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do it yourself

Post #628 • September 20, 2005, 11:15 AM • 33 Comments

Via Artsjournal, Making Their Own Breaks: Technology is helping aspiring writers, musicians, artists and filmmakers go from amateur to pro; Who needs an agent when you've got the net?

Recently, I observed with some consternation that the museums have a track record of not playing ball with everyone. Recently, MOCA opened a show that provided some raw data regarding this sentiment. I haven't seen the show yet, but the PR lists 25 artists, and by my count, 11 of them hail from Snitzer Gallery. Kathleen came up with a useful coinage from one comment on her blog: SAAO, or Same Artists All Over. But of course, she said:

MAM and the Bass both have different artists in their collections, most of whom are not in the MOCA show. So the "SAAO" criticism falls through on the museum level. I've been thinking that the SAAO criticism is mainly a result of the small social circle of portions of the Miami art scene. I think it feels more SAAO than it is.

But go look at the Figuratively Speaking show up at MAM and look at which locals it includes: two Snitzer Gallery artists, and Edouard Duval-Carrié. (Although it wasn't a museum show, we found the same dynamic at work here.) I think it feels SAAO for the same reason that it feels wet when you lay in a bathtub. How did this happen? I think that Snitzer's prominence in the local art world derives from his enormous acumen as a gallerist. Really. His skills extend to the ability to influence, directly and indirectly, local museum curatorial programs and holdings, resulting in a perfect intersection of canny artmongering and public largesse. Snitzer is the Halliburton of the Miami art world.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. I want to talk about using technology to create networks around the official ones so that we don't have to base our success as creators on the tastes of a handful of people in entrenched and practically unassailable positions. The article linked above casually mentions that painters can produce their work relatively cheaply, especially compared to musicians. But distributing work costs us much more, to the extent that we are selling originals rather than reproductions. The new calculus indicates that musicians can have a career away from the big labels by producing downloadable tracks, selling them for not so much but keeping nearly all of the profit, and then making money by playing shows. Can we apply that model to visual art?

I think we can, with some caveats. One, we need a visual art version of Pitchfork, something that will get the word out about the good stuff regardless of where it comes from. I might consider devoting Artblog.net and/or Go See Art to such a function. I'd have a lot more fun doing that than chronicling the drear slog in the vast tracts of muck through which I wander in an attempt to find pearls.

Caveat two, the internet will favor art that reproduces well at 72dpi. Scale will become a non-issue. So might a lot of formal qualities. (This happens too in recorded music, by the way, but we've become used to it, and we accept that we can never own a live performance in the way we can own a work of art.) It would favor illustration, comics, very small scale work, high-quality reproductions, and prints of various media.

Will it enable major art? No. But it might help create a dual-tier market that would. If I had a following for my drawings and prints, it might drive a significant audience to a gallery when it came time for me to show my oil paintings. This could work for me because lately I've been getting back to my roots in illustration (I have a BFA in it from RISD). I would prefer that any kind of work could get on the boat, but I don't see how.

Comment

1.

Matty

September 20, 2005, 12:41 PM

SAAO reminds me of Basquiat's 'SAMO', which amounts to basicaly the same thing: SOS (same old shit).

SAAO would make an appropriate protest-graffiti tag on a gallery, down in Miami, or up here in E-town (if I have to endure another installation by local artist Lyndal Osborne, I may have to upgrade my spraycan to a flamethrower).

Any online communication collective that disfavors scale and physicality certainly limits its usefulness for sculptors (as Caro says, abstract sculpture (especially) is about "scale, scale, and scale again").
So, maybe the object needs to remain the object. Maybe it cannot be translated to the web. What does translate on here is the dialogue. So perhaps that should continue to be the focus (at least on Artblog.net). Images are the product, and it seems like one product can do as well as another, as far as galleries are concerned. The dialogue (as it's seen here) functions as the marketing. Expanding the range of influence for this marketing is perhaps more useful.

Ahab, Ms. Quoted, and I all live in Edmonton, Canada.. yet here we are, having a dialogue with active members of Miami's art community... if this knid of critical dialogue could continue to expand to thinkers on art from other cities, around the world, then we not only make connections, but we hopefully reframe the debate, until the 'grumbling of artists in the margins' spills out of those margins that it's been forced into.

2.

Jack

September 20, 2005, 1:01 PM

Feb 5-Oct 30: the dates for MAM's "Figuratively Speaking" show. We're absolutely, positively not talking Matisse and Picasso, Leonardo drawings, or Manet and Spain. We're talking embarrassing. Are these people taking 6-month vacations? Reminds me of an old British sitcom called Are you being served? Guess what my answer is.

3.

Rene Barge

September 20, 2005, 1:44 PM

Hello,
Good going Franklin! The option you present here is nothing new essentially, though it ought to be considered by all, and am glad you are taking conciderable interest in what will possibly be an exciting way of sharing work.
The D.I.Y. ethic has sincere truth, I've been active in such ethic for a while now (c.1990), and hence the installation, "gifts," at Dorsch Gallery. The DIY ethic, though considerably consumed and exploited into an aesthetics, has a delightful side that can only be experienced through the process of directly being engagement. Best Wishes.
Sincerely,
Rene

4.

Jack

September 20, 2005, 2:11 PM

I think that Snitzer's prominence in the local art world derives from his enormous acumen as a gallerist. Really. His skills extend to the ability to influence, directly and indirectly, local museum curatorial programs and holdings, resulting in a perfect intersection of canny artmongering and public largesse. Snitzer is the Halliburton of the Miami art world.

Franklin, you're starting to spook me. If you're right, then why am I so strangely immune to the enormous acumen? Could I be lacking buzz receptors? Am I suffering from fashion block? I mean, why don't I get all soft and squishy over Hernan Bas like I'm supposed to? Is it just possible that, unbeknownst even to me, I'm some sort of alien life form? You're freaking me out here. Quit it.

5.

Franklin

September 20, 2005, 2:13 PM

A good salesman knows who not to sell to.

6.

Franklin

September 20, 2005, 2:39 PM

Matty may have gotten it right up there - the ideas go around, not so much the images. It is pretty amazing here. We have Miami, Edmonton, Brooklyn, and occasional visits from Tbilisi. I love this medium.

7.

hans

September 20, 2005, 2:48 PM

For my little Tourism-business I counted, that I only need a 100 guests a year, out of a 80 million market only in Germany. As for the Art, I think for most of us should be 50 collectors/buyers a year enough. Thats quite possible to reach, and no need for hazzles with stupid gallerists anymore, as there are too few good ones.

8.

Rene Barge

September 20, 2005, 3:34 PM

Hello,
Franklin your response in #5 is impeccable. And, your response in #6... perfect.
A fact of a life is... If you do not know where the party is at, then you do not belong there! Abiding by such, reduces the fat in your personal life. I understand that there are those whom fore go their lives in place of a "cup of tea." I prefer a cup of brew where the cream rises!
Rene

9.

Germain

September 20, 2005, 5:46 PM

I'd much rather attend the ongoing serious/playful party in my studio between me and my work instead of any Halliburton opening, however au courant it may be. And Rene, you're always welcome to come over for a cup of brew.

10.

ms quoted

September 20, 2005, 5:56 PM

When I blow out the candles on my next birthday cake I am going to wish for an exorbitant amount of money (lets even make that American money) with the soul purpose of becoming an art gallery owner. Then all these issues would be resolved!

Ah the joys of naive daydreams.

11.

oldpro

September 20, 2005, 6:00 PM

"soul purpose", Ms?

Sounds more like lighting candles than blowing them out.

12.

catfish

September 20, 2005, 6:09 PM

ms quoted: I've always preferred Canadian bills, they are so much prettier than our drab, pretentious geenbacks.

13.

Franklin

September 20, 2005, 6:45 PM

"Soul purpose" has nice implications, though.

14.

ms quoted

September 20, 2005, 6:47 PM

bah! spelling mistakes!

15.

oldpro

September 20, 2005, 6:58 PM

Franklin's right, Ms. "Soul purpose" is one of those slips which make you want to grab the mistake and let the correct part go.

16.

Jack

September 20, 2005, 8:35 PM

A good salesman knows who not to sell to.

Yes.

Or, a good salesman knows which audience to target and which to ignore. Sort of like the arrested bank robber who, when asked why he held up a bank, simply said "Because that's where the money is."

17.

oldpro

September 20, 2005, 8:51 PM

"Because that's where the money is"

Willie Sutton, my childhood hero.

18.

Sean P. A.

September 21, 2005, 2:14 PM

I was sent here by Momus after being attracted to the obviousness of SAAO. I suppose that part of the problem is that there are very different motivations at hand, & that historically, art is for the rich, by idiot savants who can't do anything else & become kept artists or SAAO. Having lept from the world of Punk into the art world a good while ago, i was blown away by the mentality of artists these days, while there is a definite DIY Punky attitude amongst about 50% of young artists, it seems like just about none of them have the balls or brains to make it work. They are fundamentally insecure. So... something needs to give! I feel that something along the lines of the Russian Constructivists or Italian Futurists would be best, a mass art movement that sweeps everything else away. But who knows?

Lots of the more Punky artists have gone on to making toys, which i suppose could be seen as a populist art movement, but toys should be for children as far as i am concerned & the art toy deal has been creating a new creature along the lines of the comic conventioner, the art nerd, a permanent child with gross, materialist tendencies.

19.

oldpro

September 21, 2005, 2:53 PM

Sean, I am all for a gross, materialist art movement that sweeps everything else away.

20.

Franklin

September 21, 2005, 3:22 PM

I'll totally cop to being an art nerd. It's funny that you mention comics, because I've been looking at comics really hard for a couple of months, and, well, I've been sketching out some ideas. I think comics may be about to have its moment in the way that the novel had its moment in the late 19th Century. If one day we have to pick a watershed event, we may end up selecting the first appearance in this weekend's Sunday NYT Magazine of Chris Ware's several-month long serial comic.

Punk didn't invent the DIY attitude but I think we could learn a lot from its ferocious disrespect of established norms. Of course, punk culture became its own style of conformity - everything liberating does, after a while - but punks correctly determined, for instance, that it was better to put out your own two-track tape than wait for somebody else to produce you. Good luck with those toys.

(Above-mentioned Momus.)

21.

hans

September 21, 2005, 4:14 PM

Sean spoke straight out of my heart. From the 300 or more Artblogs of Zeke's recent list, I could hardly anything find, what to deal with in a progressive way. But where are the movements. When I saw Artkrush today with that Shit Promotion for some trousers, I immedeatly, canceled that newsletter. ffff

22.

George

September 21, 2005, 5:45 PM

Just your basic creation process in seven easy steps:-)

23.

ms quoted

September 21, 2005, 10:09 PM

When ahab was looking at different grad schools that taught Sculpture, a few years back, there were many examples of current student's piece on each web site. He saw 'jacket hanging on a chair' and a couple 'shirt hanging on a chair' at a least 3 different major Universities site across Canada and the USA. There could have been more but I will under exaggerate at this moment.

Hans:
Did the trousers have any interaction with furniture?

Soul vs Sole: I will just take it as a Freudian Slip. My subconscious is so deep!

24.

oldpro

September 21, 2005, 11:29 PM

The sameness has been going on for a long time, Ms. Many current pomo artists are doing projects similar if not identical to those being done 40 years ago - on the blog a while ago I pointed out a Robert Gober leg coming out of a wall which was practically identical to a Kienholz piece from the mnid-60s.

Once, when a judge for the endowments in the late 70s, I saw three submitted videos, each entitled "smile", each an hour long, each a young man's face smiling for the duration. The only thing different about them was what part of the country they came from.

25.

oldpro

September 21, 2005, 11:33 PM

And, of course, it is not like painting a face, which can be done by Rembrandt or Vermeer or Picasso or deKooning and be a face and still be wonderful.

Once a dumb idea is out of the can it's all over.

26.

Sean P. Aaberg

September 22, 2005, 3:13 PM

Franklin,
Hopefully this brief moment of the comic's potential being reached will last only a brief time before ordinary kids can go back to just buying & reading great heaps of them. I'm not so much responding to your comment, but rather, ranting & raving about Comics as "art" & comics as "cultural products". Comics are great & all that, but they really shouldn't be '"revered" in the way that terms like "graphic novel" do. At this point in time, the term "graphic novel" is about 20 years old, first being applied to the work of Frank Miller... but what he did wasn't new, it was just hyped beyond belief. Comics have their moments in the sun when people are buying them, not when intellectuals are letting them into the ivory tower. I'm sure you've read Scott McCloud's books, "Confusing the issue about comics I & II" or Art Spiegelman's "How to use the holocaust to elevate comics in the eyes of New Yorkers"... but really, comics should be gum wrappers (Spiegelman got his start working for Topps gum & created all-time trash culture great "Garbage Pail Kids") & for kids as well. Chris Ware is a FANTASTIC artist, but his writing is god awful! Who wants to know a comic artist's feelings!?! Not me. Not the kids.
That said, you'll have to take a look at my latest work SALT when it comes out in the debut issue of the Papercutter comics anthology (sometime in 2006).
!
s.

27.

oldpro

September 22, 2005, 4:09 PM

I pretty much go along with you Sean, but mostly just because the "graphic novels" I have tried to read just leave me cold. Comics probably should not aim self-consciously for "art" any more than jazz or pottery should. These things are too damn good on their own terms.

I was a huge consumer of comics as a kid, collected them somewhat later and did cartooning somewhat later than that, so I have some sensitivity to the matter.

Krazy Kat still really does it for me, though.

28.

Adman

September 23, 2005, 1:47 PM

OP....Geez--you couldn't be more correct in your assessment--KK RULES......

29.

Sean P. Aaberg

September 23, 2005, 9:24 PM

dat's cos Krazy Kat is REALLY GOOD!
s.

30.

oldpro

September 24, 2005, 11:13 AM

Well, I seldom get any kind of agreement about my art likes, so this is refreshing.

Herriman could not only draw like krazy but the colors were so wonderful, very strange and surreal, completely unlike the slap it on primaries the other strips used. And the story lines, despite that they alway ended with Krazy Kat getting a brick to the head, were often wierd and twisted and always very droll and tongue in cheek.

There were a lot of strips I loved but Krazy Kat was the best.

31.

Kathleen

September 25, 2005, 10:34 AM

How about Little Nemo in Slumberland? Or Jim Woodring!

32.

oldpro

September 25, 2005, 11:33 AM

Little Nemo is terrific, great ideas, but Herriman draws and designs better.

Woodring is OK but very conventional despite the fantasy and his shading is not good.

33.

Franklin

September 26, 2005, 4:23 PM

I'm a big, big fan of Woodring, and not just because he does a comic called Frank.

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