Letters from the Dear Director Column, Vol. 1-4
My wife and I and a friend who lives in Vietnam all submitted portfolios this summer to a gallery Competition for artistic representation. The gallery is a apparently a well-known gallery in the Soho District in New York City.
We all do have a high opinion of our own workhowever, it was still a bit shocking to discover that all three of us were accepted. We were,of course, delighted to be accepted to a New York City Gallery. We discovered, in discussing this acceptance with the gallery, that there was a "fee" of $1650.00 per artist for a three week show. We were informed this was pretty standard - and that galleries that dont charge such a fee have "hidden costs" the artists must pay for publicity and the opening reception. On top of the $1650 fee, the gallery retains 40% commission on any sales. Artists also pay framing and shipping cost.
The gallery "representation" includes a three week show (each person is given a space 10x10' for their work in a group show), two images on the gallery web site; and representation runs for one year, after which an artist can re-register for another annual fee. Otherwise the artists move on to another gallery. Artists interested in a solo show pay the $1650 fee plus an additional $750 for each 10x5' space.
This is all new to us. My wife and I have shown our workin a variety of west coast galleries; my wife is scheduled to show her work in Paris next September. We have never been asked to pay a fee. We were informed that this was the "New York way" since New York was the center of the art world.The gallery offered us (all three of us) a group show in January of 1999. Of course, we would need to pay $4950 ($1650 x 3) to do this. We were surprised that a New York gallery would have no show scheduled for January (only five months away); we were also surprised that the gallery was so eager to get their payment. Galleries we have dealt with have been much less focussed on getting their hands on the artists money.
We began to smell a scam. Why were we all admitted? What were the odds against that? The gallery informed us that they accepted 100 people out of more than 1000 this year. I am not a mathematician but the odds against three people from the same house being admitted seems pretty staggering. We wondered if anyone was really denied admission in this competition - or was anyone able and willing to pay the fee admissible?
I am writing you to ask if this is really "the New York way"? If not, we believe the New York galleries should know about this because - it is giving them a very bad reputation. People who devote their lives to creating art are quite often the least able to afford fees and hidden costs. Art supplies are expensive; selling art is difficult; galleries already take a large cut of any sale to pay for rent and costs of running their galleries. If this is the "New York way", then we are really disappointed. Better that the buyers of art, those who can afford hidden costs, pay the galleries than the artists who can often not afford to. I appreciate any help you can give me about the typical practices in major art galleries.
Michael J. Clark, Hoa-Lan Tran, Tran Xuan Hoa
Dear Michael, Hoa &Tran,
While it can be difficult to get a show in New York with millions of artists worldwide competing for exhibition space in a comparative handful of galleries, it is generally not the "New York Way" to bilk unsuspecting artists out of their savings. Standard practice for a gallery is to take a commission on sales, usually 50%.
Some co-operative and artist run spaces charge membership fees or hold events like art competitions with small entry fees to raise operational capital, this is not so bad - but anyone who wants thousands of dollars for a little strip of wall is not on the straight and narrow. Lets face it, if a gallery was making money selling art work - which is your goal - they wouldnt be trying to make money emptying your bank account.
Before you write that big check compare the cost of renting a hotel room in Manhattan for a couple of weeks. For the same price you could lean your paintings against a wall on Prince Street. At least you would get a nice vacation and more people would see your work, who knows, you might even make some money.
I wanted to get a show in New York, so I went with my artwork to show it to galleries, it is a pretty far drive from where I live in Dayton, Ohio. I drove to New York in my 1981 Chevy station wagon and went to a lot of galleries. Nobody would look at my art. I did not have money for parking (the first night I slept in my car) so I drove around New York going into the galleries and leaving my car on the street. I got a lot of tickets, but did not care because I was not going to pay them.
I was tired and had not gotten much sleep for a few days and was about to go home but thought that I would go to a few more galleries on 57th Street. I went up to George Adams gallery and waited in line for two hours to show my art. He did not want to look at it because I did not have slides, only real art, and when I went down to get my car it was gone. It turned out that the city had towed my car to some place in Brooklyn and to get it back I had to pay $600.00. The car only cost me $400.00 and I had no money to pay to get it back. They would not give me the stuff that I had in the car, my music tapes, some clothes and some art stuff. How can I get my stuff back.
John Roberts, Dayton, Ohio
First of all no artist should take actual art work to any gallery unless the gallery requests it. You
should send slides to the gallery in the mail with a self addressed stamped envelope. Even with the envelope a lot of gallery owners may just throw your valued slides in the garbage anyway. My advice to artists is to make many copies of slides and to consider 50% of them disposable, that way you will not be disappointed.
Secondly - no one should ever drive a car to Manhattan and leave it unattended on the street. No one should sleep in their car in Manhattan, you are lucky not to have been dragged into the park,
gang-raped or murdered. You were a sucker John, a victim of a bad ass town. There is no way to get your stuff back unless you cough up the money. My advise is forget about it, buy another cheap car and dont drive it into New York City under any circumstance.
I recently received unsolicited e-mail from a web site called www.worldfinearts.com. They said that they had a gallery in New York City, I think it was Abney Gallery, and that I could have a show in their gallery. I was very surprised, because I had neversent any slides or information to this gallery. I guess I was on some mailing list. They had an on-line contract and when I looked at it, there was a huge fee for the show. I think they wanted $2000 for ten feet of wall, some of my paintings are big, so that means I would pay $2000 to show one painting.
How can a gallery offer a show to an artist when they have never seen their art. What kind of gallery is this anyway?
Jenny Roberts, New York City
It seems to me that you have answered your own question. The "kind" of gallery this is, is the kind that wants to take your money and that obviously does not care what type of art that you have. There are a lot of art related businesses out there these days, web sites, art publishers, galleries, that do not care about art, all they care about is making money. These places should be avoided because they will damage your credibility as an artist. Unless a business is artist run and is collecting fees merely to cover operational costs, it should be avoided. Businesses that profit from artist fees collected under the guise of promotional services should be avoided.
Of course the biggest profiteers of all are the so called legitimate business such as Art News, Art In America and Gallery Guide. These two magazines charge artists close to $6000 for a single page ad and Gallery Guide gets $900 for a tiny listing and dot on a map. This is the biggest profit grab of all but - its legitimate!
I am an artist living in Buffalo, NY and rent studio space at the Buffalo Art Studios, a not for profit gallery with studio spaces accommodating some 30 artists with various mediums.
I feel I need to share with you the scam I recently uncovered with what I thought was a reputable and high profile gallery in Manhattan. Jain Marunouchi Gallery advertised their desire to seek out new talent. I submitted a slide portfolio (no fee required) and waited. Word arrived this week. "My work was chosen for a group exhibition for a month in 2000." Wow! I was elated until I read page 2, near the bottom. Send $1000.00 in membership dues and an additional $1000.00 if I wish to be published in ArtNews!! Talk about a rip off!!! I brought the letter in for other artists to read as well as show it to the Hallwalls Gallery (Non-Profit) downstairs from us. Everyone was amazed at this gallerys audacity. What artist has $1000 or $2000 to spend on this? And those that do are already successful and have no need for this crap.
It is nice your offering a sounding board. Your articles should be made required reading for those graduate students wishing to enter the competitive world of the artist.
It is true that there are a lot of unscrupulous individuals out there soliciting money from artists, these operations are generally seen by those within the business as the lower level of the art world. On the other hand, there are also a lot of artists out there with the attitude that everything should be handed to them on a platter. After all, no one forces artists to spend their life sitting around making art, its their choice, and society (at least in America) does not feel it owes them anything for it. America is the land where all levels of business rule, from the legitimate, to the borderline criminal. While you may find this deal to be a rip off, to a doctor or lawyer who paints and wants to buy some space to hang artwork and sell it to friends under the guise of a gallery show, it may be a great deal.
I am in my early forties. Since my teenage years I have been working as a serious sculptor, creating mostly political works out of varied materials. Ive been in many exhibitions, but sold only one piece at a show in a Manhattan 57th Street gallery a few years ago.
I never imagined that I would ever do anything else with my life, but a couple of years ago I got despondent and quit making art altogether. Later I got a full time job doing computer work at a publishing house. I have no urge to make art anymore, sometimes I get ideas but never carry them out.
I am not sure why this happened, I do not think that it was the money. Maybe it was all the rejections. My work was good enough to show in a top NY gallery and be sold, but in the end the gallery would not show anything else and no other serious galleries would show it, too political. I just couldnt see dedicating my life to an activity that in the end would bring me nothing. Even if I was to be appreciated after I am dead, to me this is a worse fate. Why suffer throughout my one and only existence so some future art dealer can profit off my agony.
In spite of this I still have an interest in the art world. I go to openings and gallery shows all the time. This bothers me, I have rejected art, yet somehow can not fully release myself from it.
I do not envy you. To dedicate your life to an activity like sculpture and then drop it after over twenty years must be an agonizing and difficult choice to make. The age you are now at, around forty, is a difficult time for many artists. It is the age at which the romanticism of youth wears thin and the suffering engendered by a failure to attain recognition ceases to be romantic and merely becomes painful. I think the artists working beyond this point continue out of the satisfaction obtained from the act of creating itself. This in the end seems to be the only real justification to continue.
As far as your attraction to art goes, lots of people who are not artists have an interest in art and go to openings. Is it the same thing in your case, perhaps not. Art is like a drug for many artists. Can a junkie who has kicked heroin hang out old friends, watching them shoot up? Are you addicted to art? This is something to consider. In the end your personal salvation may not be in art, if so you should not feel guilty about giving it up altogether.
Last year I had a solo exhibit in a gallery that ran for 9 weeks. The gallery was large, well lit, well situated and run by liars and charlatans. Of course the latter was not immediately apparent.
As it became obvious that these guys were not going to sell any of my work even if someone had begged for it on their hands and knees, I took the situation in hand. I started doing weekly performance art shows on Saturday nights to increase traffic. As the end of the exhibit neared, I instituted the "game" show Art For A Buck. A friend dressed as a cheesy game show host came out with two Vanna Whiteesque type models who showed off the art while he sold raffle tickets, then I would come out and draw the lucky winner. Local musicians volunteered to play back up to the show and I wound up selling 27 pieces of my work. Though the money did not come from a single person, it did come and in some cases was more than I had originally asked for the piece.
While some artists might find this demeaning, I just considered the performance part of the art and laughed at the "system" all the way to the bank. I know this approach is not for everyone certainly, but it is a way of getting ones work out there.
It sounds like you had a lot of fun with this idea, it reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago for a group show, I called it: Artto. The show was to be a parody of both a juried show and the New York Lottery, which is called Lotto. This idea was to print up a whole mess of Artto tickets and sell them to artists for a dollar. After all the tickets are sold, the stubs go in a barrel and are spun around. A number of tickets are pulled out, these are the Artto winners and they get to be in a group show. At the opening, the tickets of the show winners are placed in a hat, one is picked out and this artist is the Artto winner and gets all the money from the tickets as a prize.
This show, like yours, was poking fun at the system and was to point out that a show selected purely by chance would look just as good hung in a gallery than one selected by some clown juror who works at the Whitney or Guggenheim Museum. In the end the Artto show never happened. Here in New York, the art world has lost all sense of humor, everyone is too pretentious or just plain burned out to get jokes like this. Its good to hear how your energy and good humor to pulled it off.
I have been living with an artist for the past five years. When we met and first became lovers, he was painting and I was pursuing a career as a writer. He always used to say how good it was to be with someone who was engaged in a different art form, because his past lovers had all been visual artists and the relationships had all ended up disasters. There was a lot of bad energy resulting from jealously and competitiveness that in the end destroyed the relationship.
My problem is this, in the past two years, I have lost the desire to write and have become inspired to take up painting. I have become intensely drawn by the process of painting and have been inspired by my lover, who is a veteran compared to me, hes been a painter for over twenty years. Lately, it seems that our relationship has become strained and I cant help but wonder if my painting has something to do with it. Is there some kind of pattern here? Could my knowledge of my lovers past bad experiences have influenced my desire to take up the craft? Is it possible for two painters to live together and have a healthy relationship?
You have some serious issues to work on here and I am no psychologist, so whether your inspiration to paint is related to your lovers past I can not say, only you know the source of your motivation. That aside I can say that I know many artist couples who do get along and manage to survive, some better than others. There are a lot of problems related to being an artist. In addition to the petty jealousies you have already mentioned, there are the physical problems of storage and work space, living expenses and the costs of materials and marketing. All these difficulties, hard enough with one artist, are doubled when there are two artists involved.
Based on other artists I have known, my advise is to keep your workspaces and related expenses as independent from each other as you are able. When you are together, keep you discussions of your art on the individual aesthetics, merits and progress of the individuals work. Avoid competitive comparisons, and avoid drawing your lover into supporting your efforts in an economic or psychological manner that makes it a drain on his own creative process.
Ive been a struggling artist for my whole life. I have tried all sorts of painting styles and subjects, from urban genre to Nantucket boat paintings. Although I am a good painter, I have never been able to connect with a market for my work.
Lately, I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps. I am over fifty years old and my only possessions, aside from my paintings and supplies, are a 1986 Chrysler mini van, some books, old clothes and a beat up surfboard. For the past two years I have been living in a shed without heat or running water on an abandoned Catskill nudist colony.
I thought I could put my savings on rent and related work into one last shot at rejuvenating my painting career. I made a lot of paintings and distributed them to several small galleries in Florida, Nantucket, Maine and Long Island. A lot were sold, but now I cant collect the money. I feel burnt out, like I should give up and learn computers and get a job at a publishing house. I dont know what to do anymore.
Forget about getting a computer job, anyone who is over fifty and would live in a heatless shed without plumbing is too far gone to enter the world of nine to five employment. Just stick with painting, it is your only hope. You will have to paint your way out of this predicament, so dont spread yourself too thin. Consider selecting one particular subject that you know would sell and stick with it. Time is short, you are not twenty anymore, its do or die. Narrow the focus of your mind, bear down hard - get down to business!
several pieces of artwork; a few drawings and two paintings. I took the work home and hung it in my apartment. The work was intense and exciting and I liked it a lot. Then I found that several of my friends were very disturbed by the paintings. Although I liked the work, I felt that this disturbing quality was a serious problem, because I do a lot of socializing with very important people in my space, which overlooks Central Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I went back to the gallery and asked the owner if he would take back the paintings. I was shocked to find out that the owner of the gallery was also the artist, who informed me that the money I paid had already been spent on the rent for the store. He said that he could not take the paintings back even if he wanted to. He suggested that I exchange the paintings for different ones that would be less problematic.
At first I agreed and looked at the other work, but I found that it all had this same disturbing quality. I left the store angry. I had purchase the work a week prior to going back to return it, yet the artist would not give me my money back. Isnt this unethical? Shouldnt the artist return my money? I was so annoyed that when I got home I gave all the artwork away. Thousands of dollars just went down the drain. What a waste. This left a sour taste in my mouth for art collecting, Ill never go back to see this artists work again.
It is too bad that you did not have the courage to stand behind the work you purchased and are so easily swayed by the opinions of a few uptight friends. You felt cheated and gave away the artwork, but I do not feel sorry for you. While most artists are happy to take work back, this artist was obviously struggling and from your description, it sounds like you are living pretty high on the hog. Im sure the artist felt very guilty and trapped in this situation.
Havent you been to many upscale boutiques that as a rule will give you credit but not return cash paid for merchandise? This would be accepted as a normal business practice in this establishment, so why not give this artist the same respect? If you think about it an artist should be given more respect that an ordinary retailer. Artists put their entire personality and soul into their work and can feel personally insulted and damaged by a return. If you are so unsure of your own taste and convictions, in the future be sure to negotiate terms for possible return of artwork before buying it.
I am a New York City artist in my late forties. To supplement my income I drive a cab. In order to have time to continue painting, I drive three shifts back to back, from 5am Saturday to 5pm Sunday, stopping only for a couple of hours around 3am to catch some sleep. It is a grueling lifestyle.
I generally accept my fate without complaint but something happened not too long ago that really burned me up. Now that Leo Castelli is dead and everyone is talking about how great he was I just have to say it. Not long ago I picked up Leo Castelli in my cab. We were on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and he was taking a short trip from one meeting to another. At the end of the trip the fare came to $3.75 and old Leo gave me $4.00. I thanked him and then - he asked me for 25 cents change!
Here I am, an artist struggling to survive, driving a cab, and there he is, a millionaire who made his fortune off the backs of artists, and hes asking me for a quarter. Do you believe it! Everyone else can sing the praises of old Leo Castelli, but Im putting in my 25 cents right now, and I say he was a selfish, stingy old bastard. And for all those shocked old farts in the art world I say - the art world be damned. I may drive a cab, but Ill be driving the streets eating falafels while the worms are eating their way into the corners of their pompous, nepotistic brains.
It sounds like you have a bit of anger to work out relating to the high rollers of the art world. I would suggest therapy, but on the money you make driving a cab I doubt you could afford it. Perhaps if you lived in a civil society where health care was seen as a human right and not as a federally protected bankroll for doctors, insurance companies and HMOs, you would be able to get the help that you need. Since you can not afford therapy, I suggest you expand the scope of your anger. After all, if Leo was as cheap as you say, and if the other movers of the art world are equally corrupt, is it really their fault? Are they, like yourself, not victims of a flawed social structure? Let go of your anger towards Mr. Castelli. After all, it was only a quarter. Be content with your falafel, and the thought of the worms burrowing into his brains.
About ten years ago I purchased a lot of paintings by unknown artists. My planwas to pick out good work and stash it, waiting for one of the artists to become famous. I figured the work was cheap enough and even if one artist out of fifty hit the big time, the value of the one painting would offset the whole collection. Now here I am ten years later with a whole load of worthless art and no fame. I have been trying to get rid of paintings and recoup my investment, but unknown art is a hard sell. One artist took a painting back and resold it for more than I paid, but most of the stuff I am stuck with. I dont buy art anymore. I put my money into tangible things like vehicles or furniture. To tell you the truth, Id drop two hundred bucks at a restaurant for a good meal before buying a painting for the same price. I like your magazine, but on me you are probably wasting postage.
You are a perfect example of what is wrong with America. You turn on the TV and watch reports on the Dow Jones. Everywhere you turn, every newspaper, magazine or radio show, there is talk about money, stocks and investment. You are confused, you see art as just another commodity, another consumer good.
The fact is Ron, art is not about money, it is a deep and profound expression of our humanity. Without art in all its forms humanity would be nothing more than a collection of mindless drones, wandering the globe in search of individual pleasure and profit. Sounds familiar, huh? Put your art back up on the wall Ron, take a long hard look at it and forget about money.
I have been showing with a New York City gallery for eleven years. I have been doing fairly well off and on.. My only complaint is the fact that the owner of the gallery requires me to maintain a studio in Manhattan. In the past few years the traffic has become unbearable. The rents have gotten so high that the only affordable studios are in very congested and polluted areas. I feel like I am in prison here, like I am not really alive. I want to keep my gallery, but can no longer tolerate the existence here.
What should I do?
I have heard this lifestyle complaint from a lot of New York artists.Its funny how the mayor promotes himself as the enforcer of "quality of life" in NYC, yet with congestion at an all time high, and with no pollution controls on any trucks and most busses, the air on an average day is intolerable. The mayor thinks that if business is booming everyone is better off, but if your bank account is bulging it wont improve the quality of your life much if youre in the hospital dying from emphysema or clusters of tumors in your lungs and brain.
While many suffocate on death beds in the back wards of roach infested city hospitals reserved for the uninsured, the mayor and his cronies live in luxury, high rise condominiums with filtered air and chilled spring water. They dream of a future where this warped quality of life will be a reality for all Americans, not just the suckers in New York. So my advice to you is get the hell out of this town while you have your health intact. If the dealer dumps you for it, find another that has a little more going on upstairs. If you cant -well- you can always grow ginseng for a living.
I am an artist who runs a modest gallery space in Manhattan. This past Fall I was showing some paintings and sent out a standard press release via e-mail to critics, magazines and galleries. One of the recipients of the e-mail, Douglas Kelley, operates a fine arts cable TV show called the Douglas Kelley Show. He also sends out e-mailings announcing gallery openings. My gallery does not have a multimillion dollar advertising budget, so I rely on local listings to get the word out. Ten years ago placing listings was easy, now it seems even the small papers have a pompous, exclusive attitudes when it comes to listing shows. Needless to say, my opening was not included on Douglas Kelleys list.
I returned an e-mail questioning his standards. Why are only wealthy, established and trendy galleries included on his list? Why exclude less established galleries? If small, unheard of listings will not consider alternative gallery spaces, what hope is there left for art in New York? After receiving my note, Mr. Kelly sent this return e-mail to my gallery:
"You retarded asshole. This list is not an open posting for self promoting apartments - It is stuff people actually want
to see. I dont think you are on the DKS list, but if you are let me dump you off. Am I supposed to recommend every $#@! one should ever see? Give up, move home to a trailer with your folks and never soil my email address again."
This reply really shocked me! It is bad enough to be excluded from this dumb listing, but to be insulted on top of it! Can you believe this? What kind of person would send a letter like this to an artist?
Sadly, the type of person who would send this is rude, antagonistic and typical of people from the mainstream art media. Unfortunately, the critics, pundits and editors in the mainstream art media have been effectively brainwashed by the contemporary cult of commercial consumerism. They believe that only art backed by a mainstream gallery with a multimillion dollar advertising budget is real art. All other art, but especially art displayed in galleries owned and operated by artists, is not real art to them. It is vanity art, inadequate art and in general contemptible art, worthy only of scorn and avoidance.
To confirm this just open a few copies of the Sunday NY Times, or a few issues of Art in America or Art Forum magazine. One will notice a strange consistency to all these publications, the same galleries being reviewed again and again. It is no coincidence that the galleries reviewed are the very same ones that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars enriching the owners of these publications with their advertising. Under the guise of art criticism these publications maintain an unspoken policy - "the more you pay, the more we say".
Try not to let the screwed up mentality of art world misfits and ass kissers like Douglas Kelley get you down. Just keep making and showing your art. Be content in the knowledge that in a hundred years, these opportunistic charlatans will be remembered for what they were, and that the lousy stuff they wheedled into the Museums will be quietly placed into permanent storage and forgotten.
I had the good fortune to exhibit a Blessed Virgin painting at The University of Florida art galleries in Gainesville, August to October of 1999. Not a peep of protest was heard for the "Secular/Spiritual Identities in the Blues" exhibition.
Personal art evolves, as we the artists struggle with the numbers and concrete of todays market. Our spiritual and secular identities are imbedded in our malnourished obese culture. Elemental images, such as the virgin, bare witness to the present and future. In the Florida exhibition I was fortunate to connect to curators who were also competent practicing artists. Their confidence and respect for their roots in "the blues" allowed them to stay focused on a dignified goal while taking risks.
The Statue of Liberty is caught in the swirls and gusts of a hurricane. Is this storm real or is it posturing for camera angles? To help us decide we can recall the wisdom of this Seneca teaching: "when you point a finger, three fingers point back at yourself."
As you already noticed the storm is posturing not just for the camera, but for the bank. The University of Florida obviously is not able to manipulate the media like the Brooklyn Museum and Charles Saatchi.
Had Saatchi or some other millionaire collector owned your painting, it would have been exhibited in the Brooklyn Museum or some other well-connected New York Gallery. Your name and painting would have been plastered all over every Newspaper and magazine and your painting would increase ten fold in value. The Seneca saying needs to be updated to fit the world in which we live. Perhaps it would be better rephrased like this: "when he waves a million, three million come back to himself."
Im a 32 year old artist trying to make it in New York and it is rough. Ive always worked part time so I could paint, but the job situation in the city has become so difficult. All the businesses have become so intent on squeezing out profits that they dont care about the workers. Ive quit four jobs in the past six months due to intolerable conditions.
One clothing store I worked in, Betsy Johnson, only paid $7 per hour, but as part of the job the owners demanded that I buy their clothes to wear in the store, and one outfit in that store costs $200! Plus they want you to have different outfits all the time. I also worked in an office where the boss yelled at me all day and called me stupid and an idiot. Desperate, I got a job now in Starbucks. Starbucks is so cheap they videotape every coffee sale and have their own police force. If you make a mistake on the register, they threaten to arrest you. I was hired to work 4 days per week, but if coffee sales slow down they just send me home in the middle of the day. I live in a slum apartment in Harlem, but still can not pay my bills. I cant take it anymore, I feel like killing myself.
Janet M. (from Vol. 3)
Since I last wrote to you things have taken a turn for the better. I had a show at a gallery and sold two paintings for decent prices. I quit my job at Starbucks (thank God) and now have some steady part time work to cover my bills. I paint every day and my work is improving, so I feel pretty good.
I must thank you and your company for the assistance you gave when I was so down and out. I dont know what I would have done without it. Perhaps I would not be here to write this. Thanks again.
Janet M. (from Vol. 4)
Im glad to hear that you are feeling better and your situation is improving. Just keep painting Janet!
Im a 50 year old woman artist, who began painting seriously at the age of 36. I had been indoctrinated all my life that painting is far too selfish, that I had to forfeit my life to a relationship, to the service of others. I wrecked my 10 year marriage when I made the decision to paint. Since then Ive shunned the idea of serious relationships, because my autonomy was most important. A year and a half ago, I began taking seriously a male artist about my age, and found myself playing every sort of self deception in order to appease him. I saw my strength go flying out the window, as I smiled sympathetically while this arrogant adolescent ranted on about his previous marriage to a 20 year old, and about how he was a really great artist because in the past he had sold his paintings for high prices. The implication was that I was no good, because I never made more than $5000 on a sale.
When he broke up with me and all his love and admiration turned to hate and disgust, the one redeeming thing he said about me was that my art might even be better than his! Im amazed now at my foolishness to waste so much time with this person, but mostly Im amazed that male artists can do well in the world never having struggled in any way, never growing up, while women must carry all the courage on their backs. Now he has stopped painting seriously in favor of re-populating the Aryan race, while I cannot stop painting frantically. Do you think theres something intrinsically wrong with me? That is guy was right after all?
While your dedication to your art is admirable, it seems to me that you may be giving it too much importance in these failed relationships. In particular, your recent experience may have less to do with your art, than with your ex-friends fetish for little girls. There is a lot of this going around today. A summer movie even presented Richard Gere in a glorious, tragic romance with Winona Ryder, a woman less than half his age. I failed to see what was romantic in this film about a sleazy, sexist old guy who never advanced mentally past high school, drooling over some young girl who was in diapers when his hair started turning gray.
This disorder stems from our materialist, money obsessed culture. Women in this scenario are just another acquisition to the portfolio, and like a heifer or sow, the younger they are the more valuable. At this point Lilly, Id say stick to painting and forget about men. In this society, you need a man like you need lead weight roped around your neck.
I had the good fortune of picking up a copy of Direct Art this week. I must say that the editorial thrust is indeed refreshing. Last week I took the gallery tour of Chelsea and was similarly generally appalled by the spaces (particularly 526 W 26th) and the works on view. Unfortunately, your writer turns an important article with a VERY important thesis into a rant. There is some very good art on display in this huge geographical area; even if there werent, something good needed to be said to avoid the appearance of an agenda. The way the establishment art press can find nothing bad to say about any of their reviewed artists (after all, the galleries pay for the ads), Ms. Smythe had nothing good to say; two impossible scenarios.
You seemed to miss the point of the article, which was intended to be both a rant and a parody of the establishment art press. Also, your suggestion that "something good needed to be said to avoid the appearance of an agenda" (even if there was nothing good there) is absurdly typical of establishment thinking. It all goes back to primate, savanna politics. The big establishment baboon in charge can hoard all the food, control the whole tribe, rant and rave and everyone is supposed to sit back, smile and applaud. But if one of the little guys off to the side starts to jump up and down and make a little noise, then there are problems. Usually the little baboon gets the crap beat out of him and is silenced.
Your strategy is obvious, jump up and down a little, then smile at the big guy and kiss his butt so you dont get smashed, then jump a little more. Your pesky, but good little baboon follows a strategy of advancement within the tribe through co-operative opposition, standing out while maintaining the status quo. It is the reckless baboon that does not smile or applaud, who has no sense of self-preservation, who is a danger to the tribe.
You - youre a sick son of a bitch painting, and making fun of people who are fat. You are far worse than any fat person. Why the hell should it bother you that some people are fat???????? Get a fuckin life, and look in the bludy mirror, and no I am not FAT!!! Your paintings are garbage, put your time to a better use my sick friend.
Im glad youre not fat Joe, but you should care about obesity, just like you should care about people starving to death. Get a heart Joe, and lay off the pork. Also, you missed the whole point of the article which was not making fun of overweight people at all. The focus of the article and the artwork illustrating it was to point out the obesity and wastefulness of the culture, not individuals. However, like most superficial, self absorbed and xenophobic Americans, you just dont get it.
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