Monday, March 7, 2011

The problem with art and understanding...

The gallery I am with got a review of our most current show, "It's a Matter of Time" in a local rag.  I am rather pissed about this review to say the least.  As such I'd like to rant for a bit.  You don't have to "listen" but I would value your perspective if you'd care to offer it.  I will return to the regularly scheduled odd artworks after this segway. 


The way the gallery currently functions is an interesting process that is only tangentially relevant to the review.  But an important tangent nevertheless.

Currently, there are only 3 (sometimes 4) resident artists creating art in this collective cooperative artist run gallery that at one point was home to 24 artists.  24 is a bit too many...3 is not enough.  To fill the gap, we have been having guest artists take part in our shows.  This has been interesting.  When the balance of artists was at a healthy ratio, there was a great deal of synergy between the artworks.  The pieces that each art was bringing on any given show theme idea "talked" to other pieces so that there was a popping of energy in the space.  There was a fluid visual movement between the works of art.  This was excellent.

What I loved about all the diverse voices of artists in the gallery of before was that when a show worked, all the bouncing of ideas spoke in chorus and supported the other works making them in fact stronger.  The collaborations between artists is very lovely and very necessary.  However, because these guest artists seem often are unable to articulate their ideas in clear and lucid terms or because their egos do not allow them to work well with others, that synergy is gone.  The gallery as a whole seems somewhat static now with very little of that former popping between works.  That might be just from my perspective, however and I will own that if it is true.

The two guest artists that have shown thus far have been young 20-something males.  The current guest artist at the gallery seems to be a prancing pony of an individual.  It was a wonder that there was any room for the artwork due to the massive size of his ego.  Now at this point I need to come very clean and state a few factoids:
  1. I am a short, round, white woman approaching 40.
  2. I have a career as a violence prevention educator that only vaguely has anything to do with my work as an artist.
  3. I love my work as an educator and will not give it up.
  4. In a job interview I was asked if there was anyone I would not be able to work with to which I answered, "Arrogant white males who think they are always right and are entitled to everything."
  5. I am rather arrogant, my ownself.
  6. I am married to a very wonderful man who happens to be a feminist (in other words I don't hate all men...just the assholes)
  7. I will accept and use criticism when needed.
  8. I love making art and will not give it up.
Okay, now that that is out of the way...The guest artists that have been working at the gallery seem to be entitled brats who are unable to ingest critique about their work.  Their work seems to lack (yes, I am being rather global in my opinions here but please see facts 1 and 5) firstly experience and second a narrative presence.

Experience is gained.  One has to live life, take the licks and roll with the waves. No other way around it.  Also you have to listen and watch.

Narrative must be honed.  First and foremost when deciding to show a piece of art, the artist needs to ask "why the hell am I going to put this out for public consumption?"  Second needs to be "what does this matter to the viewer?"  If the answers to these questions is ever "because I can," I doubt that the art will have any relevance to the community.

So here's the tie in piece.  The reviewer for this local rag was also a 20-something white male (SWM).  I should not be shocked when confronted with the fact that the 20 SWM would choose to focus on the other 20 SWM's artwork.  What is sad is that neither of these guys have any perspective.  This is evidenced by the reviewers equation of the wax pieces to Jospeh Beuys' wax apology pieces from the Fluxus Movement as well as the the reviewers final summation that all the pieces in a show on time focused on decay.  Neither of these were the case from my perspective.

What was interesting to me was the brush off my piece about communication as a mere personal romance.  Indeed a piece about dripped wax was termed in sexual energy, but a conversation about the rotation of the moon and the ongoing dialogue of people regardless of opinions is apparently banal.  I am angry at his brush off.  Perhaps I should have created a piece about wanton sexual encounters or described various genital in successive states of engorgement during arousal. Perhaps a suite of pieces like this:
...a simple piece that focuses on masturbation.  Ahh, but this piece is a fiction and masturbation is only fun for practice.  The community can't really create anything long term if all its artists do is present artwork that is done for the sake of "because I can."  

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