Post #625 • September 15, 2005, 10:31 AM • 32 Comments
Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs recently invited creators from many disciplines to come to a meeting on Monday and identify challenges facing individual artists. A dozen did so, including myself and two other visual artists whom I won't identify for the sake of their privacy.
When it came to my turn, I said:
The museums have shown interest in a miniscule selection of local artists. I pointed out that three visual artists were sitting at the table, with careers lasting ten years (mine), ten years (we'll call her Artist A), and five years (Artist B) respectively, and not one of them had ever had his work represented at either MoCA or MAM. In my case, I understand, since I have been cranking on the museums for a long time and maybe nobody in the system likes my work. Fine. But Artist A's omission? Artist A has won major grants, glowing reviews, and the unmixed respect of her peers. And I know what you're thinking: she's a photographer and videographer, so don't go there. Artist B has galleries across the US and in Europe, regular invitations to show and participate in special projects abroad, and coverage in national-level press. I don't know what rationale would exclude them, and can't explain their exclusion except that MAM and MoCA have a long-standing pattern of not playing ball with everyone, for reasons that no one can figure out.
The next challenge is the Miami Herald. I explained that despite my training in art, I found that the only hope to see more meaningful coverage of the local art world down here was to do it myself, and I became an art writer. I explained further that since no paper in town will even cover the calendar, I did that myself too, and became a database administrator. I told them how at one point, recently, it occurred to me that I was either doing a really smart thing, or I am the biggest fool walking the streets of Miami. How did it fall to one person to provide the public with the art calendar? I didn't share a more recent realization that my efforts towards providing these resources has compromised my ability to provide content, i.e., make art. I have since outsourced some of the heavier coding so I can do exactly that, but I remain simultaneously grateful for the business opportunity and miffed that the opportunity was created when the Herald decided to suck.
One participant, a musician, made a brilliant suggestion: instead of giving money to production entities to pay musicians to play, as it normally happens, give the money to musicians to pay production companies to present their work. Nice. But Artist A and I looked at each other and laughed. We explained how much we looked forward to going down to Bonnie Clearwater's office and saying, look, Bonnie, I have a new body of work, and I'm selecting the Museum of Contemporary Art to show it. Here's $30,000. Like I said, brilliant.
I've invited Cultural Affairs to send me minutes from the meeting for posting here, but I haven't heard back from them, and may not because it just wasn't that kind of meeting. [Update: I heard back from Rem Cabrera, who says that he will have a go at it. Thanks, Rem!] Nevertheless, Cultural Affairs is listening. What they can do about all this is another matter.