‘To art or not to art, that is the question’ percolating around in my mind a lot lately. What relevance does making art have in light of all of the threats and issues from within and from without that we all see everyday now? I see it in the global theater of politics as well as the local and national stage of all walks of life including the arts. Many will say that is exactly why we must make art and that also might be so. The mobile art mall [fair] seems to have become the mode of operation for the majority of artists and galleries. The clamor to gain any attention possible has risen to a fever pitch and if you happen to be a shy soul good luck with finding your place in the sun.
The top galleries have arrived at Monday morning sales meetings to see if quotas have been met and unwanted inventory cleared from the shelves. The pressure to ‘sell’ dominates all interactions and salesmanship has become one of the most desired skills of all. This might sound cynical and it is but a little dose of cynicism I have always found does me good. The dynamics that drive the markets is brutally efficient and with little care or concern for anyone’s feelings or ambitions.
This dynamic combined with the creative force all real artists experience at a deep level is and will be the greatest challenge to resolve individually and eventually, in my view, globally. The seduction of being recognized and accepted drives the majority of artists. But what one notices immediately and will collide with when stepping into the significant art world is the massive chasm that seems to surround the marketplace that prevents most from ever being seen in any substantial way.
That art world that we see selects very carefully who it will allow to come in but always, always, always, with an agenda behind it. So what are we to do to combat the status quo and allow for some glimmer of opportunity for each of us? In the book world a publisher these days won’t even touch a book unless the author has spent many years developing a platform of followers that they will bring in to the publishers circle. In other words each must create their own followers and swell of interest. EVERY gallery, at their particular level, relies on this when considering solo shows namely that the artist has fostered a well developed following that will come into the galleries fold. Yes the work must be acceptable but that tends not to be enough. We can and must build our own art world in essence if that is important to you. I have always found that one patron or supporter can make a career so heroic amounts of effort is notno mistake, being a part of the art world will challenge everyone who chooses this and short of determination and resilience there are no secrets for success.
There are things about art that I love and also absolutely hate. I hate unbridled ambition that will step on anybody to gain something ,anything for themselves. I hate the chameleons who will change their work to please the public views of taste and opinion. I hate the power of notoriety and fame as a means of making successful shows. I hate those who try to rub shoulders with power and influence in the hope of finding their fame and opportunity. i hate seeing those who have lost the ability to be human because of art. Are these all accepted things in the art world? For sure but I still hate them.
But what I love about art is when the pureness of creation finds a way out of us almost as servants of some greater force. I still love a great piece that hits me in the soul wherever I find it. I love when I cross paths with those who are passionate about what they do regardless of their obstacles. I love when someone has mastered and dedicated themselves to some artistic craft and shares that with me not wanting anything from me in return. I love the artistic experience whatever that might be. It shows the best of who we are and can be. I used to care about how that creative process came through me. I am a painter right? I am a sculptor right? ‘I must always be that’ was the argument I would hear inside. Now I care less how the creative thing shows itself. I am not a slave to art. If we want… everything we do can be art. Eating, dreaming,writing, thinking, seeing, hearing. Renovating a house; Growing flowers in your garden;cloud gazing; Making bread in an oven. All can be art. ‘To art or not to art’ that was the question. The answer might be easier than I thought..