Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Artist's Quarter

See Me
photo collage

Many people seem to feel put down because they think they can’t afford to buy art; others seem to resent paying a decent price for art objects because artists love what they do; even others won’t buy art but are willing to re-mortgage the house to buy more electronics or fancier cars. And others yet seem conditioned to think that if they do buy art, they should do so only if it matches their décor while replacing the stock market as ‘investment’.
To these people, let me make some things clear: There is a lot of excellent art out there by highly educated, qualified, experienced and well-known artists in a huge range of prices. Other professionals love what they do too. Art lasts longer and retains more value than electronics or even most cars. We are attracted to things that have or generate emotion and meaning for us, that confirm who we are or that carry us beyond ourselves, and by our very interest in them, by our very attraction to them, THEY WILL INTEGRATE NATURALLY INTO OUR ENVIRONMENT if we bring them home.
There are so many misrepresentations about art besides these!
Art images are everywhere, in some places more egalitarian and accessible than even books and libraries, than even public swimming pools and hockey rinks. There are as many unemployed MBAs and as many nameless scientists or engineers as unemployed or unknown artists out there, there are as many athletes without agents as artists without galleries. It is entirely possible for an artist to live a decent life, one no less poor or decadent than most people’s.
Yet, ‘the average person’ seems to think of artists as somehow singularly unemployable and governments that they are therefore undeserving of attention. The ‘average person’ also seems to cherish the ridiculous ideas that artists are
1)     perforce recyclers or beautifiers of society’s discarded objects and garbage,
2)     decorators with no regard for the colour of people’s home decors;
3)     the ever-ready donors of their works for the benefit of charities and the improvement of society;
4)     those who will entertain children until these can be gainfully employed;
5)     if they are women, only artists after they are everything else first, and if they are men, arrogant, self-focused bastards and
6)     those who will teach all they know to others so that everyone else can pretend they are artists too;
While it clings to these self-serving beliefs, society, glutton for images though it is, will perpetuate the misconceptions that
a)      f you were a good artist you’d be rich and famous;
b)     you can’t make a living as an artist;
c)     if Picasso or Rothko can make millions, why shouldn’t any other person who picks up a brush?;
d)     and anyway, thanks to computers and the internet, not everyone needs to make art  to be an artist, all one needs is the copy and paste skill;
e)     art is vastly overpriced, inaccessible or undecipherable;
f)     artists are egomaniacs who use intellectual subterfuge to confound;
g)     artists are superior humans even as students or amateurs;
h)     artists love what they do so they don’t need to be paid for it;
i)     art appreciates over time and therefore is good investment, especially since the artist doesn’t get a cut of the increased value and even better after the artist dies and
j)     everyone is creative and artistic therefore everyone IS an artist, especially as a child and/or after retirement.
If she could, I’m sure my maternal grandmother would call down to me from wherever she is to say, “Patientia” (Spanish for ‘patience’) in her soft, all-accepting voice. I’m trying to follow her advice. I sometimes wish I had her personality. But I don’t, and really, I have to exercise extreme self-discipline not to blow up when I hear such inane generalizations, especially since they inspire parents, educators, politicians and educational policy makers. They certainly seem to motivate our governments.
Ai caramba!


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