Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ART Success vs. ART Respect Pt. 2

This entry is part 2 of an entry about art success. I spoke about the newsletter Artist’s At Work (via Gyst) in part 1. This entry is about my personal feelings about art fame, art success, and art respect.
I don’t think I ever wanted to be famous. Well, it would be nice, but I don’t think it would be possible. It doesn’t fit with my personality. I don’t want to do the things needed to create or maintain that status. I have never been willing to kowtow to anybody. I am not an ass kisser. I never developed the skill of obsequiousness. I see everyone on an equal plane. I can’t get into the celebrity thing. I just can’t. I always thought it is so weird to even get an autograph. Huh? Why would you want something like that? I have never cared or understood the motivation of these kinds of behaviors. Likewise, I don’t see “art stars” as being better than me or you or the homeless guy who is living under the overpass. We are all just human beings trying to live and survive. Period. I honestly believe this.
A number of things happened this week that brings this topic to a head for me. After speaking about “Otto” and his one man show, there is a moment in his final video he slowly looks around the gallery. His voice echoes in the empty room. There is nothing there except him and his work hanging on the walls. There is a tiny bit of sadness in his eyes. He was speaking about getting the work done and getting the show hung. As he pans the room, he tells of how the show opened early during spring break. The show is at a university gallery. He goes on to say not many people have been to the gallery to see the work yet. You can see a slight bit of let down in his eyes. Then, he says something like “I guess we have to wait for the opening.” I know that feeling. We do all this work and then we are disappointed when there are no trumpets or angels singing or big BANG! Every artist experiences this. There is this momentary let down. It is as if despite our exhaustion, we want to stand in the middle of the gallery and scream as loud as possible
Aren’t I????”

Well, I would say YES, you are. However, I see art stardom differently than most people. I think doing the work, having a clear vision, and creating concrete representations of that vision is a massive feat. It should be rewarded. However when you do accomplish this, it is rare a golden beam of light falls from the heavens and adorns you with a glittery halo. That is VERY RARE. So you have to see art stardom in a healthier more realistic way.
The topic here is fame vs. respect. Now I understand this comparison. It would be nice to be an art star, but what I really want is art RESPECT. I know a lot of art stars who are buffoons or publicity mongers or egomaniacs. Also, fame is most often fleeting. I don’t want my life to be wrapped around some shallow fantasy. I want to be respected as an artist. In the long run, I would like other artists to say, “She did a good job!”; “She hung in there!” “She made her mark.” “She was an artist’s artist!” I guess I just really want to be remembered as a valuable artist and human being.
Another thing that happened this week that ties into this topic is the whirlwind art fair circuit happening in New York. James Kalm of Half Ass Productions fame has been riding his bike to all the shows. As I watch video after video, I notice there is too much art(?) out there. I experience visual overload. As I scan the walls of each show video he presents, I think to myself “I bet every one of those artists wants to be an art star! WOW!” They all want that elusive brass ring of art success. I wish them all well. I might not be famous, but I am a successful artist. In fact,
I am an ART STAR in my own mind!!

Watch the latest James Kalm production
One of a zillion shows during this art fair season


joel ferraris said...

Hi Sheree,

I truly enjoyed reading this post. I myself always go back to the basics...thinking about my purpose as an artist and to what direction this kind of life will lead me.

To me, just continue doing art and living life by walking the right path. It saddens me to learn about artists rise high like stars only to drown in fame or fortune.

It also bothers me that this thing called fame is like cancer that victimizes artists who want to get the slice of the pie and forget the most important thing you mentioned - RESPECT.

I cannot agree when someone told me once that art is 10 percent substance and 90 percent packaging! With this mentality, does it mean that art collectors were duped?

To me artists are born to follow their calling but they must be sensitive enough to differentiate what is relevant to a clean kind of life from what is not.

And to me the blessings meant for a particular person cannot be grabbed by another.

Allow me to share this to you:




Sheree Rensel said...

I am totally freaking out right now. I LOVE your blog!! What??? Is everybody in your family an artist??? How cool is that!!! I have had relatives that have art abilities, but I am the only one who became an artist. You are a lucky guy!
Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I have yet to go read your blog. I will respond there. I LOVE your art too!! Holy Macaroni can you tell I am excited to meet you, your blog, and your art?? Tee HEE
Thanks again,

Savy said...

Hi Sheree! I'm SO GLAD you popped by my blog, so I could be introduced to yours.

For me, art is tricky when it comes to the public and the "sale". I got a lesser degree in fine art, almost went and got my BFA (I had 118 credits) and then realized as my professors droned on about futures and that most would teach... that all I wanted to do was create. I left, we moved, I never went and finished the BFA.

I never even intended to sell my art. It was a fluke that I ever started, pushed on by an in-law daring me to speak with a gallery owner. What followed totally disheartened me. I was told to paint other things that would "appeal and sell" to the average visitor to the gallery (tourists) - and I hated it. And, those didn't sell, only MY stuff did. And then there were shows, and shake this person's hand, and pose for the newspaper with that person, and make sure you compliment that person. It literally made my physically ill.

Worse, I have long fought being an artist. I don't know how I ever drummed up the gumption to go to school for art in the first place. Arts has swirled through the family tree here and there, but my immediate family are not. My marriage to a rocket scientist (yes, really) with his field biologist brother and architect sister and engineer father... and I was called the leach, because of art: a voice of my biggest fear and greatest wish to be drawn to do something "normal".

But I cannot. This is who I am. I am graduating with a BS in business to "cover" myself, but I'm turning it all to my art because I fracture who I am without it. I'm sort of hoping that the degree will help me be the business person an artist needs to be... but I rather think I'll still be the girl hiding in the broom closet with her paintbrush instead.

I don't want fame. I want respect... but most of all, I want it from myself.

Sheree Rensel said...

You wrote:
"I don't want fame. I want respect... but most of all, I want it from myself."

I too am glad I found your blog. Welcome to mine!! :-)
OH, I want fame. LOL Also, I DO RESPECT MYSELF ALREADY. I guess that is why I am so shocked I don't get it from everyone else!! LOL LOL LOL LOL
You mention being frightened and holding back from being an artist. I have never been that way. I was an artist even when I was a little girl. It seemed like I was born that way. I think being married to a scientist is totally compatible. Art and Science are close cousins! I do understand the art school thing. We were told about the FUTURE and I do teach (HMMMMMMMM, no further comment about that). I have sold a lot of art in my life, but not enough to cover my mortgage, food, clothes, etc. I think your business degree will come in handy! I wish I was more business savvy. Also, remember what I said about "ringing your own bell"! Shout from the rooftops every time you accomplish something. Honestly, that will help to galvanize your self respect. Also, it does wonders to keep you out of that closet!!!!

Eva said...

I am not sure that fame is the only issue here. So much depends on how artists are written up - not just now when they are "hot," but also in the history books, when finally dead and everyone can mine a career out it. I guess I am blaming art historians and current art press as much as any artist.

What I find is that Modern art history is often made of personalities, not just art. The sordid biography of the artist is dwelled upon as much as the work they produced.

And I see this more for women than men in general, even in my local paper... Women are especially "profiled," not always critiqued. They are the object and subject and the actual objects they make are almost secondary.

I'm not saying this is wrong, right, whatever - but I do think it all leads to this idea that it's about being an artstar as opposed to being an artist. You see the role models long before you even think about who/what you'll turn out to be. For better or worse, many people are more interested in the lives of Georgia or Frida than they are in the art they made.

Sheree Rensel said...

Oh gosh!! I totally agree with you! So much of everything today has less to do with the content or product at hand. It has more to do with the "celepersonality".
If you are all nicey, nicey, know the right people (POWER and CONNECTIONS), and if those people like you enough to take you under their wing, you are made in the shade. Well, at least for a while. Of course, you do have to have some kind of art. Also, you have to have some kind of drive to be a part of the ART upper crust. If all those ingredients are in place, the recipe for art stardom is born.
Also, I agree the media and art historical types play a huge role in determining who will get what in the art game. Oh yes!! The part of all this that bothers me is as artists we play such a small part in our destiny. At least, the art we make seems like a minor issue. For example, when I watch James Kalm’s video and see all the art he showcases, I always think “and this is worth noting because…….?” Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Kalm Reports. However, I see how the art portrayed is just more art. I don’t see anything special or earth shattering. It is art that happens to be in a NY or Williamsburg gallery. That’s it. Hmmmm…
I guess I have to jazz up my personality or get married to a famous "giant art frog" like Frida. LOL LOL