eric was culturally indiscriminate, lumping New York, Chicago and Seattle in
his parade send-up. New York's cows are a dismal failure because cows don't
belong in New York; they were a tourist hustle and people know it. Chicago's
cows were a success because of the historic stockyards, (the cows were
echoic ghosts) and a good concept, (give all the proceeds to charities).
Eric was right, some of the Chicago art was kitschy but it works as culture
because it served as a neighborhood mirror. It quickened a cultural question
"where in the world are we?"
The good news, Eric, is that salmon are in Seattle. The Soul Salmon 2001
project unveiled its fundraising raffle salmon sculpture at the Stonington
Gallery early in August. It's a naturalistic female Coho reinterpreted by
Northwest carvers Steve Brown, Loren White and Joe David who know culture
from kitsch! And Bumbershoot, who is always ahead of the curve, will show
ten more Soul Salmon at this fall's festival reimagined by ten notable
Northwest artists. Not surprisingly, communities around Puget Sound are
interested in Soul Salmon, which are to be displayed regionally in 2001. All
proceeds are to benefit salmon restoration or other charities chosen by each
Culture is the art-ticulated story of life here. (Though I suspect the
post-modern imagination may have been digitally abraded into the delusion
that here is everywhere/anywhere and hence, nowhere.) Culture is about
relations and not relativist rants. Salmon is the perennial inspiration of
life in the Northwest; salmon are in the soil, they are the tilth of our
imagination. Culture is not an ironic invention; it's a blossom, a local
blossom. The word culture comes from Latin colere - cultus - to till the
soil to walk around a place. So remember the next time you pick up the
kitsching sink, culture isn't witty punctums, it's turning the ancestors up
into the light so they may bloom. We're all here together, whether we like
it or not.
Thomas E. Jay, Chimacum, WA
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