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Fine Art, Fine Wine and the Common Man

Submitted by Albin Johnson - April 03, 2006

Ask any Artist, Musician, Writer, Chef, or Professor, "What is good taste?" Most will give you lengthy definitions, but many will settle on something that is rather deep and perhaps difficult for the average person to understand. Usually they make a comparison! I like to think I understand anyone's desire to paint because I like to think I have some talent. I try to paint and copy what I see, but I can make a case for Modern, Contemporary or Conceptual art. So, do I have good taste? I guess it really doesn't matter as I am sure any child or adult from the 300 million or so Americans could offer varied opinions, smiles, or frowns about anything they could hear, taste, read, or look at. Just remember though, humans are the only species that can produce artwork no matter how tasteless it may appear. Start with these examples.

I enjoy Art, even the Texas genre! So. When I viewed the '39 Dodge at LA's Museum of Art, I was drawn to the "back seat" where a couple of mannequins were embraced. Not everyone saw humanity in the work. I liked it! If it wasn't X rated, then certainly an "R. " Kinkade's work is commercial and painted to sell, and sell he does as a very popular painter. They are colorful serene scenes of cities and landscapes where he uses
"light" to enhance the picture.

Next, we go to gourmandizing our taste buds. How well can you vocalize about salt or sugar? These are flavorful items that please the palate (taste buds}. Does it really matter what they look like, feel like or smell like? The experts might try by comparing color, source, and processing and a doctor might give a different spin to them; but the flavor remains the same, only sometimes sweeter or saltier.
Sugar, a favorite taste enhancer is processed primarily from sugar beets or sugar cane. A byproduct molasses gives us brown sugar, which adds color! Many fruits and vegetables come equipped with flavor. Diet worriers can now use sugar substitutes such as Saccharin and Aspartame that provide the sweetness for the products such as Neutra Sweet, Ace-K, Sugar Twin, Splenda and Sweet&Low. It is estimated that the average American eats 20 teaspoons of sugar a day!

Salt consumption is a touch more complicated in describing. NACL, the chemical symbol for salt is processed from a couple of different sources, which gives "experts" a chance to extol their various merits. There is sea salt and brine, which is usually used for common kitchen salt. Two other sources are rock salt, and crystal salt called "halite" that is reputed to be the salt of the kings or the diamond of salts! (Maybe, that pushing the envelope a bit?)

One of the "hottest" TV additions of late is the preparation of gourmet foods by famous chefs from all over the country specializing in everything from pizza to Chateaubriand. Preparation of the ingredients and presentation of the meal are essential. Special knives and kitchen tools, pots and pans help add professional "flare" and sometimes actual flames are achieved by a dash of some alcohol into the mix. Almost anything alive or grown can be soaked, chopped, mashed, peeled, pared or pureed into a new "exciting" taste sensation. All that is needed is a casually tossed pinch of salt and a few "grinds" of the wooden pepper mill. Incidentally, the only gourmet recipe I know how to "prepare" is a Creole mix called Chicken Gumbo. I do a good job of it, but I need a more complete definition and reason for preparing the magic ingredient, a ROUX. Answers would be appreciated!

As a teen in Minonk, I worked for a couple of grocery stores. We also lived above a meat market and meat storage locker. I became acquainted with some new as well as established ethnic foods. There were certain animal organs, pickled pig's feet, pickled eggs, raw oysters, tripe, eel, calamari, snails, buffalo, sardines, osso bucco, squab, quail, squirrel, moose and rabbit. Few of which I have tasted or want to taste!! I suppose that by today's standards even if I ordered any, I would also find it necessary to "select" a wine.

The nouveau population has defined what wine is all about! A whole new group of gourmands have become connoisseurs of the grape. They help explain to us what is fashionable, tasteful and proper to serve. On a recent trip, I overheard a wine merchant explaining to all in ear shot the ins and outs of wine; which ones to purchase for serving with appropriate foods. Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon are rich and powerful while Pinot Noir is delicate and Merlot is soft. She suggested many brands and vintages while listeners wrote furiously. She showed irritation if any asked for spelling! She eventually closed by saying: "A wine cellar can increase your prestige, but it takes a lifetime to become a wine connoisseur and be able to recognize real quality."

After some 55 years of living in this state of opportunity called California or LALA land or "Paradise", I still hold on to my roots. I have always loved art but have a distaste for wine. I avoid social class structures set up by overbearing elitists. I have my own definition of what is tasteful and that, which is tasteless. I can appreciate and enjoy the lifetime of work that Simon Rodia's put into "The Watts Towers" as shown below. And I can also find reason and enjoyment in Lyle London's sculpture called "Oracle #6" also shown. Thank goodness for honesty over commercialism and of course, be honest with yourself!!!!!!!!!!!