Jan 4 2012

#249 Less is More (4)


From a stranger in North Carolina

I know this is the second Klosterman quotation in a row, but bear with me…

The Transformation Hypothetical:

Assume everything about your musical tastes was reversed overnight. Everything you once loved, you now hate; everything you once hated, you now love. For example, if your favorite band has always been R.E.M., they will suddenly sound awful to you; they will become the band you dislike the most. By the same token, if you’ve never been remotely interested in the work of Yes and Jethro Tull, those two groups will instantly seem fascinating. If you generally dislike jazz today, you’ll generally like jazz tomorrow. If you currently consider the first album by Veruca Salt to be slightly above average, you will abruptly find it to be slightly below average. Everything will become its opposite, but everything will remain in balance (and the rest of your personality will remain unchanged). So- in all likelihood- you won’t love music any less (or any more) than you do right now. There will still be artists you love and who make you happy; they will merely be all the artists you currently find unlistenable.

Now, I concede that this transformation would make you unhappy.
But explain why.

~ Chuck Klosterman (Chuck Klosterman IV)



Dec 21 2011

#235 “Criticism”

From “Mezofoprezo” in Jacksonville, Florida

On a few previous occasions I have lamented the fact that so many artists who submit their work to WBS seem to be disappointed with the results of their own efforts. In my opinion, any and every artistic venture should be rewarded with unabashed praise. I can understand people’s reservations, though; when you create art, you take a great risk. You inherently place yourself at the mercy of the criticism of others, and for some strange reason, the opinions of people who judge our art (regardless of their authority, intellect or character) always seem to matter dearly to us. This is why I have always taken it upon myself to make sure that my comments about a contributor’s art are always positive and uplifting. I don’t do this for the sake of pity or to spare anyone’s feelings. I do it because it is right, and I do it because all art is worthy of admiration. And also, I do it because it’s easy. Hundreds of people from all over the world have sent me illustrations of wolves for no other reason besides the fact that I asked for it. How in the world could I be disappointed or critical of any picture that I receive? I simply don’t think it’s possible. Oh, and by the way, I have had people ask me before, “Do you really mean all the things that you say about the pictures on your website?” The answer to that question, my friends is “Absolutely.”

Also, the fact that I am not an artist myself allows me to appreciate the artistic attempts of others all the more. The collecting of art is way for me to live vicariously through a whole host of imaginative creators from all over the globe. I get to live a hundred lives in one. So to all of you out there who have been hurt or offended by the words of an overly harsh critic in the past, please allow me to offer my support and encouragement. Your work will always have a home here at wolvesbystrangers.com. Also, before I wrap things up, I think it’s only appropriate to send a special message of gratitude to “Mezofoprezo.” This wolf is far from “crappy,” my friend. It is unique and wonderful. It is playful and whimsical. It is has personality and flare. I love it. It is a representation of you, and you are a very special person.

Nov 15 2011

#199 “Praiseworthy”

From a stranger in Brooklyn, New York

It always hurts my heart a little bit whenever I encounter a piece of artwork that the artist seems to feel the need to apologize for. Just the fact that an individual has taken pen to paper and created something unique and original should be enough to illicit praise and admiration from all of us. Producing art is always an action that is risky, and simply because we live in a society that says to us that “anything but the best is worthless” doesn’t make that statement true.

I quite admire this wolf. I think it’s interesting and unique and that it has a certain flare which is fun, optimistic, and hopeful. Yes. I like it. I like it alot, and I certainly do not think it “sucks.”

So to you, stranger in Brooklyn, I encourage you to take to heart the words below once said by John Steinbeck, and I urge you to keep your head up and be proud of everything you do. It’s so easy to live life in the shadows without taking risks, but you have stepped out into the sunshine, and the results of your labors are truly magnificent.

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unmitigated praise,
I say forget the bastard.”

~ John Steinbeck

Oct 16 2011

#169 “Definitions”

From Nick, a wandering drifter…

It is not uncommon for discoverers of this project to label it with a wide variety of terms. Words ranging from “awesome” to “weird” are commonly attributed to this social experiment of sorts, and to be honest, I find just about all of these classifications to be fairly accurate. To the modern wolf enthusiast, there are no doubt certain aspects of WBS that would inspire awe, but to those without a proper appreciation for the lobo, I can also understand that this project would seem very bizarre.

Of all the assessments and descriptions of this website that I have ever experienced, however, I would have to say that the words of Nick in a recent email are the most unique and definitely the most perplexing. Here is what this lupine-loving vagabond had to say:

“Wolves by strangers is theĀ beginningĀ of the Post-post modernist art movement and will be remembered as the grandfather of Dadaism in the digital era.”

I’ll be honest, I was floored when I read this description, but not necessarily because I disagreed with it. I was simply unaware that someone might read so deeply into this project that they would define it with these somewhat ambitious terms. Also, I was a bit taken back because although Dadaism and Post-post modern art are movements that I am familiar with, I wasn’t quite sure if these classifications were totally accurate. I felt that I must either validate or deny these claims, and in order to do so, I would have to become strangely introspective.

As far as the reference to Dadaism is concerned, I agree with this analysis in some respects and disagree in others. Unlike Dadaism, I do believe that this project is (to a certain degree) concerned with aesthetics. But then again, aesthetics are largely in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s sense of beauty can be vastly different than that of another. Also, I don’t necessary believe that this project rejects logic or the idea of the bourgeois and their controlling power, but I do believe that the artwork displayed here often does embrace chaos and irrationality and that very often the prevailing ideas of what is traditionally considered to be “art” are cast by the wayside.

Whether or not this project adheres to any of the prevalent ideas of Post-post modernism may be even more difficult to analyze, particularly because we are currently living in the early developmental stages of this growing epoch. However, if we look at the major theme of Post-post modernism as being closely tied to the idea that faith, trust, dialogue, performance and sincerity can work to transcend postmodern irony, then I believe we may be on to something.

So, what conclusion have we reached in the end? I believe it is the one that we knew would be waiting for us all this time: the wolf is all things to all people. It is undefinable and magically transcendent. Whether your work is marvelously minimal (such as the piece that Nick has so graciously bestowed upon us) or is deeply intricate and complex, the spirit of the wolf lies within them all. And in the end this is really all that matters.

But we can’t leave the discussion without tipping our hats to Nick who started this whole ball rolling. Thanks, Nick, for turning on our thinking caps. We certainly need it from time to time. Also, as I compose these final sentences, I am reminded of the words of the famous British playwright George Bernard Shaw who wrote, “All good art is didactic.” If that’s all we know, then for now I think that is enough, and one more thing’s for sure: Nick’s work here today has certainly been more didactic than I think any of us anticipated.

Thanks again, Nick.