Art for the Tender of Heart
By Gala Bent
Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Danielson Heart (Via)

The scales of contemporary art, in all of their massive tentacled complexity, are not tipped in the direction of sincere pathos. And no wonder… it’s really difficult to make work that is tenderhearted and not cheesy. In honor of Valentine’s Day, a mini-list of artists who have ridden that line gracefully:

Harrell Fletcher: His whole oeuvre can be considered to be a celebration of the peculiarities of being human–individually and in community–but one of my favorites is his video “The Sound We Make Together.”  A description from his website:

I had various groups of people from Houston: a baptist choir, a meditation class, a break dance group, dogs from a dog park, and ten other groups doing what they normally do but in the gallery space. The video projection sort of recreated them being there one after another.

Nola Avienne:  In a recent project, The Donor Wall, Nola gently and expertly drew blood from a long list of artists and made lovely monochromatic paintings out of each sample.  Straight from the heart.

Lee Mingwei:  I appreciate the simple and poetic effect of pieces like The Mending Project, in which gallery guests brought ripped items that the artist mended with brightly colored thread, or The Dining Project, where he made a meal for and dined with one stranger per day.

Lee Mingwei. The Dining Project. 1997. Installation view. Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, New York. Photo: Charly Wittock

You Are Beautiful: I wrote about this collective endeavor here, a little while ago.

Peter Bonde Becker Nelson:  PBBN’s video performances are an exercise in empathy.  Nine Monologues, for example, has him carefully lip-synching the voices of women describing femininity.  If the truest of true love is being other-centered, the proverbial walk in someone else’s shoes is a step in the right direction.

Gala Bent is a mother-artist-teacher living in Seattle who enjoys, among other things, this thought: between thesis and antithesis arcs the ever-loving synthesis. www.galabent.com

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