What Is Great Art?

"What Is Great Art" is a look at what makes great art and artists in the wake of the next "Look Up!" Art Exhibition in Silicon Valley, "Look Up! 2".

What Is Great Art?

Black Woman, C-Note, 2018, Wax on paper

"I want to be able to feel it with my eyes and feel my feelings in my body, in response to the statements of the image, and touch of the artist. Great Art, to me, is an irresistible world of another's vision, bringing understanding and questions all its own," says Margret Hefner.

What Distinguishes a Great Artist from a Good Artist?

Dubai, artrepreneur Afzal Ibrahim of THE ART/ST says, "A true artist has the courage to get outside of his comfort zone and this is when true masterpieces are born. Courage is possibly the most important trait of a great artist and one who creates meaningful and powerful works.

Courage breeds authenticity and is not there to please the audience, but to show them the way the artist sees the world. It's there to make people ponder questions and think about their own reality. If an artist doesn't do that, if his/her art doesn't bring people to new heights, then what's the point?"

Mprisond, C-Note, 2014, 9" x 12", Graphite and wax on paper

I want people to walk away from this Work with the sense, "You don't have to be imprisoned, to be imprisoned."


In 2015, C-Note created a series of digital Works based on his 2009, Colored Girl. Colored Girl is a work of wax on paper based on a famous African American celebrity.

In a 2016 interview with Darealprisonart:

DRPA: I notice it's a print, and it's called "Highlighted," does that mean there is more to this piece?

C-Note: Yes, I still have the original that I hope to give and have exhibited in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall, in Washington D.C.. It's a very significant piece, for one, it's a very beautiful piece. It is a piece, and its beauty was made by accident. In other words, I have no clue how it came about. I work in a medium that doesn't get recognized, I work in wax. So I put all these different kinds of wax together and different formulae to dissolve the wax on paper. I had a model. A picture out of a magazine. But I'm not confident as an artist so I don't want people to compare my finished product to the model or image that I used. I called it "Colored Girl." I think it fits. It's clearly a coloration of something, of a woman. But the word "Colored," though it is a pejorative today, was once known as the desired description that African Americans prefer to be described as. "Colored," "Negro," "Black," these were all terms that African-Americans themselves demanded of the press and white audiences; this is what you call us. An example would be W. E. B. Dubois NAACP. It was originally called the National Negro Committee. Booker T. Washington and other famous black activists before him, demanded that whites call us "Negroes." So three years after founding the National Negro Committee, W. E. B. Dubois changed the name to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That's proof enough that blacks demanded that they be called "Colored." So "Colored Girl," what is that? Any black girl, and that's pretty much the response that I have gotten from this piece. It's funny because I used a famous person for this piece, but for my own insecurities I never named the person in this piece and all sorts of blacks swear on a stack of Bibles they know who this person is. I hear the names "Vanessa Williams," "Janet Jackson," "Eva Pigford," all across the spectrum. When blacks see the piece, when I show the original, they just get animated. They just light up. There is this spiritual thing that goes on, we begin to communicate telepathically with one another. African Americans have a general complaint that there is a dearth of positive images of them, so there is this silent communication between me and others that this is what that is. So an accidental discovery, "the piece," and the title, does what it is intended to do, any "Colored Girl."

DRPA: Wow, that's quite a story there.

C-Note: Ah, but it's just one.

Some of these digital works had been inspired by Andy Warhol's 1962, Four Marilyns.

On August 5th, 1962, at the age of 36, Marylin Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates in her home in Brentwood, California. The next day was Andy Warhol's 34th birthday. The death of the film actress deeply affected Warhol, who went on a creativity tear to immortalize the actress. The '4 Marilyn's, like his other Marilyn Monroe works, came from a single publicity photograph from the 1953 film Niagara. As a result, Warhol forever immortalized the actress at 26, the age she starred in Niagara. 

Silicon Valley, Fine Art and Real Estate Broker Anna D. Smith is bringing a "Look Up!" of this Work to Santana Row. "Look Up!" is a journalistic term to describe works of art on Billboards. It is a new trending phenomenon in the art world, mostly from social justice works.

The Warhol inspired "Look Up!" will become the second, in a series of four quarterly exhibitions from the Fall of 2021 - Summer of 2022, to feature works from the Billboard Banksy. 

Just like the first "Look Up!" that spawned an event, this "Look Up!" will hold an art sale of prints and originals by the world's most prolific prison artist.

Coming Soon Anna D. Smith's "Look Up! 2" Hope & Beauty Art Exhibition and Art Sale Dec 27 - Jan 26, 2022*

Stevens Creek Blvd & Winchester Blvd, Santana Row, San Jose, CA 

*Installation subject to a weather delay

Be sure to check out the over 200 Art prints for sale by C-Note.