Roger Simon's Feb. 4 column ("Some Notes for Audiences on the Fine Art of Criticizing Artists") embodied some unfortunately common feelings of nonartists observing modern art--a lack of confidence in knowing what one likes and a lack of the vocabulary to share what one sees.
The tone of his article reinforced the inferior feelings that untrained observers are conditioned to feel around art they don't immediately understand.
There is no faux pas in asking a painter, "Why is this part of your piece this way?" just as in asking a writer, "What did you mean when you wrote . . . ?" Art is open to countless interpretations by the viewers, and often the viewer pleasantly surprises the artist in what he or she finds in the work.
ALICE BASINGER, Los Angeles