Monday, June 6, 2011
Class, our guest today is Fred Babb
Fred Babb's art makes noise. In a lock-step world it is subversive. He, and all of his ilk, the troublemakers, give hope to us who grow furrowed and tense, seeing creativity leached from our schools and the once green fields of our lives.
Though he died in 2006, he and his work remain vibrant and essential to any who fear we may have bureaucratic laryngitis, the silencing of voices which even hint at freedom of expression.
His only, as far as I know, book is a collection of posters called Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff. It is available at Amazon, at prices rather higher than the $15.95 - new - I paid for it, and worth, pretty much, whatever it takes.
At one time he had a gallery/shop in Cambria, California, called What Iz Art? where the white paper bags into which one's purchases were tucked had Babb's words and images stamped and drawn on them. His book, subtitled "Paintings and Essays," seems aimed particularly at children or the people who have power over their destinies. Its messages are equally fierce, too, for all of us who ever pull back into our caves of reticence, of uncertainty, of not feeling courageous enough to be as odd on the outside as we feel within.
I find similarities between his views of what will create whole children and those of Lynda Barry. The illustration which leads to the book's section called "Kids and Art," says, "Art is what kids do to survive in an authoritarian society." Being grown-up does not, of itself, make us free; sometimes what is does is shrink the box into which we have tried to fit.
Babb wrote, "I once read in a short story, 'Time is an abstraction devised by man to regulate the illusion he calls reality.' If this is true, we should be able to unmake time. The ARTs provide the means for this un-doing.
"Many artists appear to exist in a different time zone than other people. We are accused of being 'spaced-out' and detached. But in reality we suffer from a permanent case of jet lag."
The term "art," as I use it today, means anything that allows access to what has been trapped in our minds and hearts and has started kicking out the windows, trying to escape. Fred Babb has gathered piles of old sheets for us and knotted them together. The drop is not as far as it looks.
(Art and quotes are the copyrighted property of Freb Babb.)