On Art and Cat Piss

Friday, 24 September 2010

Our cats collaborate on a weekly contemporary drawing in the catbox called “Stinky Concrete”


I’ve spent a long time in this life being a guy who whittles at timbres and textures and then assembles them in forms.

While I’ve devoted great amounts of time and energy to this purpose, and have been pleased with much of the work I’ve done, I’ve hesitated to ever call what I do ‘art’, or call myself an ‘artist’. Only recently, after almost twenty years of piddling around with sound, I decided that ‘composer’ is actually an appropriate thing to call myself, and I don’t feel like a poser calling myself that, because “composing” is an accurate description of what I do. Fine, I’m a composer. Now that that’s settled…


In the nineties, before I turned my hand to sound and delved into the cassette underground, I was involved in mail art. I published a zine and I was quite active in the mail art scene and even co-hosted a mail art gallery show in 1996.

Upon taking up sound art, I almost completely abandoned visual art, only expressing myself visually with cover art (quite a constrained medium, I tell you).

Most of my visual art impulses were soaked up by a job I took at a factory that produced (still does) collectible cast pewter art. Sixteen years later, I know this process inside and out. I’ve essentially made my living on art for all this time, but I still feel like my own expression has been choked off.

For some while now I’ve had an impulse to move again into visual art. I’ve been studying toward a certificate in ‘sculptural welding’ at a local community college. Currently, I’m taking the very humbling ‘Drawing 101’ class. If you’re someone who has some long established ideas about art, I highly recommend humbling yourself by taking an entry level drawing class. Drawing from a still life is just not an easy task. I remember – vividly – drawing my first still life in art class for fourth grade. We spent days on it… it strained my nine year old patience and challenged my abilities. I remember it being such a frustrating task that I dreaded going to the class, I dreaded going to school… I remember the entire project vividly, decades later. I must have learned some pretty useful things though. I wish I could see that drawing now.

So I’m learning. So I’m humbling myself and taking it from the beginning. So I am making an effort toward a goal, to express a more complete side of me artistically, to become a more complete artist. I still cannot bring myself to assume the title of ‘artist’ or ‘sculptor’. I think my goal is – as I finally feel comfortable assuming the title of ‘composer’ – to someday feel comfortable – through the experience of doing work and accumulating a body of work – assuming the title of ‘sculptor’… or maybe ‘artist’? Gah, right now, just expressing the possibility in print makes me want to rip out my own throat, I’m so far away from it.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a curious and fraught process… I already have a complex and antagonistic relationship with ‘art’ and ‘artists’.

The catbox with its abstract clumps suspended in clay powder and sinus-cramping aroma will always be more important and vital artwork than most anything you’ll see in “Art in America” magazine. If I can do better than that, then I might be on to something.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sara, c. reider. c. reider said: A few scatterbrained thoughts about art and cat piss: http://www.vuzhmusic.com/blog/2010/09/24/on-art-and-cat-piss/ […]

    TrackBack by Tweets that mention Vuzh Music Blog » Blog Archive » On Art and Cat Piss -- Topsy.com | September 25, 2010 12:42 am
  2. […] the Universals (C. Reider Remixes) (Earth Mantra) is recommended via Phillip Wilkerson’s blog 255: What it means to be a composer via Vuzh Music […]

    TrackBack by Readings 222 – 255 « Disruptive Platypus | September 25, 2010 10:50 am
  3. […] the Universals (C. Reider Remixes) (Earth Mantra) is recommended via Phillip Wilkerson’s blog 255: What it means to be a composer via Vuzh Music […]

    TrackBack by Readings 222 – 255 | Acts of Silence | February 20, 2011 8:37 am
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