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What is art?

What are the arts? What is media? Ask ten people those questions and you will get ten very different answers; but that almost seems inherent. Definitions are often subjective. Especially when you are talking about visual arts, theatre, dancing, music, magazines, books, television and film. Throw in the word "GAY" and the quandary becomes nearly impossible to solve.

Art involves style. A Vera Wang gown is a work of art. A Bridesmaid dress is not a work of art until it has been placed in an ironic context by a struggling crack head that got a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Art involves passion. A carefully cooked meal involving technique, research and skill is a work of art. A McDonald’s hamburger is not art, unless a Happy Meal box that contains a kitsch toy accompanies the sandwich – then, and only then, it becomes commercial art.

Art is a matter of personal taste. Uncle Donald and Aunt Josephine love TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL. To them, that is art and they wouldn’t miss it for the world. You are an informed, vibrant, empowered gay man. Your taste runs to ANGELS TOUCHING THEMSELVES.

We live in new times. Rules are constantly changing at a rate that is unprecedented. According to TIME Magazine, human cloning is just around the corner. The Internet is changing the way we communicate, socialize and transact business. John Goodman played a gay character. What the hell is going on here? Nothing is sacred anymore.

That is where the arts and media come to the rescue. They create a perspective, a reflection that helps us through the confusion. They inspire us to understand our lives better. We, collectively, define what is art and what is not.

The Mullet – not art.

The Olsen Twins – not art.

Broson Pinchot – art, glorious art. Sexy Art. But, I am the only one that seems to feel that way, which makes my irrational attraction even better.

Clearly art is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of this column, the beholder shall be me, Greg Triggs, Drama Queen. For those that care about such things, I have the prerequisite qualifications. For the last fifteen years I have worked as a professional actor, director and writer. I have done bad television and good theatre. My boyfriend is a sculptor. I am opinionated and love attention. I have every right to analyze the arts. We all do as far as I am concerned, because the audience always evaluates that which is offered up by artists who, in turn, evaluate us.

When I was a little boy, my Grandmother had the world’s ugliest kitchen clock. My sister Susan, an exotic dancer, hated it and told my Grandma that every chance she could. Every Christmas Susan would buy her a new, shiny, 1970’s modern timepiece. The next day you would go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house and the old clock would still be there. When she died years later there was a huge stack of by then retro clocks in her basement.

But, before she died my Grandma and I had a little talk. I was the one that she confided in. That was my role as the gay grandson. She was putting one of the many clocks away. Grandma was chuckling and I asked her why. Why was she laughing? Why didn’t she use one of the many clocks that my sister was stripping for strangers to pay for?

There, in that dusty basement, my Grandma told me something that helped define the arts for me. Phyllis Tinkum Triggs, dead now for almost twenty five years, patiently explained that her greasy, unfashionable red clock with the frayed cord was the last Christmas present that her father had ever given her and that looking at that ugly thing gave her joy. So there it would stay on her light blue wall until the day she died. To her, the clock was art. Then she thanked me for asking her. No one else had paid her that courtesy.

That day I decided to be the kind of person that would continue to ask and read and learn and tell stories. For me, that is what defines good art. That is what you can expect this column to be. Now if you’ll excuse me, according to my ugly red clock on the wall, it is time for me to get to work.



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