from the Chattanooga Times Free Press by Holly Leber
The aesthetic of art is often the least of Mark McLeod’s concerns.
It’s all about the perception, the anticipation, the creation.
McLeod, who teaches at Cleveland State Community College and holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University, likes to create works that deal with memory — and more importantly, the protection of memory.
“If you acknowledge the event, you destroy the experience,” he said. “So by covering those objects up, or covering up parts of that memory, you kind of protect them.”
This philosophy comes into play in his series Beautiful Things, part of which is on display in the Association for Visual Arts gallery. The series includes bell jars, which have been spray-painted deep colors, and canvases that have been faced toward the wall.
The question, then, becomes: Is there anything under the jar? What? Is there anything on the canvas? What?
And, most importantly, does it matter?
“Did it matter if I did anything on the canvases or put anything underneath the bell jar?” mused McLeod. “The more I think about it, I think the answer is no. In the long run, the title sums it up — it’s about these events in our lives we hold near and true, and we don’t talk about them because it would destroy them.”
At some point, he said, he puts an object beneath the jar and later removes it.
“The temptation is to look, but once you look, you destroy those moments where you’re hesitant.”
McLeod made reference to one of his favorite works, “Erased de Kooning Drawing.” A drawing by artist Willem de Kooning was gifted to, and then erased by, artist Robert Rauschenberg in 1953. The work hangs in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“You have the question, what’s the drawing,” McLeod said. “Is it the erased part or the (original) one he destroyed?”
In other words, perhaps, art is more than meets the eyes. The creation and intention supersedes the result.
“My students look at Jackson Pollack and say, ‘I could do that,’ and of course they probably could, but it’s more about he’s reacting to his environment at the time that the average person may not know.”
He’s made pieces, he said, strictly for the aesthetic — “Hey, this just looks neat.”
“I don’t feel as emotionally connected to those as pieces that have an embedded story behind them or there’s a gut feeling as to why I made them,” he said. “They look interesting to me, and I have hundreds of them in my studio. But I just can’t figure out where to go with those.”