What I Meant Was-

Sometimes, the art scene just gets me down.Early on, there was an intimidation factor. I was a country girl who somehow got turned on to Abstract Expressionism, and I was hungry for more. I felt conspicuous in galleries, and I didn't understand the banter, and none of my friends were into it. Love of art, painting in particular, propelled me over the hurdle.Then there was the inkling, uncomfortable, pestering feeling that none of it mattered. "Truth" and "beauty" were bantered about with nary a nod toward the blind romance necessary to sustain what felt like a conceit. After a 10-year journey, I've finally made my peace with that. (Art does matter. How that epiphany came to me in a hospital room doorway in the middle of the night is a story for another time.)But man oh man, do I still get sick of the Scene.The who's who, the posing, the cultivated weirdness, the inaccessible and oftentimes irrelevant goals of various art crowds. The institutional bloodsucking. The lack of heart. The laziness. The whining. My god, the whining.1. Money should fall from the sky. 2. They don't get it. (It's them, not me.) 3. I never get a show. 4. The commoners don't appreciate my art. 5. I have to work a job to make ends meet. 6. The newspaper didn't rain praise upon me.Of course, not all artists or art patrons are guilty (some are too busy working hard doing what they do), but moaning has become so endemic that I can't help but wonder if they're teaching Commercial Martyrdom 101 in art school these days. I know at times life is particularly chock full of hard knocks-for everyone. But why so much Strum und Drang coming from the art sector? Are some artists misguided into believing that, say, accountants are living the dream they've always had? In some ways, I do believe schools are partially to blame for the dearth of perspective. Taught about art history's greats and led to believe, because it improves the financial streams, that anyone can be a paradigm-shifting artist, many students come out of the insular art school womb to discover that the culture is indifferent. It's a shock to the system many graduates face, but the ego-building in fine art programs makes those BFAs particularly vulnerable.Not that I'm a wise old sage or anything, but I have learned a thing or two. In the interest of holiday giving, I'd like to share with you, dear reader, these obvious nuggets of experience: If they don't "get it," ask yourself why. (Are they dumb? drugged? or-egads-bored?) Buying art and appreciating art are not synonymous. Everyone has to work a job that entails tasks that don't necessarily make our souls sing. (Get over that one right now.) And, finally: Press releases, emails, phone calls, and face-to-face chats are invaluable. Know your art dealers, museum directors, gallery owners, established artists, and media contacts. I can't stress this enough.Last but not least, money does not fall out of the sky. Making a living making art is hard work, plain and simple.And that, for now, is the last of my whining.

Comments

John Reeves 11 years, 12 months ago

Here's another acorn for the nuggets: become disciplined about making your work. (I often need this advice).

Art, glad to see some new words from you on these pages.

Keith, limited editions are a part of the gallery machine. Archival pigment prints are not cheap. Check out jen bekman's 20x200 archival pigment prints @ $20. http://www.20x200.com/ Locally, Image Works can make prints from your original files or negatives.

DOTDOT 11 years, 12 months ago

" Are some artists misguided into believing that, say, accountants are living the dream they've always had?" Hehe. Like going to art school. :-)

Keith 11 years, 12 months ago

Amen Leslie, I can't count the number of times I've heard at least three of your list of 6. By the way, my brother in law the accountant loves his job.

P.S. My current favorite art word is giclee, used to justify high prices for inkjet prints.

Caterina Benalcazar 11 years, 12 months ago

Thanks Leslie for that bit of wisdom! Whining in general is annoying and a topic I seem to whine about a lot. There is, however, a fine line between bitching and whining, and I generally try and hope to stay on the correct side of it. And ultimately, the pretentious whinings of the art world is what drives us unwashed masses to keep conversations centered around the weather and parking issues downtown. We're tired of hearing it!

Also, for those art appreciators wanting to buy, ask galleries and artists about the possibility of layaway. It sounds tacky, I know, but you might be surprised how willing people are to work with you.

I think I'm going to go install some figurative meditations on gender and the weather on my front lawn now. They will be for sale. Yay for snow.

lazz 11 years, 12 months ago

Bravo, Leslie. Well said. To this -- Know your art dealers, museum directors, gallery owners, established artists, and media contacts. -- I would suggest adding "patrons," well-healed and otherwise. Lots of folks would like to buy a nice, reasonably priced piece of art to give as a gift or put up in the home, office or shop, and if they have the opportunity to chat with the artist, however briefly, the artwork now also has a little story behind it ... "Yes, it's by a local artist, a very interesting person, we had a cup of coffee ..." and then, if the artist continues to be accessible, the patron might come looking for more ... I never really understood struggling artists hanging out with other struggling artists and turning their noses up at the chance to sit and chat with four or five bankers, salesmen or real-estate brokers -- people with disposable income ... No need to be disingenuous, either. Making honest contact to create an honest deal is, as you say, Leslie, part of the reality ,..

Jill Ensley 11 years, 12 months ago

"but the ego-building in fine art programs makes those BFAs particularly vulnerable"

Damn straight. Having just come out of Professional Asshole Seminar, I can attest to this. I drew a sketch one day of our table, the egos lit up the room like fireflies. Some bright, some blinding, some flickering. It's those blinding bastards I'm sick of. They don't (usually) have the work to back it up.

And like Caterina said, most artists and galleries will work with a buyer. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's how higher priced art out of galleries is sold, in installments. As someone who regularly has trouble paying rent, a little something is better than an eviction notice and a dark room full of canvases. You can always make more paintings. I'm sort of kicking myself for not working with someone who was interested in a painting of mine. They wanted it, but the price was a little high for them. I'd just finished it and hadn't yet cut the cord. Next time.

Jill Ensley 11 years, 12 months ago

And shows what I know. I'd assumed giclee prints were some kind of "special" canvas prints. I agree it's a little snooty to concoct a Franch term for an inkjet print, but still....there is a difference. It's all about longevity, editions, future value, and the "consumer" not feeling like they've been swindled. If I printed some photos on my printer, they probably won't be "archival" and I have the ability to just print more if I didn't set a limit. The price tends to reflect that. If I chose to edition them, make "giclee" prints, I could charge more. Lasts longer, more rare, more money.

But then we get into the debate about how long should art last. Does it need to be kept in an underground vault, protected from harsh changes in temperature, from light? None of it is going to last forever. Who enjoys it then and what purpose does it serve but to increase/decrease in value.

It's funny, I just read an article in the new edition of American Photo that listed about 20 major photographers and gave advice on whether to hold, buy, or sell. It advised people to sell a particular photographer's color work from the 70's before people realized they were going to fade. Oy.

leslie 11 years, 11 months ago

Lazz, John, & Caterina: Excellent points. I can't believe I didn't mention the coffee with patrons angle, as that is one I swear by. Keep in mind that people who buy art generally have friends who also buy art.

Keith: Surely the accountant has found the glamour he'd hoped for, yes?

And Jill: Oy, indeed. The art-as-investment approach is a topic I haven't fully considered or contemplated. Clearly, I'm no player. That said, folks, keep your prints out of direct sunlight!

Jill Ensley 11 years, 11 months ago

They loves the eggs. My prof. last semester had an entire section licked off.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.