Recently the Newington-Cropsey Foundation awarded Tom Wolfe their annual Award for Excellence in the Arts. Frank Mason received this same award in 1999. Our friend and talented sculptor, Sabin Howard, with his wife, Traci Slatton, attended this award ceremony.
Traci Slatton is a brilliant writer who has recently written a book “Immortal” that Twin Star Entertainment just optioned for a feature film! Read her Blog about this special evening at the Newington-Cropsey Foundation and Tom Wolfe’s entertaining acceptance speach. Some of the subjects that came up reminded me of Mr. Wolfe’s speach at Frank Mason’s 2009 memorial service.
But what really floored me in Traci’s blog was the final paragraph. Busy organizing the events leading up to Frank’s memorial service, I must have overlooked this New York Times article written by Denis Dutton;
“We ought, then, to stop kidding ourselves that painstakingly developed artistic technique is passé, a value left over from our grandparents’ culture. Evidence is all around us. Even when we have lost contact with the social or religious ideas behind the arts of bygone civilizations, we are still able, as with the great bronzes or temples of Greece or ancient China, to respond directly to craftsmanship. The direct response to skill is what makes it possible to find beauty in many tribal arts even though we often know nothing about the beliefs of the people who created them. There is no place on earth where superlative technique in music and dance is not regarded as beautiful….Future generations, no longer engaged by our art “concepts” and unable to divine any special skill or emotional expression in the work, may lose interest in it as a medium for financial speculation and relegate it to the realm of historical curiosity.”
And once I started to snoop around for other articles by Denis Dutton, who recently passed away, I came across his insightful speech on Beauty – filmed by the TED network and illustrated by animator Andrew Park. You might ask what this has to do with Tom Wolfe and the Newington-Cropsey Foundation. Jasper Cropsey was a Hudson River School painter and I believe he would have agree with Mr. Dutton’s opinions on beauty. See for yourself.
TED collaborates with animator Andrew Park to illustrate Denis Dutton’s provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply “in the eye of the beholder,” are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.