An honest opinion

December 15, 2014 § 4 Comments

My pal Judson Orrick, a lawyer, was moved to begin painting. One day his friend the artist Joe McFadden came by his law office. As Judson tells the story:

“I represented Joe in a dispute with a gallery owner who wasn’t paying him. Joe came by my office, which is festooned with examples from my abstract expressionist period. Big canvasses. Lots of bright squiggles and whathaveyou’s. Everyone who comes in compliments my rare talent. Joe said nothing. So I said to him: Everyone compliments my artwork, Joe, but yours is the single opinion that matters to me. Honestly, what do you think?”

“It’s dreadful,” he said. “Truly horrible. A waste of paint and canvas. I know orangutans working with dung who have shown more promise. Seriously, it’s bad. You should stop.”

Then he turned up his palms, cocked his head, smiled and shrugged. “You asked.”

Read more: “I really, really liked that guy

§ 4 Responses to An honest opinion

  • I re-read that several times hoping that it was intended as humorous. I’m guessing not. He wanted an honest opinion and he got it, but that certainly shouldn’t have invited words that sounded more insulting than constructive. The answer was mean-spirited in its tone and not something I’d expect from a “friend.” Certainly there were better ways to speak the truth. I paint realistic art and often don’t have the vocabulary to speak about abstract impressionism because that hasn’t been my focus, and I’d admit that first before launching into my invited opinion. On two occasions, as a judge for art exhibitions, I’ve chosen abstract works to be among the winners. Pure gut instinct.

  • I meant to write “abstract EXpressionism” above and noticed no “edit” button for my reply. Tiresome day.

  • nyamahiro says:

    I agree Mr. Goettee that it was honest but tactless. If I understand the story, Joe was a client and not “a friend.” But you are a friend or a “pal” and even the language “decided he was an artist” followed by “One day a real artist…” certainly implies that you don’t consider your pal a “real artist” – whatever that means. Its an unfortunate tale of poor behavior and questionable friendship.

    • Thanks, nyamahiro. I made it my promise to avoid any arrogance like that I’ve seen in some successful artists. Lately I’ve been enjoying great success and meeting many of my art heroes who I’ve admired for years. I notice of how they behave as well as how well they create art. I’ve found that true humility in a person with great talent is a beautiful thing. And I’m certainly with you on that line about “a real artist…” Anyone who picks up a tool to make art is a REAL artist, no matter what degree of talent may come with it.

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