Sunday, July 6, 2008

Flux Art and the Treehouse

As I was painting today, my mind was wandering a bit, thinking about various art movements of the twentieth century. Fluxism, or Flux art, was a movement which the general public doesn't really know about, much less understand. It began as anti-art, a mini-revolution against the abstract expressionism which ruled the mid-century art world. The "happenings" of the 1960's were a kind of flux art, where the audience in some way is involved with the creation of the art. Flux art was that of performance or participation. Often is is humorous and uncomplicated.

About ten years ago, I witnessed flux art being performed by a man who didn't even realize he was creating performance art. He was probably the most creative person I have ever known, though unsophisticated and unaware of his genius. His creativity was not planned to be creative, much less as works of art, and that is what made it genuine and real.

On my way home from work one early summer day, as I drove past his property just up the road from mine, I noticed that a very large tree which had stood sentinel at his driveway had been cut off about ten feet up from the ground. I thought the tree must have been diseased and was in the process of being cut down. However, every day for the following week, the tree remained the same. Then came the day when I noticed there was a wooden platform atop the tree trunk. Another week passed before anything else happened, and then a white plastic table was sitting on the platform. A few days later, a flower in a vase appeared on the table. The following week, a white plastic chair had been placed at the table. Needless to say, I was anxious every day to see how the treetop scenario had changed. I laughed aloud at each addition to the tree, but the last day was the best. As I drove past the tree, there was the creator of this art - sitting in the chair with his back to the road, reading a book. Now that is a really good example of flux art! I howled and laughed and I still laugh when I recall the entire event.

The whole thing actually ended up being a tree house for a fifty-year old man who never grew up, but had more creativity in his little finger than most of us who graduated from college with degrees in art. It was marvelous.
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