Thursday, January 10, 2008

Art & Money

Happy New Year to your and yours! It's been a tough holiday season with company coming into town, hosting Xmas eve and Xmas day dinners and trying to finish work for my solo art show - "Power: Grids and Shapes" at Asylum Gallery which opens with a 2nd Saturday artist's reception at 6 pm at the Gallery this Saturday, Jan 12th. here's a little preview of one piece. I hope to make a little video of the work and post it to You-Tube with a link here maybe sometime next week. Ironically this is the biggest piece in the show measuring 48" x 62". And a big round of applause to Asylum Gallery directer Cherie Hacker for hanging the show as I played her assistant. One of my dear friends, Riki Matthews in Denver, has written the following about art and capitalism in which I think she makes some very good points. What do you think?
  • "Once upon a time", not so long ago, I met a man-child, fresh on the national art scene for having been in the right place at the right time. OH, don’t get me wrong, his photos were quite beautiful, with an eerie lighting that made people exclaim that he had captured the scenes’ atmospheres successfully. But, alas, this was not what catapulted him into the limelight.

But within a year, with much assessment of our culture, the art scene, money, and with an even younger, eager girlfriend in tow, his attitude—and prices—had changed. Now, the very same photos that only 12 months earlier sold for $35 now could only be had for $450 (or more) as part of a limited edition. Voluble and enthusiastic this time around at the art festival, he talked to those that looked—until he found you did not have the money to buy. He spoke most seriously of ethics, of not being able to reduce his prices else he be cheating those that have spent these high prices to be assured of owning only one of a limited number. And yet………. Had they seen him the year before as I had? Or were they merely buying because he had received the stamp of acceptance from some imaginary artistic organization stating, "You are buying, approved, VALUABLE art"?

  • Originally, art was either totally ephemeral--drama, oral recitation, or dance--or public, with statues and frescos. With the invention of oils, art became portable, and, unintentionally, private. Then, with reproductive techniques (type-set, printmaking, photos, video, computers, and so on, the intention was to make art accessible once again to the masses in the form of copies as opposed to the "original." Ironically, what it did was to drive up the price of the original and devalue any reproduction as capitalism had to protect the owner's investment, for one thing, and leach any value from the copy--and anyone who could only afford that level of art.
  • The worship of money, in the outrageous prices being paid for "originals," it is not the art that is being honored, for if that were true, the brilliant forgeries, indistinguishable from the original, would be worth owning as well and would make money in their own right as known copies with royalties to the original if the artist is still alive (which gets into copyright laws, another can of worms in the art world for another essay). But they don't. (For further background on the history of art and the influence of capitalism, I recommend Terry Eagleton, An Introduction to Literary Theory).
As she was writing this, I was in the process of out-sourcing the printing of my artwork to four different sources so I could make bigger work than what comes off my ink jet printer in the studio and so I wouldn't have to deal with frames and mats, etc. I've been thinking for some time now that I don't want to present my digital art like other traditional media. Outside of putting up a bunch of monitors, I decided to have the work mounted on various substrates and then varnished so a frame isn't needed.
  • I also realized that would drive the prices way up, so I decided that I would also make some smaller prints of the work for less money. That way money would not be the only issue in buying some of the work.
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