Mainstreaming the Muse

Sep 6, 2015

Askin_Audience-in-RaptureMainstreaming the Muse
by Walter Askin

To be an artist is to engage in the wonderfully fulfilling, dangerous, and intensively social act of creating images and propositions as we search for visual ideas resonant with emerging beliefs and values. It is a privilege, a joy, a delight, and quite often a dire necessity to be able to give ideas tangible form… to create images that liberate the imaginative life… to transform thought patterns…

How do we determine what is worth doing and to evaluate the merits of our inquiries? We, as human beings, need a means of understanding the qualitative content of our work to evaluate ideas against a more aggressively gregarious range of ideas. Allowing the artificial divisions between the ideational realms of the past to continue into the future makes progress difficult.


"Good and Evil"

Good and Evil


The ability to induce chance encounters between a variety of ideas sometimes results in the greatest and most revelatory leaps in learning. You cannot with wisdom or love decide beforehand what will ultimately provide the structure for the propitious arrangement of ideas and information. Instead, it is important to provide the widest possible range of stimuli, content, and resources offering the mind opportunities to make what it will of these events, ideas, theories, and possibilities. I relish confluences – the places where two rivers, two people, two ideas come together to create a larger more inclusive vision. As with the stereoscope, depth is better achieved by looking from two points at once. Ideas in art are best achieved within a rich context of ideas – social, psychological, mathematical, historical.



Memory Park


Christopher Columbus Returns from the New World

Christopher Columbus Returns from the New World with the Four Basic Food Groups to Queen Isabella Levitating, Dog Buster and Oscar Kokoschka in a Funk


We live our lives in various states of mind – many of which are more fantasy than fact, more illusion than reality. Because we live life in a condition of illusion, art becomes important through its ability to invoke states of mind and change the illusions on which decisions are based. It means that we are no longer trapped by reality. Reality is built, manufactured, created. The same applies to a self, a being, an individual. Both reality and being are created and art is a major potential vehicle for their creation. The human species is an indefatigable creator of stories, myths, values, beliefs, theories, morals, laws, and religions. We never step entirely out of a socially manufactured reality, nor shut down the story-making parts of our mind. Continually re-examining beliefs is a necessary task for survival in our time. The great creations do not emerge from a vacuum but from traditions. All fictions owe their strength to previous creations and to their ability to capture for a moment the key myths and archetypes so that life doesn’t seem worth living unless one is on the side of liberation and transformation.




Set any group of human beings down anywhere and they start nesting, trying to make their world better and satisfying. It’s indicative of the naturally expansive nature of the human spirit. Art is the crowning touch, the spiritual fife and drum corps of the nesting instinct.

One of the major purposes of art is to create mysteries that liberate us to manufacture alternatives – adventures of the mind in action. I can live with errors of fact but not of fantasy. You’ve got to get your fantasies right. Who needs a bunch of stupid facts interfering with our illusions? The major concern is how to tap into your imaginative life and create work that is in concert with your feeling sense of what is valuable and important. Fantasy is a means of engaging in an exploration of the purposes of life. We can learn from fiction, what’s good and what’s bad. All manner of worlds cannot be imagined without fantasy and fiction.



Mystery Figure


My works give focus to a way I view our world and offer the freedom to act in playful ways. They depict imaginary events in a particular manner by personal choice and poetic nonsense to give life hope and joy.

In most subjects, to know is everything. A great mystery, even a mundane mystery, is not desirable. When you are seeking a cure for arthritis, this is entirely understandable, or when you trying to make a spaceship go out and return, or want to know just how much tile you need in order to cover the kitchen floor. But in art, a mystery is quite frequently something you are trying to bring into being – and is desirable. It is not an obfuscatory urge, this desire to delve into the creation of mysteries, but rather a need to extend experience, to feel there is a realm out there waiting to be revealed.




We are always trying to see beyond what is to what might be. Our natural state is one of conjecture. We recognize the deadliness of a mind that is no longer at play, that no longer searches, that is satisfied with the status quo. We are energized and thrown into an invigorating state when we encounter fresh ideas – generative, provocative proposals that demand a response on our part. We need to become involved in a search without a predetermined focus or destination with the desire for something more – an experience more completely corollary with our feeling sense, that what is now experienced is less complete, less compelling, less true, and less valuable than what can be brought into being – an attempt to extend reality, a sense that the plane on which we live is superficial much of the time and does not use our powers to the fullest. There is also the sense that what others have created as models for our “program,” our actions, our focus, our direction in existence does not correspond to our needs, our aspirations, nor to the pattern of life most in tune with the spirit, ideas, and forces of our world. This play, this search, this desire, is an exordium – a forum for first thoughts, proposals, fictions, desires, incongruities, a process of emptying everything onto the table for examination.





Art is an activity that brings all that is natural and human into play and humor is an inescapable aspect of presenting images in an influential and compelling way. Much of reality leaves us unmoved and bored. Art can provide a sense of expansiveness and give us a sense of infinite possibilities even when we are mindful of our limitations. Humor is an expression found between perception and imagination. It is joy in the face of an uncompromising world, a world not of our own design nor made to our manufacturing specifications. In reality there are rules, patterns and inevitabilities not in accordance with our desires. Art becomes a means of accepting reality without losing our integrity. Laughter is a sign of our freedom from automatic unchanging responses to the world and a part of the process of becoming.






The Original & Unexpurgated Art of Walter Askin
Psychic landscapes & earthly oracular visions
Filled with inspired bunkum in the form of
Frolics, festivals, dreams and desires – A
Melange of illogical and comical events


On view: September 12 through October 24, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 12, 6PM-8PM
Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A.
5151 State University Dr., L.A. 90032 (just south of Alhambra)
Gallery hours: Monday- Thursday & Saturday, noon-5 p.m.
Admission: Free
For more info, visit


"Garbage Sale Bluez"

Garage Sale Blues


Askin’s multi-faceted work ranges from sardonic graphic works and large painterly abstractions to vibrant figurative sculptures. In each of these respective mediums he creates imaginative yet satirical images whose eclectic imagery resist being defined by any distinct movement. (Luckman Gallery)





Painting, top right: Audience in Rapture by Walter Askin.




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