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Looking for balance in art in an unstable world

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Curt Clonts
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courtesy photo

In my twenties much of the art I created was full of angst. It could often be dark and quite moody. Mine was not the “oh poor me” variety, it was more the molotov cocktail—political upheaval variety. My idea then was that it most certainly generated thought and hopefully provoked “action.” It was made with all the arrogance that my 24-year-old self strutted about with in those days. The bantam rooster with his paintbrush—probably more interested in the message than the quality of the work. I occasionally see my old works and I sometimes cringe at the cockiness and fumbled efforts.

As I’ve aged I am proud to say that I have not lost much of the angst. It often rages inside me. Like you, I watch and listen to the news. I’m sick of political division and dirty politicians, who it seems to me, make up the bulk of both major parties. I want to go help the Ukrainian people fight the Russians in the streets. Our water is drying up in our western states and children are being killed in schools. You get the gist—we are in real pain and peril.

I’m finding it a tougher journey to make art these days. I had grown into a place where I was making brighter, more positive work. I feel stable. I’m not fighting to put food on our table. And I am also very aware that many in my community aren’t being fed or able to keep expensive gas in their cars. I’m feeling the weight of the world. And so my thought processes are deeper. My journaling, more detailed and thoughtful. I’m looking for a balance.

My efforts will continue because I’m an artist. But I am hiking a very humble road in my mission to convey the message, and the weight.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping.