Monday, January 26, 2015

'Art School Mentality-The Indentured Culture'

I was a discussion a few days ago with an artist friend. We were talking about the business of art, and how difficult it is for artists to make an working wage, and about the lack of support given to artists in society, which plays out in terms of not considering the artist to be the essential if not the sole contributor to the cultural economy. There are certainly those who are making money, but unfortunately it is not the artist.

Today I read a great article that really sparked my interest, on this very topic, by Hrag Vartanian on the Hyperallergic site concerning The Artist As Debtor Conference held recently in New York City, at Cooper Union. 

Hrag's article describes an overview of the purpose, objectives and goals for this Conference that took place on January 23 2015. Unfortunately the recording of the conference, by LiveStreaming, that was provided, was very poor sound quality of the video presentations, which made it next to impossible to make out what was being said.

Hrag Varanian's article is excellent, and relays some very pertinent, and insightful information from artists Coco Fusco, and Noah Fisher who organized and presented The Artist As Debtor Conference with the featured speakers, Julieta Aranda, William Powhida, Martha Rosler, Gregory Sholette; writer Brian Kuan Wood; W.A.G. E. and BFAMFAPHD, and cultural theorist Andrew Ross.

There are some interesting links in Hrag Vartanian's article such as W.A.G.E. a similar non-profit artist organization much like CARFAC.
 I am a proud Canadian artist who is very grateful and happy to know Canadian artists do have some significant representation through Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC). 
However the fact is, we still have much work ahead to make the life of the working artist comparable, and on par with other professionals.
Art while it is pleasurable, it is work. Artists should be recognized and remunerated appropriately, for the work that they do, and work hard at creating.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are You A Neutrino?

Poppa Neutrino

I have a life long friend Rodger, with whom I grew up with in Amherst, Nova Scotia. I've known him since I was a teenager. We were actually both born the same year, 1953.

There was a gaggle of us kids who hung out together at the local hole in the wall, the very funky Y.M.C.A., where we had those big spools for tables you could get from the Power company, and they were covered in carpet. We had old couches and chairs, a pool table, and a ping pong table and even a "Blue Room" for those gals and guys who wanted to catch a few snogs in the corner. Most importantly it was were we learned about ourselves, the real meaning of leadership and we developed our values.

Safe to say we are all pretty grateful for having such a great example that was set for us, by Arden, a compassionate and very intelligent man, a young 27 year old director, then about ten years older than most of us. He was truly a great example and mentor, who went on to bigger and better things, making the world a better place. The Amherst 'Y' would never be the same without him. Arden greatly cared about a bunch of wild and crazy teenagers, got us off the streets, kept us safe and happy as possible, and gave us all a lot of special memories. He made all the difference in all of our lives, in one way or another, and we are all grateful to him. I know we didn't realize then, how very fortunate we were to have him in our lives.

Once our group of friends left the Y.M.C.A. for the day, or on other occasions, my friend Rodger would often invite all of us down to his house, where we would play pool, board games, and eat copious amounts of junk food and just have a lot of clean wholesome fun. His parents always welcomed us, and there was never any illicit substances involved, at least not at Rodger's house.

Of course we all thought we were pretty cool, but weren't, but little did all of us know just how cool Rodger was, and what he was going to do in the future. This blog post is just about that, what my friend Rodger did in 1998. We all need to take risks, face our fears, follow our desires, be ourselves and walk our own path. That takes real guts, and makes us feel fully alive with conviction.

 I'm so proud and happy for my friend Rodger that he faced his fears, took a risk, and how it changed his life forever. He's another example for those of us living on the side lines of life as bystanders, as opposed to participators.
 Here's the link to the preview of what Rodger and the Neutrinos did.

I found a really compelling blog post about the Neutrinos that gives a great overview.

As the Neutrino website says 'anyone who stays true to their deepest desires and who lives by their own script is indeed a Neutrino.' Rodger certainly has done this, and I hope we all are or will be some time, some where along the way become Neutrinos.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Who What Where When Why How

My smart, creative artist friend posted some good practical information today, all about the business of how to sell your art work. I have blogged about this topic a number of times because it is a pressing ongoing concern of the working artist, because usually, most of us never make enough to support ourselves through our art, and end up having to get the proverbial 'real job'. Not that there is anything wrong with this, certainly not. Artists need to be resourceful, flexible, and adaptable, otherwise you're dead in the water. But this is not the point.

I said to my artist friend, many business types don't understand art or artists, in that they may very well think you are really on a dead end road financially, and why would you do that. I'd say a good majority, right out of the gate artists, like those coming out of art school, don't understand the business of art, in terms of marketing,  promoting themselves and all that the business of art entails.

 Many of us are almost apologetic for thinking we should get a decent wage for our artistic effort. The all to often reality is, many artists do live well below the poverty line, myself included. Oh I do get a some timely and much needed caches that are greatly appreciated, but this is not the norm regularly, but it has improved for me over the years.

What baffles me, is why this issue is not addressed in University Fine Art Degree programs. There is very little offered in the way of art students learning how to run your own 'art business'. If it is, it is very limited and I don't really understand why. I suspect it has to do with the historical development of the artist within culture and society, and how it has changed sociology, economically and politically.

There is a fair amount online about this matter of artists and business, but there is a desperate need to have this information accessible in University Fine Art Degree programs. For that matter, schools need to have this topic included in the school curriculum.There are so many things that no one tells you about being an artist and this needs to change, and it is why a fair amount of my blog posts are on this topic, which I have linked to in this post.

It is my experience you have to work consistently hard at promoting your own work, being your very own best advocate, manager, agent, accountant, and friend. Sure, if you can afford a hire a good agent, well that's great, make sure it is a good one, and good luck with that exceptional opportunity.

I've heard it said, the art world is no longer, now it is the art business. This leaves a bad taste for many people, and they are just not going to op in, because you can make a deal with the devil, end up losing your integrity in one way or another, and kissing a lot of bad butt.

In North America art and creativity are not seen as an essential service, like a doctor, mechanic, plumber and the like. It is not a priority, considered as one of the basics to education, like English and Math. As Sir Ken Robinson talks about, we need a paradigm shift, and it needs to happen now.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Snoppen and Snippan!

After a busy morning and later on a stressful afternoon, I needed a laugh. I found it when I heard about this Swedish animation Snoppen and Snippan, that has gone viral and is meant to be a kind of sex ed video to teach kids about genitials. I had a good giggle when I heard this tonight. It actually is quite cute, and a pretty catchy tune too. But I'm certain there are people who may not think so and think a video like this is problematic. I'm glad I am not one of them.
Here's to Snippity Snop!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just A Brooklyn Boy - Henry Miller

Portrait of Henry Miller In Big Sur by Henri Cartier-Bresson
I've never read The Tropic of Cancer. Truth is, I'm a embarrassed to say I've never read a single solitary book by Henry Miller. What I did know about him wasn't much, until now. A person might get the impression he was rather chauvinistic, philandering man.  But I see him rather as a hopeless romantic, perhaps chasing after the illusive ideal love.

I believe he possessed a deeply creative soul. A philosopher of sorts, and definitely had 'street cred', and in his own words "I'm just a Brooklyn boy."  "I lived in the street and acquired the typical American gangster spirit."

His love affair with Anaïs Nin, gained a lot of notoriety, mostly because of her dairies I think. He was married five times. I get the impression both men and women found him charismatic.
Oh to have a time machine as I envy his life and time in Paris, being surrounded by artists, and writers.

I admire Henry Miller because he had the courage and the audacity to be himself. He had the fortitude to follow his passions and convictions regardless of what others thought. Money and fame were never his priority. 

The fact that he was a painter before he was a writer, I find really compelling, and what he had to say about painting even more so.

I found a great site, which is a tribute to him, by Dr. Hugo Heyrman. It's full of photos and facts with loads of information.

I intend to try and track down Henry Miller's book, To Paint Is To Love Again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martha Graham

Martha Graham

When I was a little girl I absolutely loved dancing, and dreamed of being a ballerina, before I understood what a difficult life it was being a ballet dancer.
When growing up in the East End of Toronto I had a older friend Sandra, who was about 16 years old when I was six or seven. Sandra studied ballet and I was absolutely in complete admiration, and adoration of her. I wanted to be her. She was my protector and like the big sister I never had. I loved her.

My mother would play the piano and I would dance around pretending I was a great ballerina. I would get all ethereal, and dramatic, twirling and swirling around in the living room.
I followed the careers of all the dancers, and later I especially love Martha Graham, when I learned about Modern Dance.

Years later my mother would take me to ballet performances and I would watch every show about ballet whenever they aired on television. As an adult I was able fulfill my dream to study dance at school in Nova Scotia, when I went off to study art in the 70s, and managed to get my point shoes, which I still have. At fifty years of age I took up Middle Eastern Dance ( Belly Dance ).

My mother always allowed me to live my life creatively. She never laughed, criticized or discouraged me. She only encouraged me to keep myself open to my creative energy, possibility, and the expression of myself in whatever form or medium.

Today I found this online, a deep, thoughtful and insight-fully wise quote by Martha Graham.

" There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. "

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dionysos-lacchos Twice-Born - The Fool

The Fool- Egg Tempera on Porcelain Tile, 6"x6" - Catherine Meyers, 2015

I painted for three hours and finally finished my painting around five o'clock. I took a picture after the natural light disappeared, so it isn't the best picture in term of exposure. I'll replace it tomorrow when I can take a photo during the day.

 I added a lot more marks, and some goat horns. Yup goat horns, that indicates The Fool is like an animal. He is the child of Zeus, and reborn of the underworld twice-born.

Having completed my first painting, and getting my car back from the garage after being without a vehicle for over a month, it's been a real good day and like The Fool I've come out of my cave!

Note: This photo was updated January 20th 2015.