Do Whales Have Scrotums?
Like my artist and non-artist peers that do art shows and whatever else it takes to earn a decent living lately, I have been busy with several different projects large and small.
And I read.
I read lots of things.
I haven’t been sharing the writing lately because quite frankly most artists are artists because their teachers in school were so tired of their pollyanna whining, they stuck them in a corner with some fingerpaint and called them either “special” or “creative” or both, just to get them to shut the hell up so the other kids could learn something.
I think so because I was often in the corner with the fingerpaint. (I think there is a nun being punished somewhere for teaching me how to write as well.)
The artists who are not artists are either the artisans (what an overused word – just like “craft” and “creative”) or the enterprising bullshitters that have figured out a way to call themselves artists and attach themselves to shows like barnacles on a whale’s scrotum. Lots of people, myself at one time included, have figured it may be best to find those “buy/sell” vendors and those studio outfits that pose as real artists and expose them as charlatans in cahoots with evil and/or stupid show directors.
But wait a minute, these evil-doers are juried in, are they not? Today I just read some moron jumping for joy because the Plaza Art Fair just validated his reason for existance as an artist. I have seen horrible, if not just headscratchingly incompetent artwork get into some of the “best” art shows in the country. This includes the studio artists, the buy/sell vendors, the posers, some really over-rated artists, you – if you are a show artist, and finally, me.
Believe me, there is some bad art out there in some supposedly good shows and some really good art in some amateur rinky-dinks – but that’s not exactly what I am writing about.
Some of these posers, buy/sellers, and studio outfits are really nice people with really nice work. Some of the things I am hearing from supposedly or presumably educated artists is far worse than what needs to be said. It is you, the “artists” that are stooping lower than low. Pontificating as to what art is acceptable or not at a show you do not manage is not conveying any sort of class whatsoever. Allowing via silence, an environment where self-proclaimed artist unions and websites may censor and belittle artists that speak up – that is far, far worse than what these merchants are doing. Calling out real or imagined frauds while allowing the most blatent fraudulent practices so you can get a piece of the pie? Really?
What’s worse – allowing some juried work to be included to a show even though it’s made by a studio or turning a blind eye to the sorry-assed, time honored practices of allowing friends and associates into shows year after year after year? I know good intentions by good people prefaced the idea discovering charlatans and pointing at them while exclaiming that our children are starving because of them. The intentions were noble, but the studio/production houses and the buy/sell vendors are not our enemies.
We need to keep our eyes on the prize.
On the prize.
What’s the answer? I suspect we need to stop pointing at all these insignificant pawns and start looking at the sociopathic, opportunistic pieces of garbage that are blacklisting and blocking and censoring and screwing those of us who are artists with messages to convey through our art rather than picking on some poor bastard who had enough sense to stay away from the fingerpaint and understands how to turn a dollar without running around screaming that life isn’t fair.
Perhaps we just need to make better work, charge a fairer price, ignore the hype from the shows, quit relying on shows to determine worth of artists (hint: we determine the worth of the show – always.), become better at business, quit perpetuating the caste system at shows, and quit patronizing shows that do not include the caliber of artists we want to be associated with on any given weekend.
In schoolyard vernacular, we need to quit picking on the smaller kids and we need to figure out who the bullies really are. There are some of these studio outfits and buy/sell guys that I would much rather be next to at a show than some of the arrogant, conniving, censoring, manipulative and deceptive little monsters I have met at some shows and dealt with on the union site, on that laughable review site, and over at Ma’s.
We need to quit picking on the easily picked on and look at where the real problems lie.
But I fear we will not, because we will not ever control our own destiny, I doubt we will keep our eye on the prize. We’ll just let a show director do it for us, because we need to get our share of the pie while we point fingers everywhere else.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” – Burke
“It’s duck season.” – Bugs Bunny