Pen&Ink Possibilities: Drawing outside the lines

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By Kirsten Laskey

What constitutes a work of art? Should all art fit within the limits of whatever definition Webster’s Dictionary assigns the word or should it venture outside the lines in favor of multiple meanings?

Wandering through the newest exhibit at the Mesa Public Library, it seems clear that art defies a single definition. If something or someone is valued so highly and made immortal through paint, clay or any other medium, so in order that it can be shared with the rest of the world, then the work is worthy of the term art.

The featured artist at the library, Nels Krakowski, pays tribute to people and things that appear to be meaningful to him; and as a result, makes numerous works of art. There are paintings of snow-covered trees, mountains, rainbows and the American flag.

These are everyday, ordinary sights that sometimes get taken for granted, and yet Krakowski takes them out of their ordinary surroundings to shine the spotlight on his favorite things. A green tree is set against a sunshine yellow background while a white flower springs up from a fire-engine red backdrop.

These unusual settings make the viewer stop and take a closer a look at the everyday beauty that can be so easily ignored.

Krakowski’s work is not all tidy; a few paintings have a brush stroke that meanders away from the others or have a few uneven surfaces as if to push aside the idea that art needs to stay within the lines.

It is not always neat or pretty, but that does not diminish the art’s value. And Krakowski is not the only one whose work supports this idea.

Willem de Kooning’s paintings of women appear to make females look monstrous. They are distorted figures with hideous clown-like faces.

Additionally, Jackson Pollock’s paintings appear to be just a rampage of chaotic paint splatters.

Yet, both men are famous and their works are immortal.

Why? Because they threw any single conventional definition of art out the window and made their own meanings.

It seems Krakowski has joined the artists who have the courage to follow their own artistic rules.