Chairman's Message

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Chairman's Message

After the incredible high quality of last year's ARC Salon, I thought we would have a tough job for the next few years maintaining the depth, breadth and wide array of deeply rich and beautiful works of art found in that competition. I'm especially pleased to report that the growing number of great masterful artists working today seem to have had no problem rising to the occasion. So much is that the case that we just could not be restricted to the 600 finalists that we had last year. We had to once again expand the number of finalists all the way to 685, a nearly 15% increase and even then had some really hard decisions, so if any of those artists who did not rank as a finalist this year are reading this, please do not be disheartened. Many of those included this year tried out in prior years, and did not earn inclusion, but continued to enter new works until ranking in the top works submitted.

All over there are signs of representational fine art being recognized and included where before it was not. Visual fine art is best understood as a language; a visual language that was developed as a means of communication. Very much like spoken and written languages it is successful if communication takes place and it is unsuccessful if it does not. So fine art is a way that human beings can communicate our shared humanity and it is the most successful when consummate skill focuses on life's emotionally charged moments and does so with poetry beauty and grace. Since communication is the goal, it is therefore necessary that this visual language, much like spoken and written languages must have a vocabulary and a grammar which is shared and understood by the teller and listener. The earliest forms of written languages used simple drawings of real objects to represent those objects. That makes the origins of written language overlap in a nearly identical way to the origins of fine art. The vocabulary of art's visual language are realistic images which we see around us in life, and the grammar are the rules and skills needed to orderly and believably render the images. Rules of grammar are things like finding contours; modeling; create shadows and highlights with the use of glazing and scumbling which create light and atmosphere through layers of pigment; use of selective focus; perspective; foreshortening; compositional balance; warm and cool color; lost and found shapes and lines, etc.

So, there we have it, the core concept that explains what fine art is. It is a visual language which is capable of expressing the endless range of thoughts and ideas which can also be expressed in great literature and poetry. However, unlike the hundreds of spoken and written languages, the vocabulary of traditional realism in fine art has something which makes it unique, in one important way ... the language of traditional realism cuts across all those other languages and can be understood by all people everywhere on earth, regardless of what language it is they speak or write in. Thus Realism is a universal language that enables communication with all people and to people of all times.

So all you artists who have entered the ARC salon. Never doubt the value of what you are doing. You are all playing a part in saving for mankind our one universal language which the Modern Art Establishment nearly destroyed. You are bringing back and reasserting one of humankind's most important civilizing methods which can help break down the walls that keep people of different origins and languages feeling apart, breakage down suspicion and distrust due to the inability to communicate.

You are all helping to fill the world with beauty instead of ugliness. Used in this way, beauty does not mean pretty. Beauty can capture pain, sorrow and corruption as well as life's uplifting moments of joy and happiness. Great fine art is visual poetry which releases negative feelings in constructive, calming, thoughtful ways. Self-conscious ugliness irritates and provokes. Beauty helps to make life worth living while nurtures charity in the heart, kindness in the soul and cultivates a generosity of spirit. Ugliness engenders contempt and it is painful to behold. Much of the art of the past century is laced with decay and disorder.

People steeped in that which is vile, corrupt and chaotic also want to share it with others, for misery too loves company.

ARC and the thousands of artists who work with us are working to reinstate values and understanding between men and women from every background and origin. We are tirelessly working to bring beauty and poetry and the respect and appreciation of all people back into our schools our institutions, our museum and the walls of our homes. Ultimately, Realism is about humanity and one cannot help solve humanities problems by banning human subject matter from one of mankind's greatest creative occupations, the visual fine arts of drawing painting and sculpture. If you surround yourself with fine art you are every day reminded of your humanity.

Frederick C. Ross
Chairman, Art Renewal Center