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Culture 2.0

Posted by kurtwood on August 21st, 2010


This past Tuesday I was in the city. Seattle, that is. I needed to leave the Island for an appointment, even though it was the height of summer and I am loathe to leave my sunny spot of a farm. As I had a few minutes to kill, I walked over to the Frye Art Museum, a few blocks from my tardy meeting.

The Frye is a relatively unique museum. It was founded at the turn of the earlier century by a wealthy Seattle industrialist. Actually he sold a lot of pork products. His new found wealth gave him the ability to purchase a trove of European paintings: some quite good, others rather dull.

Upon his death he willed his home and art collection to be a museum open to the public. Only a century later did it become an interesting vibrant place. Now it is my place of refuge in the city; calm, quiet and filled with some lovely paintings.

I spent the mid day walking among a great exhibition. I relished the Sydney Lawrence views of Alaska, enjoyed the lush Bougereau and was rather bored by the lesser Renoir. And then I stepped back into the middle of room and pondered the message as a whole.

Here were a dozen beautiful paintings — essentially no different than paintings created over the past thousand years. They represented our collective Euro culture. Scenes of daily life, the artists impressions of the world around us, snapshots into feels, emotions and vibes.

What I am most curious about is if this chapter of history has been eclipsed by our present digital, ephemeral world. I am trying to imagine an artist spending days, weeks, months creating a single, one off image. Even more unlikely is the idea that we will save and catalogue and display those unique, single images and cherish their vision.

We have moved to a time of scaling; of distributing information to the broadest possible audience, in the quickest amount of time. As I sat there in the middle of the gallery, the idea of a museum of our present generation looking anything like these fine canvases seemed distant and unlikely.

My pondering fiinished, I left the cool, calm Frye and headed back to the city, to the ferry and back to my verdant pastures.