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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.
September 15, 2005, 11:23 AM
We like Cultural Affairs. They give out money, often to the right people.
September 15, 2005, 11:44 AM
Cultural affairs rocks OP. Avail yourself of the cultural affairs!
September 15, 2005, 12:17 PM
Considering what you are doing, Franklin, why would you not be prime candidate for some kind of grant from them? I would think it would be obvious even to a municipal arts organization.
September 15, 2005, 12:19 PM
Really, Franklin, get a clue. I mean, you can't expect our highly esteemed (especially in their own minds) institutions to stoop to local talent, however respectable, when they can get the likes of an Othoniel and his giant glass doo-dads (he's French, you know) or a Leirner (from Brazil!)and those, uh, ineffable sticker thingies on glass windowpanes. How can you possibly object to such curatorial brilliance? You're obviously jealous, that's all.
September 15, 2005, 12:29 PM
Actually, Franklin, maybe your problem is just an image thing. Let your hair grow out, lose the pallor, and talk to Boprae. He can put you on the right track if anyone can. You'll have to invest in some expensive gel and assorted grooming products, of course, but it'll be worth it. Oh, and show some flesh why don't you; you're way too demure. Yeah, that should get their attention, especially if you make your art all about personal "issues" and stop worrying about damn formal values. Trust me; it's a cinch.
September 15, 2005, 12:33 PM
If I let my hair grow out and apply gel to it I'm going to look a lot more like Bozo the Clown than Boprae.
September 15, 2005, 12:38 PM
How did __ fall to one person to provide the public with the art calendar?
Not much to post right now, but my editorial instincts kicked in here...
(unless the word omission is in deference to the sensitivities of the Knights of Ni). Since Franklin has the luxury of being able to fix his typos, I thought I'd just offer a heads-up.
September 15, 2005, 12:39 PM
Actually, Artist A has seriously issue-oriented work. The exclusion is not about that, or not just about that.
September 15, 2005, 12:42 PM
As a devil's advocate, it'd be really easy to say, "Oh, well, there are so many artists, we can't get to everyone, you'll just have to be patient, I'm sure your time will come."
Or some dismissive shit like that.
September 15, 2005, 1:55 PM
Franklin, Jack wants you to get a tan and grow a wild shock of hair?
He's the one who advised me to emulate that mascot artist by issuing pictures of myself working with my shirt off.
Somehow I don't thimk he has our best interests at heart.
September 15, 2005, 3:46 PM
Perk up. What kind of world would it be where official comissions understood real art. Remember what the Paris art world did over a century ago --create a counter exhibition. Within three years, it was sponsored and paid for by the establishment. You can do the same, even in Miami. Takes some guts, a bit of talent and good PR, the latter is essential. Don't whine, just go do it. And, good luck.
September 15, 2005, 4:27 PM
Shaw, I empathise with your exhortations to get out and create a "counter exhibition". It is a good idea. I am not sure painters in Miasmi are anywhere near organized enough, know each other well enough or could possibly agree on anything (the Impressionists, despite their tiffs. more or less knew who they were). But it is certainly worth trying.
I am puzzled by your assertion that "Within three years (the Impressionist Exhibition) was sponsored and paid for by the establishment." The third Impressionist exhibition in 1877, three years after the first in 1874, was paid for largely by Caillebotte, who of course was an artist himself. They were nowhere near "establishement" at that time.
September 15, 2005, 4:29 PM
The "Miasmi" above was a Freudian slip, but I like it anyway.
September 15, 2005, 5:16 PM
Shaw made a sensible suggestion and we've tossed the idea around quite a bit already. Really, the meeting was an opportunity to talk about problems, so we did. Solutions, obviously, require action, and that will be the next step, either on our end, their end, or both.
September 15, 2005, 6:15 PM
Update: See last paragraph.
September 15, 2005, 7:31 PM
I expect the County arts people mean well and do the best they can, and this sort of meeting is a good sign, assuming it is followed up and acted on. The high-and-mighty institutional people, however, are a very different story. Among numerous objectionable matters, I still want to see heads roll when I think of the Museum Park bond issue business, and the heads in question are unlikely ever to get off my black list. Then there are the issues Franklin raised at the meeting regarding local artists, not to mention things like curatorial decisions in general, mediocre shows that stay up for 9 months when 9 weeks would have been too long, self-serving shows on museum architecture (yeah, right) and on and on.
I doubt the County can do much to shake up the institutions, which display no intention to modify, let alone abandon, business as usual. Maybe the thing to do is to stop beating dead horses (or recalcitrant nags of dubious use) and find new ones that don't have blinders on and can go somewhere other than the usual destinations. If an institution, regardless of what it's supposed to do or claims to be about is, in fact, not meeting one's needs or satisfying one's expectations, then it should be treated accordingly.
In other words, maybe we should stop looking to turnips for blood, start treating them as turnips, and stop going along as if they were something other than turnips. Turnip fanciers, of course, may suit themselves.
September 15, 2005, 11:03 PM
Maybe we can talk Goldman into using his front room as an exhibition space for painting
September 15, 2005, 11:19 PM
September 15, 2005, 11:21 PM
Testing the edge without concern over the market
September 15, 2005, 11:27 PM
Put energy behind your chanpion
September 15, 2005, 11:29 PM
Put Energy Behind Your Champion
September 15, 2005, 11:37 PM
Anyone who will show Rene Barge is cool
Do the backup
Help build the site
Write the dialog, thought as word, word as image, image as experience.
September 15, 2005, 11:39 PM
You don't need outside support.
You need a voice
Use the assets you have.
September 15, 2005, 11:51 PM
It's not even midnight,
Where is everybody?
September 16, 2005, 12:32 AM
up working on the web-site...
The new rene barge works are gems, and I am so surprised that none of them have sold yet.
either way, I'll keep showing him.
September 16, 2005, 7:46 AM
Thank you for the kind words. I have mighty opinions regarding sales and institutions. However, I will limit myself to standing by and asserting Brooks position culturally here in Miami, where it is not a business as usual venue and where the platforms of recent avant phenomena in art history are not used as exploitive foundations to sell or bolster the artist roll. Neither is the cult of youth as defined and propagated by the old... I have never seen one 'cultural leader/mover/shaker' at the venue when the likes of Albert Ayler, Isaac Brock, Cock ESP, M J Schumaker, S. Peters, etc. are providing some juice for concideration. When push comes to shove, potentially challenging moments at the Dorsch Gallery have never been compromised by the need to sell art and Brook has never squandered an artist potential in favour of endlessly replaying the 'cultural leaders/movers/shakers' greatest hits. The venue does not promote itself nor its exhibited works as 'cutting edge' on the backs of the reputations of creditable artist either. The society will stand as it wishes, culturally, sub culturally, non culturally, etc. it will always be dictated by trends which will uphold the capital necessary for its function at that moment. It is a job for some you know.
September 16, 2005, 7:55 AM
Rene: When Brook put up that AIM show a whole ago you had some straightforward abstract paintings that were excellent. What happened to those?
September 16, 2005, 12:30 PM
who is artist A and who is artist B?give us a hint?please?
September 16, 2005, 12:38 PM
September 16, 2005, 4:32 PM
I don't know who Artist B is but I hate Artist B.
September 16, 2005, 8:45 PM
Good one, Martin.
September 15, 2005, 11:03 AM
What exactly is "Maimi Dade Cultural Affairs"? Sounds like death on wheels.
No one around here takes the slightest interest in my work either, despite all that kind of thing you mention above, but I just assume that is because it is about as low on the fashion totem pole as anything can get, and I just accept it and don't bother worrying about it..
I am a little skeptiucal that anything can be done, but more power to you.