Townie guide to... artful dodging

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Molly Murphy, painter, illustrator, curator at the Bourgeois Pig and Lawrence Arts Center, nun-such

Years in Lawrence: "Off and on for more years than I can count."

But really, what is art?

"I hear art is whatever the artist deems it, and I suppose I should support that notion."

Favorite medium: painting, sculpture, or Patricia Arquette?

"Though most of my shows consist of oil painting, and my first love is drawing, I have yet to be offered Patricia Arquette to work with so I won't pigeon-hole myself into painting and drawing. I tend to choose women-in-distress style subject matter, and Patricia could certainly fit in there somewhere."

Is being an artist in Lawrence like being a douchebag in a fraternity? That is to say, are you surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals? Is this a help, in that you have a support group, or is it a hindrance, in that you've got a buttload of competition?

"The pool of artists here seems to be growing into more of a collaborative unit. I don't see it so much as competition as I do support and a drive to accomplish more within the community. Maybe when our army of gesso-wielding force is fully trained, we will ambush the frat houses with a passively annoying display of performance art-you never know."

Is it a cutthroat market for gallery space in Lawrence? Kind of like mimes and jugglers fist fighting one another for boardwalk space in Atlantic City?

"With new spaces opening, Fresh Produce throwing one night shows, Sally Pillar doing group shows that bring in tons of artists, and all the restaurants and bars that have stepped up their exhibition opportunities and spaces, I think there are chances for every level of artist to show work in Lawrence if they want to."

photo

Submitted by artist

How can one make a living at art without painting light dappled cottages or airbrushing caricatures at the county fair?

"Geez. That is a tough one wherever you live, I think. It is necessary to show work outside of Lawrence as well as at home. The art collecting population is not large enough to support everyone who paints or sculpts or performs here. Bands have to record and go on tour. Visual artists have to take a similar approach if they want to 'make it.' Of course, I will be doing pastel caricatures every Friday and Saturday night at the end of the Bourgeois Pig bar. Five bucks."

You also act as curator and manager. Is it fair to call you an "art pimp"?

"I certainly don't manage anyone's art career-I can barely figure out my own-but I do enjoy helping people get a body of work displayed. The last I heard, don't pimps get a cut? I don't book for anywhere that takes any money from the sales except the Lawrence Arts Center, which takes a very minimal and fair commission. They are not a commercial space, rather a community center. They treat the artists pretty well."

Having to deal with other artists on a professional level, do you now hate other artists and-by extension-yourself?

"The self-loathing artist is so passe. It is much more hip to be the overly confident and self-important artist now. Just kidding. Sort of. Overall, I have had fantastic experiences with the Lawrence artists I work with."

Is the Lawrence arts scene deader than Ledger, or is the gnashing of townie teeth over this just a peevish and pessimistic reaction?

"I think the wailing and whining days are over. The last year has proved to many who are in that lot that, with a little initiative and innovation, new opportunities open up. I see more excitement than pessimism these days. I don't think the arts scene was ever even given the chance to die off."