My god you people have got it all lop-sided!
I saw this "violinist in the subway" link months ago, (it seems to be a re-emerging meme) I couldnt see what the fuss was all about. The piece was obviously written from a " Oh what has the world come to??" second rate rag standpoint. (like the biggest selling newspaper here in Norway, one day its "Posh Spice in fat ass shock" the next its "Rape wave in Norway" the next its "Norway best place in the world.. Official!" ) UGH!
I couldn't help but see this from 2 points of view...
1. Violin? Who knows or likes anything about a violin? I mean their nice and 'all, but if J Zee or whatever his name is, had been rapping in the metro.. now THAT might have stopped a few folk, the 10,000 people who all paid for a ticket to see him, well they KNEW all about him didnt they...?
The level of street performers is generally excellent, if you go to Covent Garden in London or Pompideu center in Paris (and occasionally in Egertoget in Oslo), you will see many many world class musicians and performers. (Why are there no knife jugglers performing at Carnegie Hall is what I would like to know!) Generally the level of Art we see all around us is very very very high! And frankely I wouldnt be sure that Joshua Bell is anywhere near as talented as the one string blues guitarist drunk guy that lives under a bridge near me.. (yes in Norway at -11 degrees).
In England we say "its Horses for Courses" I've never know quite why we say it, but we say it at moments like this.
2.Art? OMG... Do I have to explain art now?
OK, for the last time... there is no such thing as good Art and Bad Art... there is just lucrative art and non-lucrative Art.
Now there ARE talented painters and genius film-makers, and oh so wonderful wonderful musicians, but the Art that they make.. is subjective... thats not the same thing as context. Context suggests that, placed in the right time at the right place, a "Good bit of Art" will be heralded rightly as " a good bit of Art". That some how "truth will out!"
That is unfortunately not so.
There are many many many many more GREAT artists, than ever become known as such. And the reason for that, is that there exists a business called "The Art Business" that likes it that way. If everyone was equally famous, then there would be no "supply and demand" for the Art dealers to trade their commodities in. Dont worry, Im NOT slamming them, I love Art galleries, I'm lazy, I LIKE to be told what is selling at the moment, it is after all... interesting. and I often see things I LOVE... I LOVE Gilbert and George, I love Joseph Beuys, I love Frida Kahlo. It great to be told that Joshua Ball is a great violinist, I didnt know that, now I do! And as someone mentioned correctly earlier in this thread, I wouldnt KNOW he was great, if he hit me over the head with his Strad... Well actually then I might take note...
Back to context. Artists, especially conceptual artists have been investigating this very idea / problem, whatever it is, for decades. Karl Andre made huge headlines in Britain because the Tate Gallery bought his "pile of bricks". He was playing with exactly that, what is Art, are bricks Art on a building site?, what if we put them in a gallery? Is it Art now? Also... Goldsworthy (sorry forgot name, could google but on a roll, you do it...) Yes Goldsworthy, he walks off into the wilderness, and makes beautiful arrangements of stones, in strange circles, or sews leaves together in complex tapestries, or builds tentative teetering Ice arches, NO ONE will EVER see them, but him.. except... wait for it... wait for it... He photographs them, and publishes them in very expensive coffee table books. Again.. whats the Art? The 500 living yellow ladybirds he has collected and arranged in a perfect square, for a few seconds, OR the photograph?
I have been to rock concerts where I have been so bored, I felt like I was walking past, and then again, Ive heard interesting pinging noises on telphone wires and stopped to listen for a while, if they had hats, I'd put money in!
There is Art and music around us all the time, beauty and wonder in every blink of the eye, I don't think there's much to be surprised about, if we walk past some of it.. do you?