As I sat down at the “Origins of the Montreal Underground Music Scene 1965-1975” at Pop Montreal a couple of months back, it really opened my ears to a lot of good stories and history about Montreal. Goodness! Montreal has a lot of stories. I was definitely willing to go back into time to witness for myself. It seemed in the 60’s and 70’s, Montreal was in a whirlwind, an artists’ city- still is but back then,the world was shifting. Artists were very prominent as idealistic leaders whether or not they were physically in the fore-front of crowd lines. This term came to me: Free Art vs. Produced Art. “Free” does not mean necessarily $Free.99, it just means the free exchange of ideas; a musicians’ network as you may, where you find live music at various venues, giving to the people, musicians and spectators alike, goodness like handing out free candy. Such culture!
Conceptual Art. There is such a category that exists but of course I’m using the term to my own liking. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (rather dry) is: an art form in which the artist’s intent is to convey a concept rather than to create an art object. Or this Guggenheim definition (I like better) is: conceptual art is based on the notion that the essence of art is an idea, or concept, and may exist distinct from and in the absence of an object as its representation. Right! While this world is obsessed with the product you make and your success is defined by it, this definition of art is refreshing to hear, let alone, grasp. We take for granted all artists produce art from their “soul” as if every time we make something we are bleeding from the wrists! We can look outside and on media and know there are different reasons why art is produced. The definition frames the perspective that the idea is bigger than the artwork because it came first and thus the product is just a broken down, if not, digestible manifestation of the idea. Something I think true artists innately strive to express; our goal is the artwork to replicate as close as possible the idea. Some may argue artwork can’t be perfect since ideas and concepts are beyond 3D or some may say artwork is perfect no? Not by the product but by if the message/concept is conveyed through it.
All that to say, I wish I was born in the 60’s and 70’s so I could have seen for myself first hand the movement of free expression that not only effected music and art but the world. It seemed boxes were being broken and art was authentic. It is no wonder why ’til this day, we still look up to the musicians that reigned back then even when they have already passed on but again, the message is prevalent and stays the same, which again, is why we love them as artists and remember what they have given. The Civil Rights, the Anti-War Movement, and Feminine Rights to name a few, were some of the ingredients to make a time that can never be duplicated.
So with all that said, get your mind right.
“It’s his ideas that make the man and we all know to be human is a work of art!”
Featured Picture is a Ernie Barnes Painting called the Sugar Shack. No copyright intended.