Good Art

The late and beloved art historian, Mary Holmes, defined art as “anything you make.” Then we are left with the question (and debate) what is good art? Skipping right over that issue, I saw some good art last night.

Brenda Wong Aoki and her husband Mark Izu, who perform stories and music of people living between worlds, gave a fine performance at Santa Cruz’s marvelous Kuumbwa jazz center. (http://www.kuumbwajazz.org) The avant-garde jazz was performed by consummate musicians and was transporting, smart, and moving music. When the first piece got-going with drums and bass in a grab-you-up-beat I was immediately tapping and moving along, but then the koto began its jazz riff and I was stunned. I only know koto as played in classical Japanese music. This was a use of the instrument in contemporary and brave ways, and it worked. Other pieces linked taiko drumming with saxaphone, bass, snare drums, flute . . .  — whew, what a treat. And Brenda Aoki’s storytelling was captivating. Her timing and use of gesture, motion, costume, humor and horror were stunning. I am a new fan and will be following their work. If you are interested: http://www.aokizu.com/first-voice. Good art, fine artistry.