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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Updated: I tell 'ya, *We just can't find Artists in Connecticut!*"

Update:

Since this essay was written, the Arts organization in question, is in fiscal difficulty. I take not an iota of Schadenfreude in their situation but if the organization has difficulty finding artists in CT, unsurprisingly the NEA had equal difficulty finding Art and return on art investment in the organization.  OBVIOUSLY, there's a bigger problem than funding at work here.

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This is a second in a series of blogs about why good and great art in Connecticut are ignored.

The conversation I had with the Arts organization Visual Arts co-ordinator a few weeks ago yielded a nugget worth  examining.  After a series of exchanges that all ended with co-ordinator asserting that "We [her organization]  just can't find artists [in Connecticut]" she mentioned that "maybe the people putting together a Connecticut Arts list will make it easier" [again I'm paraphrasing].

So I went home and looked them up - CT Art List.  They had a pretty decent Facebook page that essentially aggregated Connecticut Art shows - not the worst thing that could happen.  But what piqued my interest was their Artist Gallery page.  Here they display the names of Connecticut artists and a .jpg of their work.

This gallery gives the impression that they're aggregating a comprehensive list of Connecticut artists of the kind my delusional arts organization friend "just could not find".  So I submitted my name and a representative piece of work and waited.

About a week later I received a generic letter that stated, "We have received your application and we are carefully reviewing it. If you are chosen, you will have a page/section created on our Curated Image Bank. If you are not, we encourage you to keep on creating and continue to follow CT ArtList on Facebook, Twitter and on our website. Please submit any events you may have or you know of and we'll do our best to get them up on our site."

The minute I received this I was tempted to write, "Why call yourself Connecticut Art List if you have no interest in artists in Connecticut?"  But I didn't, thinking that I'd let this play out.

So days later, I start poking around their website.  What's this?

"The curated image bank currently features 28 artists from every corner of the state, and in all different stages of their careers. An overwhelming majority of the featured artists are graduates of Connecticut art schools- most with advanced degrees."

Soooo... "Curated" basically means academically credentialed artists [only].  Sweet.  Art history teaches us that that's where most great art comes from or, as the Borat character might say, - NOT!

Rather than rant and rave about this site, their pretentiousness, and the tone-deaf claim that it's some kind of art list representing state artists, let's chalk it up as yet-another-me and mine-first-self-serving art site looking to cash in on the suckers who get signed up.

This isn't new or news.  Brooklyn Art Project gave me the same rash.  There are others.  They advertise themselves as being a resource to you when in fact you are an unpaid, unrecognized asset [potential web consumer] to them.

The sad, pernicious fact is that CT Arts organizations that receive government funding are gamed to serve very specific, inside constituencies.  Their ties to academia and their closed-minded ideas about art and appetite for monopolizing art funding and venues exclude independent artists from the game.

As artists we are emotionally manipulated into feeling sorry for the poor self-serving bureaucrats who "just can't find..." us.  In business, these people would have to explain their conflicts of interest but in the art world we treat them like the victim.