In Chapter 1 of Art as Experience, John Dewey writes:
Order cannot but be admirable in a world constantly threatened with disorder--in a world where living creatures can go on living only by taking advantage of whatever order exists about them, incorporating it into themselves. In a world like ours, every living creature that attains sensibility welcomes order with a response of harmonious feeling whenever it finds a congruous order about it.
For only when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living. And when the participation comes after a phase of disruption and conflict, it bears within itself the germs of a consummation akin to the esthetic.
According to Dewey, our response to the "order" produced by art is rooted in our response to living in a world that is inherently disorderly but that is occasionally punctuated with an "integration with environment and recovery of union." It is this same "integration" that is produced by works of art--they reaffirm our hope that order can be achieved and produce a "harmonious feeling," in this case a feeling that human labor and imagination can momentarily impose order on chaos.
. . .Since the artist cares in a peculiar way for the phase of experience in which union is achieved, he does not shun moments of resistance and tension. He rather cultivates them, not for their own sake, but because of their potentialities, bringing to living consciousness an experience that is unified and total. . . .
Dewey is suggesting that artists (good artists, that is) are distinctive in their ability not merely to acknowledge "resistance and tension" (the world's tendency to thwart "harmonious feelings") but to dwell in them, to accept disorder as a necessary accompaniment to the experience of order. The scientist wishes to conceptualize disorder as a problem to be solved, after which "he passes on to another problem using an attained solution only as a stepping stone"; the artist wishes to capture the "rhythm" involved in the movement from disorder to "attained solution" (the work of art), to exemplify in the work what life feels like to the "living creature." Order is not as satisfying if it can't be contrasted with its always-impending dissolution, and the artist inherently calls attention to the fragility of order, aesthetic and otherwise.
Thus art is not just the ultimate product, the finished sculpture, the musical score, the published book, although these are the immediate gateways by which we enter art's domain (and the achieved work to which we return.) Great art also invites reflection on the process by which the product has been realized, order wrested from "flux." This emphasis on process is inherent in the very possibility of human creativity, since
There are two sorts of possible worlds in which esthetic experience would not occur. In a world of mere flux, change would not be cumulative; it would not move toward a close. Stability and rest would have no being. Equally it is true, however, that a world that is finished, ended, would have no trails of suspense and crisis, and would offer no opportunity for resolution. Where everything is already complete, there is no fulfillment. . . .
(See Wallace Stevens's "Sunday Morning" for a concrete, poetic embodiment of this Deweyan idea. Much of Stevens's work could be taken as an extended reflection on the Deweyan notion of "order" more broadly.)
The emphasis on process is also crucial to Dewey's theory of art as he will develop it in Art as Experience. The "experience" of art includes an awareness of the process by which the work must have taken shape:
Without an act of recreation the object is not perceived as a work of art. The artist selected, simplified, clarified, abridged and condensed according to his interest. The beholder must go through these operations according to his point of view and interest. (Ch. 3, p. 54)
Dewey concludes Chapter 1 with this account of "experience"
Experience in the degree to which it is experience is heightened vitality. Instead of signifying being shut up within one's own private feelings and sensations, it signifies active and alert commerce with the world; at its height it signifies complete interpenetration of self and the world of objects and events. Instead of signifying surrender to caprice and disorder, it affords our sole demonstration of a stability that is not stagnation but is rhythmic and developing. . . .
Experience as Dewey defines it is the irreducible characteristic of life itself, and the most "vital" experience we can have, he will come to claim, is the experience of art.