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Hollow Trees

I haven’t been saying much lately.

I read a lot and I’ve been working on some new ideas for people to see at the shows this year. I did not go south again this year and I have been absolutely amazed at the herd mentality of some people claiming to be artists “doing art fairs” in some forums and blogs on the internet – even the ones that kicked me out for my seditious and, and, and incendiary writing.

So, I’ve been reading, thinking, writing, and painting – I just haven’t said much lately. But now that the early shows are about done, I do have a few things to share with the shows, the artists, the “vendors”, and anyone else that gives a damn or pretends to give a damn about selling art this summer.

The season has started for artists and also for people hoping to be thought of as artists at the art shows this year. Generally the season for me and my peers starts in the midwest with a few “preseason” shows in March and April. No one makes a ton of money at them, but they garner a fairly respectable crowd and they help the artists and those “wannabe” vendors determine what may or may not be successful in terms of inventory and sales this year. It beats the hell out of traveling to Florida and coming home with a hotel bill. So we stay up here to shovel our driveways and prognosticate our entire regular season based on how well a crowd of people suffering from Cabin Fever will respond to new ideas and techniques. These little shows would never work in October or November – but they work in early Spring or at least they give us a reason to put the work out and see what happens. It’s what we do as artists – and the non-artists also get a chance to see how hard they will need to throw their crap at their trailer trash as well as our treasured patrons in order to see what will stick to the proverbial wall.

I have some suggestions for people to think about because I am not smart enough to get out of this dying industry. I stubbornly cling to the hope that the bad guys will go away and my customers will return to the good shows en masse.

Shows:

The shows make a big deal out of providing water and toilets and snacks to the artists as a way of showing their remarkable hospitality. They also flood the show with their t-shirted volunteers that walk past the booth every 4.2 minutes asking: “Can I get you anything?”. 

Stop. Just stop.

Grown adults can provide their own bottles, or camelskins, or barrels filled with the beverage of their choice. They can bring their own lunch. Hell, they can bring their own apple and granola bar. Stop with the hospitality. Want to show hospitality? Bring buyers. Bring buyers to the show. That’s all the buy/sell as well as genuine artists want at the show – buyers. If you cannot bring in buyers, at least drop the booth fee and keep your water, crackers, and apples. The bottom line? If you can’t bring in buyers, why are you having a show?

Stop telling people at the show they can buy for a lower price on Sunday. It’s not true and it’s foul. Almost as bad are the shows that say in media interviews: “You don’t need to buy, the artists are just as happy to talk about their work with you.”. No. Artists come to the shows to sell their work so they can pay their bills and provide for their families. Encourage buyers to buy art at the show.

Stop the charity auctions during the show. Why do artists that jumped through all the hoops, juried in, paid for a booth, and shouldered all the travel costs and expenses have to compete with their own work in a charity auction during the show? Yes, your show is a benefit, but who cares? As far as I and the other artists at your “benefit” show are concerned – our bank accounts are first on the benefit list. Bring in buyers.

Bring in buyers. Not bodies, buyers. If you need to have stiltwalkers to bring in bodies, then you have a craft show, not an art show.

Bring in buyers.

Stop saying 15,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 souls came to your show. Just stop it. Bring in buyers.

Keep your pompous judges out of my way when I am working with buyers. I bought the space at the show, it is my booth for the duration of the show. Not the judges’. If you are going to have judges, make sure they are qualified and competent and above all else, respectful.

Jury better. Stop with the excuses and the games and jury better. Display some kind of mature business attitude and communicate with applicants. Stop with the cutesy “please apply next year” rhetoric. If slides look like hell, say so. If the work doesn’t fit with what the show wants or envsions, say so. If you don’t like the artist, say so. Stop taking money in jury fees you don’t deserve. Act like you have a pair and communicate. Don’t ignore pleas from artists to communicate, be professional if you are going to have an art show by bringing in artists and, oh, bring in buyers.

Neighbors of mine for this year:

When I am busy selling, you had better be vomiting or bleeding and for a good reason before you interrupt me when I am talking with a patron.

If you don’t have a tidbit or tip about a show to share, do not come to me to ask about what I think about this or that show.

When I am setting up my booth, I don’t want to explain when, where, and how I got my tent – what kind it is, or even if I like it.

I am not going to explain my art to you during a show.

I will never, ever, ever, ever discuss tent weights with you. End of story. Go to Ma’s forum for that stuff.

When you push that 4 gallons of water out of the corners of your pathetic EZ-Down, someone or someone’s artwork is standing not far from where you just ejaculated your rainwater reservoir. Think about that the next time you are at a rainy show and your want to prove what a moron you really are.

Stay within your marked space. Don’t you even think of putting your crap out in the aisle.

Customers and non-customers:

I don’t care if you scored one of my $200 paintings for $35 at the crappy little silent auction the show is having. Don’t tell me about it. Don’t come ask me to sign it for you. If you do come to tell me about it, I am going to sell you another painting out of  my booth until you either buy one or walk out of the booth.

I am there to sell art. I don’t care what your art teacher said I would do for you. I am at the show to sell art. If your art teacher wants an interview, tell him or her I am happy as hell to come into their classroom on Monday and conduct the interview in the middle of his or her workday in his or her workspace.

I am not going to conduct a clinic on art in my booth so you can become an artist. Want to be an artist? Go to school like I did. Would you stop an accountant at their job to ask how they do their work? A lawyer? A surgeon? A meth dealer? Why do you get to ask me in my booth about how you can do what I do? (I don’t know either.)

Don’t photograph my work. I’ll tolerate you pretending I am not in my own booth, but you may not photograph my work.

Stop thanking me for “sharing”. I didn’t share anything. I am not at the show to entertain you. I will be polite to you, but I am not at the show to amuse you as you stroll the art fair. I am at the show to sell my work to people interested in buying art. Brief compliments and criticisms are welcome but my job is to sell art, it’s how I earn my living. Stop accusing me of abusing drugs to make my work, and by the way, I don’t care that you wonder how my mind works or that my work would never fit in with the crap you already have in your home. I am not a fast-food cashier or a waitress for you to browbeat while your friends chuckle. I am an artist.

—-

None of this will happen. The shows will pretent they didn’t read it. The artists will think I am talking about someone else. The non-artists will think I am talking about non-artists, not them because they think they have convinced others that they are artists. (Think about that one, it’ll make sense.) Non-patrons will take umbrage, but not change their behavior. I know nothing will change right away.

But people will know I wrote about it and after all, if hollow trees indeed get chopped down – do they make any noise?

-Munks

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Pass Me Some of that Victory Gin, Winston

St. Paul was called out on the road to Damascus. He was a prolific and vicious persecutor before he received his epiphany, his catharsis – his abrupt realization he was betting on the wrong horse. The poor guy was simply doing what he was good at doing. But he was a smart guy – sometime between the Divine Smack and the moment he hit the dust under his noble steed, Saul’s paradigms done shifted and the rest is history.

While I am certainly not a St. Paul by any remote or twisted stretch of the imagination, I was still struck by a cathartic moment of my own. I was standing on the side of a strip of crumbling pavement in a pathetic little suburb of Des Moines taking some pictures of little more than bitter irony.

Des Moines itself is probably home to the largest trailer court between Denver and Chicago, and if it isn’t – it should be. This little suburb in the metro is not known for anything more than a Walmart and a tenacious anti-speeding program. The street of which I speak is a four-lane thoroughfare bisecting a tiny little community with an artificially low 25 mph speed limit. “Radar Heights” as it has come to be known over the years – is famous for it’s apparently heavy-handed; manipulative use of speed traps.

Their over-enforcement of traffic laws presumably led to an increased level of technology designed to catch bad guys by creating even more bad guys to catch through the use of tricky speed limit and some well-placed cameras. They slithered from ridiculous to asinine on the enforcement scale in a little hamlet where the median age of it’s citizens is probably just about approaching 87. One sees more white knuckles at “10 and 2” with a wrinkled nose and cat-eyed glasses just barely peering over a steering wheel while riding their brakes down a hill in this town than not. These same good people would not dream of ever driving at least 25 mph unless it’s on the interstate. They’ll be ok with the speed monitoring, everyone else gets sucker-punched by a nosy camera and a creepy system.

Many locals in this area of the heartland – a fertile land of corn, meth, blind faith, carjackings, unlicensed cats, and craft shows – know all too well about Radar Heights. Most people in the know don’t risk going there. Many don’t want to support the speed traps, so they avoid them and go somewhere else to spend their money. It was that way back when all the good guys could really use was a radar, and it’s even more true now with the cameras and the kangaroo court system that protects everyone except the accused. The empty storefronts along University Avenue stand as a sarcastic salute to the decreased sales tax revenue and increased fines spun with golden cameras hidden by bends in the road and collected by an evil little town every single day.

The good guys claim the enforcement is for safety and we are too frequently reminded that driving is a privilege, not a right. I remember I was stopped once there because the officer saw an empty child seat in the backseat and wanted to make sure my child was not wandering around in the back of my car. I repeatedly assured him my child was at home with his mother and I thanked him for his concern. Still had to show my license and registration though. When he handed them back, he reminded me that driving is a privilege, not a right.

A privilege, not a right.

There’s always something to hide behind: “safety”, “the privilege of driving”, a well-placed shrub and a radar, a traffic camera and a fixed system that ignores being able to face one’s accuser.

Since that day the policeman was worried about my carseat and more specifically since 9-11, we now have drones. We have speed cameras. We have a recession that is burying city and county governments in bills, pensions, and waste without adequate revenue coming in to keep everyone and everything fat and happy. We have lawyers and wordsmiths who can craft laws calling speed camera violations “civil violations” rather than citations that can be fought in traffic court. When citizens don’t pay, the system is set against them with levies and other little tricks to keep the coffers plump, all while maintaining the system is in place to keep everyone safe. We have legislatures that ignore these issues and not nearly enough politicians that have a clue.

And so it goes . . . Just recently the county out here announced an escalation in the technology: speed cameras that work in moving cruisers. It’s all so headspinning. Disgusting, but not surprising – why park your little creepy robot or attach it to a box on a pole? Just take it out for a drive and make some money for the local government and the traffic camera-pimping businesses they work with daily. The ante keeps going up. More toys, more criminals, more money, more toys, more criminals, . . .

So anyway, I am standing near a curb in Radar Heights watching the 25 mph traffic crawl by me and the contraption that caught my eye. A disgusting little symbol of what has gone wrong since 9-11 and probably even before. A little tiny car full of technology which appeared to be parked illegally between the street and the sidewalk. It was sitting there whirring and snapping pictures and collecting data on citizens as they simply drove down the street.

It was monitoring.

Monitoring and making money.

I shook my head and that’s when it seemed right to me. I was pimp-slapped by Big Brother on the road to Des Moines and I suddenly understood. This machine and the authorities that put it into place – really care about me and the citizens of this community, as well as for any poor, unenlightened slobs like me that happen to drive by. They care about you and me. It’s not the money it’s about safety. I did not understand before. Tears welled up in my eyes.

I understand now. I get it.

A hundred years ago, automobiles replaced horses. Unlike the typical horse, the cars soon needed license plates to confirm whether the owner paid taxes to pay for the much needed paving of roads. The plates also identified the owners and the privilege of traveling was born. No one cared when you were driving a horse, because they didn’t have license plates or licensed drivers.

The license plate is a tether. It used to confirm taxes were paid, now it confirms who to send the citation to based on the observations of a machine and a rubber-stamp from an unbridled bureaucrat in front of a terminal somewhere. It’s everyone’s fair share. Everyone is equal, some are more equal than others, but it works!

The speed cameras are just about popping up faster than cases of chlamydia in a college dorm and they are working. The system is working. The money is rolling in. The people either pay now or pay later when they realize the system is stacked and their fine will be confiscated if not paid willingly.

It’s working.

Our streets are so much safer with traffic cameras that no one can produce numbers to prove it. Insurance rates are dropping so fast no one can keep up. My thought on the side of the road – my catharsis? Simple. Just combine the notion of identifying signs like license plates with people instead of cars to make the world even safer.

We have experienced all kinds of violence: shootings, kidnappings, bombings, and other horrible events that have only rarely happened up to now. We need to make a safer world where no one is hurt and everyone is safe all the time. Yes, we can of course confiscate all the bombs and guns and duct tape, but what we need to do is assign a number to everyone in the country, code it like a scanner or a QR code, and have the good guys monitor us all day with their cameras and their civil infractions.

We should have everyone of course pay for their code annually and understand they will be fined (significantly) for not wearing their code on their front and back at all times just like license plates on our vehicles. Not a law – this “administrative policy” (civil violations) could be further justified once the citizenry understand that wearing their codes makes the good guys’ jobs easier, the world safer, and of course they will be fined ruthlessly if observed by a camera or a good guy trying to keep everyone safe. It’s all part of changing behavior for the benefit of all.

Most importantly, everyone will finally comprehend that commuting, walking, interacting, and living in our society is a privilege and not a right.

We’ll all be so much happier and safer with our QR codes and our monitors. You’ll see.

Imagine.

No more bombings. No more shootings. No more traffic crashes.

The good guys will know where everyone is and what they are doing. If you aren’t doing anything wrong then there is nothing to worry about or be afraid of because our world will be safe and we’ll all hold hands as we sing.

It’s what we have been slowly sliding into for a hundred years now.

It’s all about safety and unlike freedom – safety is a right not a privilege.

Pass me some of that Victory Gin, Winston.

I love Big Brother and I always have.

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The Corner Booth Now on Facebook

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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 1:01 PM on Thu, Mar 14, 2013:
For the naia to “champion”? Huh?
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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 10:49 AM on Wed, Mar 06, 2013:
Hmmm. I wonder if they have horse shows in places like Dubai or Saudi Arabia?
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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 4:43 PM on Mon, Mar 04, 2013:
Hey “Ma”!! — $25 avg jury fee? Not in the last 5 years!
(https://twitter.com/MunksUncensored/status/308618601525551106)

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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 4:35 PM on Mon, Mar 04, 2013:
“I’ve never been one to follow the heard.” either.
(https://twitter.com/MunksUncensored/status/308616789359722496)

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Tweet from MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored)

MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 4:35 PM on Mon, Mar 04, 2013:
“I’ve never been one to follow the heard.” either.
(https://twitter.com/MunksUncensored/status/308616789359722496)

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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 1:45 PM on Mon, Feb 25, 2013:
“All my shows are moneymakers.” Whatever.
(https://twitter.com/MunksUncensored/status/306127790737092610)

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MunksUncensored (@MunksUncensored) tweeted at 7:08 PM on Mon, Feb 25, 2013:
Those darn blood clots. People shouldn’t catch those. I can’t make this stuff up.
(https://twitter.com/MunksUncensored/status/306208974632517632)

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