Tuesday, August 14, 2012
When one of the “artists” in the piece “Paint By Numbers, August issue 9-15 volume 43 number 32” made the comment “Art is and always has been a business,” and followed with “ Any Artist or community member who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves,” really struck a chord.
As an artist who educates, writes, creates and exhibits work, something about reducing something so critical to defining our culture as just another “business” misses just what makes art special.
Naturally, every artist wants to sell work, if for no other reason to develop without being distracted by the fiscal concerns that come with taking on work outside the studio. No one disputes this. But when art becomes just a commodity and it is created for strictly “commercial” concerns, then it becomes something very different. It is fine art no longer.
A persistent argument in art is that commissioned work is always commercial work. The argument usually goes back to renaissance and artists who actively sought patronage from powerful patrons. What is usually missing is that those art supporters were often highly educated, erudite people who saw art not as something decorative but as something of significance. Even if the ideas that fuel the works were collaborative, at the very least artists and patrons were struggling to make epic statements, not floral effluvium to be discarded in dumpsters when styles change.
There are in the Valley artists as uncompromising as any Ayn Rand protagonist. The problem has been finding enlightened patronage, either small or large. Often, support of local talent goes out of State leaving local talent struggling for whatever crumbs can be found.
Either way, and it is not glamorous or particularly romantic, even with the struggles, sacrifice, loss and set backs, not going to the Phoenix Art Group remains one of my wisest choices. Even if offered payment and economic security, I would rather struggle and find another way that become an exploited artist making someone else wealthy at my expense. I am not saying this from an elevated cloud perspective. I had a chance to join up, but I could not let my art slide so low. I refused to go back for a second interview. I never regreted it and never looked back on the experience. Your article made me realize just what I was “not” missing.
Over all, you wrote a great piece.