Philosophy Corner

A Time Without Art, The Case for Beauty – by Tania Scroggie

Several months ago, as if on automatic pilot, I rushed out of my house directly to the beach in Carmel to contemplate the ocean. As I sat in my car observing the vast amount of beauty, I could see that my emotional state was not right. For a moment I felt lost, incapable of coping with my own existence, not knowing what to do, nor how to move forward.  Even the inviting sidewalks, the beautiful babies, and the cute puppies strolling the beach didn’t soothe my spirit. 

Collectors Gallery with and without art collection

But, as I have learned, I had to push forward and take in the beauty that was available to me at the moment. As I drove around the scenic route it finally hit me that, for one week I had not been surrounded by the beautiful art at the Gallery. Due to recent maintenance, we had closed the storefront and had moved to work out of a nearby office, always in the town, but not in a gallery setting. There was no paradise. I was starving for beauty. Since I am usually surrounded by art, I had not made any effort to read or listen to any beautiful music or poetry.

Philosophy teaches that there are different levels of energy produced by the body, and we have all experienced them. For example, the energy produced by reading a mathematical equation and the energy produced by receiving a kiss are completely different. One is intellectual and one is emotional. The latter is a more refined energy, and makes our inner world vibrate with life. This explains our constant search for joy, beauty, and love, because those elements increase the quality and quantity of the energy available to us.

Love itself requires an even higher production of energy. Since our energy states vary throughout the day, our state of love is also in constant fluctuation. We fall in and out of love so easily. At times, it is not that we don’t love the ones close to us, it is just that, with an over demanding society, always on the go, there is not enough energy left to sustain the state of love.

Since the moment I became aware that the energy levels within me are within my control, I made the decision to abandon the arid, plain, bare walls, and golden shackles of high-tech corporate America, and I traded them for a humbler, yet, internally more fulfilling environment. The result has been a more soothing, creative life, and overall, the moments of happiness are more constant and longer lasting.

Collectors Gallery

So, what happens when we are surrounded by beauty? Unbeknownst to us, beauty in the form of art, classical music, poetry, literature, theater, opera, architecture, beautiful nature, etc. act as batteries that sustain energy levels by supplying our bodies with constant, pleasant sensations. In everyday life, the difference at first can be so tiny, but it can be felt when we go on vacation. On vacation, our entire surroundings change and the lack of routine enhances our senses. In fact, this is the reason why we go on vacation and why Carmel is such a wonderful destination. There is more than just the visual stimulus from nature, but the banquet to the senses is enhanced by beautiful food, art, and music.

Tania and a beloved Collector

Once we leave town and return to normal life, the lack of beauty in our surroundings begins to dull down senses and life becomes plain and arid. Negative emotions begin to weight us down, and what I call the wound of birth aches, and the effort to sustain the living experience takes its toll. The roller coaster of emotions begins and the shifting from happiness to anger, to love and nostalgia, take over, all based on the amount and quality of energy the body is producing. We talk about depression? Let’s talk about a crisis in lack of beauty. Without a constant source of pleasant sensations assisting the body, the daily energy drops and we can find ourselves in an endless cycle of suffering.

Collectors Gallery

Art cushions the daily routine by opening up the senses, allowing us to be more in tune with our surroundings. Art reminds us that there is more to our existence than the fleeting moment, the regretted past, and the uncertain future.

While we are not always lucky enough to be surrounded by beauty and beautiful sensations, we can always understand the need for beauty and make efforts to find it. Beauty must become a necessity in our daily existence. We must realize that beauty goes beyond buying power.

It wasn’t until that Saturday that I realized how spoiled I had become, and how much the Art at the gallery lifts my emotional state. Art has truly become an imperative need in my life. With technology so readily available, I then knew that I had to more intentionally surround myself with things that bring me that sense of beauty such as the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke, Seneca, Walt Whitman, the music of Vivaldi, Mozart, and the paintings of Da Vinci that, thanks to technology, are now so much more accessible to me.

The closing of the gallery was just a temporary situation and I soon returned to my typical mornings filled by the beautiful smile of my boss, our cup of coffee, and a gallery of Beautiful art.

A time without art provoked in me a “lack of art” asthma attack. Without art there is no living. Surround yourself with beauty.

Working with a Living Artist

Many wise and knowledgeable collectors and action houses spend countless hours looking and hunting for that piece of art treasured by many and probably painted by a deceased artist.  Even at Collectors Galleries, I frequently get asked the question, how old is this artist? Meaning, will he pass away soon? Will my piece of art appraise once the artist is gone? While those questions are important, and a reality in the finances of art collecting, the value of working with a living artist is priceless, and I have a true story to share.

Cristian Korn

In 2017, for the second year in a row, Cristian Korn, the star of Collectors Galleries, came from Germany to the gallery in Carmel for his second art reception.  His first trip to the Gallery had been in 2016 when he met many of the collectors and appreciators of his works; many of us becoming instant friends and family to the artist.  One of those was Tamara’s dog.  Tamara, owner of the gallery, hosts Cristian at her house when he comes to visit.

On that first night that Cristian stayed at her house, he was awoken by a snoring sound in his room.  After looking around and under the bed he finally found Jack, a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, who became Cristian’s roommate for the next remaining two weeks of his visit at the house.

Jack Wearing Glasses

Jack was born in the US and had been adopted by Tamara’s daughter as a gift to her children while they were living in Mexico.  Upon the family’s return to Carmel, Jack was given to Tamara as she had a much larger state for Jack to play. This means that Jack flew from Texas to Mexico City and back to Carmel, California.

A typical Westie, he began guarding his mama and her property against the many different animals in the area. As time passed, Tamara had become too busy at the gallery, so she had begun to bring Jack to work with her.  Every day, Jack and Tamara would come to work and greet the clients together.

Cristian, upon meeting his new friend, was surprised at Jack’s loyalty and character. Cristian started making drawings and sketches of Jack in the house.  The Cristian-Jack relationship inspired a beautiful series of works painted by Cristian between 2016 and 2017 called, “Le Mansion de Jack.”

Upon Cristian’s return to the gallery in 2017 he reconnected with all his friends and collectors, but he especially reconnected with Jack, who began snoring while sharing his room again with Cristian.

La Maison de Jack

Jack was a real joy at the gallery.  He changed the daily routine and brightened every day with his loving playful attitude.  He was full of facial expressions, looking especially charming whenever he was disciplined and given time out.  He shared my chair and trained me to sit just on the edge as he needed the rest of the chair for his daily rest.  Being mostly a cat lover myself, this was my first time taking the time to make the acquaintance and the friendship of dog.

Debbie & Jack at Collectors Galleries

Jack quickly stopped being just a dog and became a co-worker, a friend, part of the team, and one of our most treasured arts at the gallery.

So, in 2017, 2 days after Cristian’s arrival, Jack sprang out of the gallery chasing after a dog and was fatally hit by a car driving too fast down San Carlos St.  I picked him up from the street and handed him over to Cristian so I could drive to the nearest pet hospital to get Jack some help, but, Jack did not make it.  He passed away on Sunday August 13th 2017, 6 days away from the Gallery’s biggest event of the year, Cristian’s art reception.

Needless to say, this tragic event changed our lives and our perspective of friendship, camaraderie, love and art.  I understood that love and friendship come in different forms, and that something so little can have such presence and personality.  Upon Jack’s passing I felt deep respect and honor to have met him.  It was truly as if an old, wise friend had passed.

The night of Jack’s passing, friends and family gathered around him for a last good-bye.  We brought flowers, tears, and a large stone to serve as his headstone.  On it, we all wrote our own unique words of parting love and gratitude. Jack had been the matchmaker between me and my boyfriend.    Tamara wrote in beautiful poetry to Jack.

Tamara and Jack

La Maison sans Jack

Cristian, of course, during his grieving process, went home and painted his memories of Jack in Canvas, and “Le Mansion San Jack” was born.  We all paid our tribute to Jack in our own way.  It was then that I realized the priceless importance of art and of working with a living artist.  Christ himself even said, “There is nothing like the living word.”  Jack, through all of our differing words and the memories in them, lives on.

This story about Jack also brings us to a question of art and transcendence.  Why do we collect art of dead masters?  Does art exist only as something that has captured the past, or could it be that, just like Cristian, artists have eloquently captured an instant of time? As artist becomes historian and visionary could it be only a curiosity of the past?

What brings us to forgotten pasts? In the case of Da Vinci, it could be that he transcended himself, leaving pieces of living soul in his art, giving or leaving us glimpses of eternity and possibility in canvas that attract us even today.  Da Vinci himself advised, “Avoid studies of which results die with the worker.”  Is he pointing out this transcending with his work and his words?

Working with a living artist means you have a brainstorming companion who speaks the words and experiences of the time. Collecting their works means somehow, both of you understand each other.  The similarities of existence are recognized by the collector who elegantly cries out, and by the artist, who masterfully paints. They each become companions who can express contemporary living, sorrows and joys. While many of us look to birthing the next generations to transcend living, many artists consider their art work the next transcendental generation. Cristian Korn is not worrying or asking about transcending, he is too busy painting it.

My friendship with Jack reminds me of the words of 1986 Noble Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel as follows:

“And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion, with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing. It is a friend that you communicate the awakening of a desire, the birth of a vision or a terror, the anguish of seeing the sun disappear or of finding that order and justice are nWo more. That’s what you can talk about with a friend. Is the soul immortal, and if so why are we afraid to die? If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end? What is death, when you come down to it? The closing of a parenthesis, and nothing more? And what about life? In the mouth of a philosopher, these questions may have a false ring, but asked during adolescence or friendship, they have the power to change being: a look burns and ordinary gestures tend to transcend themselves. What is a friend? Someone who for the first time makes you aware of your loneliness and his, and helps you to escape so you in turn can help him. Thanks to him who you can hold your tongue without shame and talk freely without risk. That’s it.”

Tania Scroggie

Philosophy Lover’s Corner

By Tania Scroggie

Tania Scroggie

The art of living and The Art of Collecting are two fundamental branches of the existential journey of mankind.

Why is it that we always want to surround ourselves with beauty?  Why are we so hopelessly in love in wonder of the beauty of our thinking in relation of analyzing the flow of nature and societies of which we are part of?

These questions become the foundations of philosophy and have guided us through the millenniums.Since our aim is to really find the blood relationship between The Art of Collecting and philosophy, we plan to always have something interesting in our philosophy corner that will bridge our past and present searches for wisdom and its outcome in the form of beauty.

A marble head of Socrates – by Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting

Since everything somewhat started in old Greece, I think we will give Greece a first shot.

Around 500 BC in Athens, there was a man of great wisdom.  His name is Socrates, whose teachings, thanks to Plato, were recorded and have survived the passage of time.

 Not that the term did not exist before, nor that other cultures had not searched for wisdom either, but, it was Socrates who coined the word philosopher, as “the lover of wisdom” and philosophy as the “love of wisdom.”

Socrates stated that we all have a perception of what is good.  Therefore we are attracted to and chase after what represents our highest standard of good, or beautiful.  There are times when what exists is not enough and we must bypass existence as we know it and create a new.

The history of humanity can be observed in the various legacies of “good” and “beautiful” which have been left in the form of paintings, music, literature, theoretical science, applied technology, and many other art forms and human achievements of the various civilizations.

The School of Athens by Raphael (1509–1510), fresco at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City

Endless schools of philosophy and art have seen their days and nights in their pursuit to study, understand, question and create what is beautiful.

It is this perpetual perception of what is good or beautiful, that leads us into a search for higher understanding of truth, and truth becomes wisdom.

The love of wisdom does not belong to a specific age, civilization, gender or social class.  It belongs to the one who dares to love and pursue that which he/she perceives as the highest form of beauty.  Now the question is, will your love take you to the highest form of Wisdom?