Saturday, September 14, 2013

Artists Worthy of Attention

I recently had two conversations about the state of art in Connecticut that I'm fairly certain are probably very much the same elsewhere.

In one conversation, someone intimated that they knew a docent who was familiar with the review and acceptance criteria to be considered for a one person show at a local museum.  According to this reliable source, applications would be dismissed unless an artist had been mentioned as an "Artist Under Forty" to watch or someone whose CV had already included a show of distinction at a museum or gallery of renown.

The second conversation was with a representative from a big city Arts Organization who was visiting one of the many open drawing sessions available to artists in the area.The meme had been floated that the individual might be instrumental in curating a show of drawings from such drawing sessions.

So the individual spent a few minutes speaking with this one and that and got to me.

My first question was, "why doesn't your organization promote more local artists?"  I will paraphrase what followed.

Leaning to me, the person confided, "We try, we really do but *we just can't find* artists in Connecticut [presumably worthy enough for consideration]. We have a yearly show that you can apply to have a show to that used to be called, Artists under 40 but we changed that.  This year we feature an artist who used to live in Connecticut."

I pointed out a handful of worthy artists in the room saying something to the effect, "Here they are!"

The person then said, as if the people in the room were invisible, "I hear there's another drawing session... [elsewhere]."

"Yes, and there are good artists there too."  And I mentioned this one and that.  "So why can't you promote local artists [and I wasn't speaking of hobbyists]?

Again.  "I told you we have *such a hard time* finding artists in Connecticut."

"But isn't that part of your job [given that the organization uses local contributions to run itself]?"

"We have so little money to work with..."

"Then why not hold pop-up shows in all the empty storefronts in Hartford [...Bridgeport, Willimantic, Norwich...]?"

Oh, I don't have time for that - I had to drive to New York to pick up work...[for the next show].

Shortly after going through this circular logic a little more, the art detective moved to the next person.

There is a special kind of insult that is experienced when someone "looking for artists" looks you eye-to-eye and confides that they "can't find them."

I've been making art since I was a young child and off and on for about fifty-five years.  I'm familiar with the games and fairly indifferent to them.  But every once in awhile... it stings.