Fine Art vs Folk Art

The following is an expression of my own opinions about art. It is the reason why so many of the items posted to the Wild Raccoon Market are folk art. It is not an official definition of art forms. I am not an academically trained artist or curator. I am not an expert. Take it for what you will.

Fine Art vs Folk Art

Fine art lives behind locked doors. It is protected by security guards; secured by top-of-the-line electronics; properly insured and never, ever, touched.

Folk art lives in the doors themselves. It is the welcome sign hanging off to the side; the stern metal lion doorknocker; the door handle with fancy swirly designs made shiny and flat from many years of use.

Fine art stands inside the immaculate gardens of important places. It holds the weight of definition, the scales of elegance, in appropriately frozen poses. It is in the statues so imprinted with the weight of history and quality and prestige that no one dares mention the missing hands, arms and heads. Fine art does not change. It is there, holding it’s ground, for centuries of time.

Folk art stands in the shaggy gardens of common places. It holds the responsibilities of everyday priorities. In spring it is painted onto tall, almost-straight, discarded things, carefully marking sections of newly planted corn, peas and carrots. In summer it is the festive flags fluttering in the wind and the garden gnomes dancing with the rain. In fall it is carved out of pumpkins, stuffed into a scarecrow’s clothes and sewn into homemade costumes. In winter, it is made of snow, rolled into balls and decorated with old clothes, discarded vegetables and food coloring.

Fine art is a painting with a carefully constructed metal plaque describing who, what, when and why. It is the visual representation of those things we should know and must appreciate.

Folk art is a dusty side-note displayed in a dim room off a long hallway. It stands together in a case filled with it’s sisters, brothers and cousins; all sharing a single plaque between them. It is the primitive and traditional and crafts and handiwork selected from the sea of un-importance to stand forever within the reflected light of prestige. It is a comparison, a point of not-fine deemed fine-enough to illustrate what is truly fine. It is token.

Fine art is the very expensive and oh-so-proper painting hanging in the receiving room of an everyday home. The receiving room – the one room that is only entered when important, judgmental or stiff-necked folk come to call. It is precise, proper, dust-free and cold.

Folk art is the colorful, comfortable, painting hanging over the living room couch. It is the fairy swinging from the kitchen window. It is the candy dish that has been re-glued many times over because it was made by grandma and, therefore, comes out every holiday – just like grandma used to do.

Fine art is sold at high-profile auctions by white-gloved attendants. It is purchased by straight-backed collectors in designer suits who seriously participate in the investment driven bidding war.

Folk art is sold at community fundraisers by everyday artists wearing jeans and t-shirts. It is purchased by neighbors, who make selections while munching on homemade cookies and chatting about local events.

Fine art is the tapestry hanging on a castle wall.

Folk art is the quilt covering a child’s bed.

Fine art transforms a building into a museum. It takes a historic location and places the title of ‘curated’ upon it’s now-glorified head.

Folk art enters a place, warms the colors, softens the edges, and plays in the yard. It is the tipping point, the key element transforming a house into a home.

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