Ordinary Sunday Brunch


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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38 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    A1: I’m not buying it. D&D artwork might be selling for more money because we have a class of affluent people willing to spend money on it. That doesn’t mean its respected. Respect in the art world comes when important museums put on an exhibit on fantasy art. As far as I’m aware of, not even local museums have done so. Art critics and scholars do not study D&D art. The type of money it sells for is still very low by art market standards even if it is high by ordinary standards. To go full snob, many people in the art world would describe and deride the D&D artists as illustrators.

    A few years ago, a few serious art critics decided to tackle the work of Thomas Kinkade in the book Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall. When the New Republic reviewed the book, the entire point of the review is that somebody like Kinkade is not worthy of being taken seriously by art scholars because he produces what is obviously sub-par commercial art as opposed to the work of real artistic geniuses like Picasso and Matisse.

    Getting the respect as an artist means more than selling your work for a handsome profit. It means to be studied and taken seriously. I doubt that any future art historians are going to write tomes about the D&D movement and wax rhapsodically over the convention of the early 1980s. The serious artists are probably going to be those people living bohemian lifestyles and producing things that most people do not like and will not like in the future.Report

    • It is not accidental the next link after that one is ” “What Do Art Critics Actually Do?”

      I have no dog in this fight, as I was never a D&D player and I do not consult art critics very often. So from my purely philistine POV on this, I wonder if in the long run the current – lets say last 30-40 years to get to the early 80’s you alluded too – the “serious art scholars/critics” have built such an impenetrable wall of self importance that there is much talent that just goes another route out of necessity. What they may deride as illustrators is to many peoples eyes amazing art work full of vision and talent. Say what you want about Kinkade but his works and style will be viewed and remembered far longer than the critics who derided him. Graphic illustrations and digital art work are ever more present. I wonder if the generational passing, where more affluent and influential people perhaps grew up with things like comics and gaming, will change this attitude and how we define “art”.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I think your wrong in your second paragraph. Its entirely unsupported by history. Critics have a very strong power to shape popular perception on what is important. Much of what we actually remember what which artists, musicians, and writers are important are shaped a lot by what the critics think. They used to say that “a million Connie Francis fans can’t be wrong.” Well, it turns out that they can be wrong. Connie Francis is barely remembered while the musicians of the 1960s that were remembered were the ones that had the critics advocated for them. ”

        Its the same with art. There artists advanced by the critics are generally not the ones that are really popular with the general public. Representational art was more loved than impressionism or abstract art during the late 19th and early 20th century. However, the artists that we cherish in the present are those that the critics and to a lesser extent wealthy patrons enjoyed. I do not see this changing.Report

        • You have a point historically, but in this modern age of instant, universal information critics are no longer the gatekeepers like they were. I wonder if it will continue to be true.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

          But is that why Connie Francis is no longer remembered? Or is it that the tastes of a generation, a massive generation, are now held up as being some kind of pinnacle, whether they are truly good or not, critically. Do we remember the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the post-coital screechings of John and Yoko? Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music? Those were all critically acclaimed at one point or another, none of which has passed the test of time. Whereas Styx or Van Halen, neither of which were critical darlings, seem just a beloved today as they were at the time. Indeed, Rockabilly is having a revival, much like country music artists such as Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and others find a way to newer and younger audiences.

          In the painted art word, critics universally loathe the Pre-Raphealites, but those artists continue to be loved, reprinted and enjoyed. Much to “art lovers” horror. And the sheer number of critically acclaimed novels that have fallen by the wayside is staggering. We could go on with examples of critical failures in pretty much every field of artistic endeavor. Chip here often talks of architectural darlings vs. what people really want to live in.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I’m an unrepentant modernist when it comes to art. I don’t know if I would call this a minority opinion per se but it is an opinion reflective of a very specific subset of art lovers. What I’ve noticed about a lot of people though is that they never got over the 1913 Armory Exhibition. They still see Picasso and Matisse and Duchamp as radical even though the Armory Show is now over 100 years old.

        AD&D art is just as bad a Kinkade and the Pre-Raphealites because it is a hyper realistic style that ultimately shows how false it is.

        I wonder if the generational passing, where more affluent and influential people perhaps grew up with things like comics and gaming, will change this attitude and how we define “art”.

        I hope not!!!Report

        • I’m honestly curious, and again I am not artsy and respect your unrepentant modernist tendency so I genuinely want to know; define that, when you say “hyper realistic style that ultimately shows how false it is” just what that means, at least to you.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            When I look at hyperrealistic art or the fantasy/science fiction art, I often wonder what was the artists trying to achieve. Their drawings, paintings, and illustrations might be beautiful to look at but there seems to be no motivation besides this is pretty, this is cool for the D&D style stuff, and this will make me money. The modern artists from the impressionists and onward were engaging in some abstract thinking and experimentation in their art rather than merely trying to copy reality or put their fantasies in illustrated form.

            “Hyper realistic style that ultimately shows how false it is” could mean that the thought that went into creating the art is ultimately empty or superficial. It is art without a philosophy so it is really not art at all but at best craftsmanship. The more abstract forms of art count as real because they come with motivation and thought. They are more intellectual.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            The art is realistic in that it looks like actual human beings and things.

            But it is meant to provide a kind of idealized view of things whether it is the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Thomas Kinkade, or AD & D art.

            This is Mariana by John Everett Millais:

            I suppose it is technically pretty and well-done but I find it boring. Everything looks very realistic and as close to real as can be without being a photograph, film, or real live things in front of your eyes. But it is boring. It is a Middle Ages that never existed. Everything is too clean. It is too posed.

            By contrast, Here is Richard Diebenkorn’s Seated Figure with a Hat. The lines and details are more basic. The color range used is more limited but I find it more real. The pose is more natural and I find this more beautiful than some idealized Middle Ages princess or some figure of a muscular barbarian and comely sorceress fighting a dragon.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              And now, an editorial reply…

              What I find endlessly delightful in the Pre-Raphaelites is their very anachronism.

              They were very consciously painting romantic ideas of things that never existed, things they never knew, but longed for.

              They imagined a world of meaning and purpose, of drama where good prevailed. And the obvious anachronism is what gives it such a poignancy, I think, where they invite the viewer to draw the comparison.

              So the viewer can come away wishing for that idyll to return, but more astutely, feel the pang of loss knowing it is impossible.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They were a weird bunch of romantic reactionaries that believe the medieval ages was a more just time than the age they lived in. It took them to see interesting places. Many would convert to Roman Catholicism or at least have sympathy towards it. They would protest against the work houses of the Victorian era as un-Christian and argue that the monasteries of pre-Reformation England gave out aid freely and with love.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That is a reactionary aesthetic philosophy to me.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

      This is all just an appeal to authority though, a basic logical fallacy. It matters not what the New Republic thinks, nor where a piece of art hangs. The final judge of any creative work is in the eye of the beholder. Not to mention that dealers in ephemera have been searching out items such as this, or commercial art, interesting postcards, memento mori’s (Wisconsin Death Trip is a wonderful example of that in a very respected art book), etc. for as long as can be remembered, much of which gets hung in places such as MOMA and other famous museums.

      And yes, I would spend good money on an original Erol Otis.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

        Being the pragmatist that I am, I consider the success of art not based upon the critical acclaim of critics, but upon a much more basic metric:

        Did the artist get paid, and was it enough for them to make a living?

        How many critically acclaimed artists are alive today and able to support themselves/families from the proceeds of their works? How many were long dead before anyone really noticed them and was willing to pay the kingly sums to estates or the lucky few who happened to pick up the originals for less than the canvas and paint probably cost?

        If the critical acclaim doesn’t let the artist make bank, it’s pretty much elitist posturing and otherwise worthless.Report

        • This subject, wrt novelists, comes up from time to time at Charlie Stross’s place. The consensus as I read it from the writers there is that in the future there will be a tiny number of novelists who can make a living at it. They think the vast majority will be written by people who either have day jobs or have a spouse to support them. Or retirees — lots of people at Charlie’s think that writing novels will become largely the domain of the elderly.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

            If an artist can sell their work for a price they consider acceptable, then I consider them successful in their own right.

            If they can make enough to be a full time artist, even better. But the full time artist, the one who can live comfortably off their talent, is, and probably should be, the exception, not the rule.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          People get paid for crap work though. Sometimes people get paid very well for crap work like the Left Behind works.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Well, while there are only a small amount of ways to be excellent, there are infinite ways to be crappy.

            Go to the State Fair next year and wander through the arts and crafts pavilion and then wander through the Modern Art pavilion if you dare.

            You’ll see a lot of stuff that doesn’t even rise to the equivalent of the Left Behind works. The only thing that they’ll have going for them is that, yep, they’re not even trying to be Larry Elmore.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Sure, but what qualifies an art critic to be the trend setter? Often, it’s nothing other than they can convince enough other people that their opinion (not their objective analysis) is worth listening to.

            Think of it this way. Jim Butcher sells a lot of books. A lot of books. He makes bank. He’s invited to conventions, and hundreds, probably thousands, of people at every convention want to see him and hear him speak. He does signings at book stores, and draws a crowd. He pretty much gave birth to, or at popularized, a genre (Urban Fantasy). He’s a pretty successful author, but no one is going to consider him much more than a popular pulp novelist. He does not get that ‘critical acclaim’. He will probably write and sell more books in his life than any 10 authors who are ‘critically acclaimed’. And his work isn’t crap like “Left Behind”, it just doesn’t hit the buttons that draws the attention of those critics who are the gatekeepers of such things.

            In short, a lot of critical acclaim is cultural signalling. Be it writing, music, acting, graphic arts, sculpture, etc. I mean, how often does critical acclaim align with significant financial success? Sure, it hits from time to time, but it’s not a consistent indicator. If your art is critically acclaimed, but largely inaccessible to the public at large, then how is the acclaim anything but signalling to the elite that they should appreciate this art, as should anyone trying to become elite?

            If your art is inscrutable, are you sure that the clothes are really there?Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


              I share your scepticism. If Art is simply whatever Art Critics happen to like, how is it different from any other clique deciding what is and isn’t cool base don ti sown arbitrary criteria? I had no tolerance for that at High School, and I’m unlikely to develop any tolerance for it any time soon.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Well that’s what art is about. Really good art peaked back in the 1700’s or 1800’s when we mastered color and perspective. But everybody like still lifes and landscapes so liking such paintings didn’t say anything about the beholder, other than he was a hominid with 46 chromosomes.

              But appreciating art is meant to signal status through the free availability of leisurely pursuits and access to things that are virtually denied to the masses, or which the masses can’t appreciate because they lack the intellect to appreciate it. Since everyone could obviously appreciate well-executed paintings, art had to move into the realm of bizarrely-executed paintings that often look like a monkey had flung paint on a canvas.

              By pretending to like it, you signal to others that you have rarefied, elite tastes – because you’re a member of the elite.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

        There’s a great line in the It Might Get Loud documentary where Edge is saying “I’m just trying to create the sounds that I hear in my head.”

        A lot of the D&D art is someone similarly crazy trying to create the images that they see in their head. You read Dragonlance and you want to know what these characters look like? You talk to Larry Elmore. You read the book a second time and want some cheesecake shots? Well, you call Clyde Caldwell.

        It’s the art equivalent of a power chord. Could these guys pour their efforts into making art of, oh, I dunno… Native Americans riding Appaloosas or something similarly classy?

        Probably. Probably make some dough doing it, too.

        But they’re crazy. They instead are inspired by their muses to make paintings of women wearing chainmail that shows off their cleavage.

        But people are going to be looking up these guys for as long as people will be reading the Dragonlance novels. And people are going to be reading Dragonlance for as long as D&D sticks around.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

          I think this makes sense regarding how fantasy artists operate. They have rather rich imaginations and use art as a means to express what they see inside outside.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Fo1: No single food is going to do it. One of the simplest diets that could support you for years is white potatoes, milk, oatmeal, and an occasional serving of kale. Think of the world’s blandest casserole, three times a day, day after day after day… Beans and brown rice with a mix of vegetables also comes very close.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Hi1 – The house across the street from me is a Sears house, a craftsman style bungalow. And I am sure there are more in the neighborhood, as I live in a historic district.Report

  4. I really dislike the way in am area like mine the cookie cutter subdivisions of rapid growth. I’m thankful to have a rebuilt/updated older house in an established neighborhood Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

      This was one of the things that my wife and I looked for when we left the bay area. We wanted a home, not a house. And eventually those cookie-cutter neighborhoods will grow into that, but we didn’t want to be on that timeline.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Point of order – I’d call that brunch Extraordinary, not Ordinary.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Mu3 – I totally love Smooth non ironically. I’ve seen Matchbox Twenty in concert twice at music festivals, and Thomas once more when he sat in on a set played by Cowboy Mouth in a small venue in Hawaii, and they & he brought it every time.Report

    • I’ve seen Thomas in several settings where he was alone or with another group and found both his music and personality very appealing despite the hate. I wasn’t a huge Matchbox 20 fan but it’s hummable rock, and he wrote a bunch more hits than most of his detractors so good for him.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    This was the toast of snark on the Internet for Friday:


    Like the rest of twitter, this did not sound like a human being to me. Who says things like this?

    “On the evenings that we stay in Palo Alto, we walk down the tree-lined University Avenue, reflecting upon our key wins and challenges and preparing for the adventures of the next day,” she said.

    She also seems to work only 4-5 hours a day and those appear to be mainly meetings. I’m also surprised people sign up for these things. Is she so lacking in awareness not to know that she will be mocked by the Internet? This seems like a parody of the Winner Takes All complaint.Report

    • @Vikrambath will have a post being featured on this tomorrow morning so make sure you don’t miss that.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      She might have been offered enough money to make being a human sacrifice worth it. We must also remember that many people turn out to be shockingly unaware of the world. Its sort of like those stories about high school students from the middle of nowhere asking whether MIT is a good school. Its slightly more unusual for somebody who lives in Palo Alto and operates in her socio-economic set but she could have been unaware that these types of profiles are savagely mocked if she never participated in the forms where they get ripped apart.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It’s like someone took a millennial’s Instagram feed and slapped the title of business executive on the owner.

      It’s incredible how vapid some of this stuff is.Report

  8. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    The going theory on the net is the HSBC tried this to recruit people and it backfired: