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Art for our sake

Post #877 • September 28, 2006, 11:03 AM • 14 Comments

In the Globe, via Necee:

What makes great art possible? Among other things, rent money and groceries. So it's good news that a new foundation, United States Artists, will start making annual awards of $50,000 directly to artists across the country.

The $50K grant requires nomination, but it looks like they have some smaller ones as well.




September 28, 2006, 11:57 AM

that's great, but sounds like you have to be pretty well known to get nominated in the first place.



September 28, 2006, 1:42 PM

They will have the usual committee of artaratchiks making the usual safe awards with a few gestures to the conventionally "far out", well seasoned with standard-issue PC and geographic distributions. The awards also cover just about anything that can be called "culture".

I don't see much reason to get too excited. We can only hope that good stuff will get made despite it.



September 28, 2006, 5:02 PM

What does a USA Fellowship honor?
USA Fellowships honor and award an artist’s unique vision as a whole rather than funding a particular project. Artists at different career levels, from emerging to established, are eligible.
How do I apply for a USA Fellowship?
To become a USA Fellow, one must be nominated. Each year, USA invites arts leaders, critics, scholars, and artists to serve as nominators. They do this important work anonymously. All nominated artists are then invited to apply through a simple online application process.


well, it is interesting that they dont care what project you are working on, but still....
if you aren't 'buzzworthy' AND safe, well, keep saving up for that next tube of paint.



September 28, 2006, 6:05 PM

Yes, indeed. You would not want to be rewarded for actual work. Much better to go huntiing for that elusive "unique vision as a whole". Maybe if you are just "emerging" that's about all there will be anyway.

Now, how do we get invited as "arts leaders" so we can, in turn, nominate our friends, who of course are all liberally supplied with "unique whole visions". Or, even better, nominate ourselves!

Naah. I think I just gave away how crude and low-class and self-serving I am. For shame!

But...all that money!

Oh well. Guess I'll go buy another lottery ticket.



September 29, 2006, 2:11 AM

""USA Fellowships honor and award an artist’s unique vision as a whole rather than funding a particular project.""

Perhaps I'm naively missing something, but this sounds good to me. I'd interpret it as meaning that the artist doesn't write up a proposal for a specific project with a detailed budget, but can use the money to paint or sculpt or pickle sharks or drink it up as they see fit. Doesn't the MacArthur grant work like this? A gift with no hoops or strings?



September 29, 2006, 7:14 AM

Getting $50K dumped in one's lap with no obligation attached sounds good to anyone, Katie.

The question is whether the criteria are practical and solid, and whether the money is well spent.



September 29, 2006, 7:37 AM

USA has modeled after the very early NEA grants. Lynne Munson has suggested that the structure NEA used then helped them pick the better artists of that time for support. It will be interesting to see if the revisit to non-public nominations has a positive effect.

Myself I don't think it will. "Process" is always trumped by the substance (or lack thereof) of the ones doing the picking.


Marc Country

September 29, 2006, 7:40 AM

Opie's right on with his question Now, how do we get invited as "arts leaders" ?

I hear filmaker John Waters is one of the 'leaders'... I hope he picks me... oh, wait, I'm not a "United States Artist", so I'm not in the running. Shucks... I coulda used that dough.

Good luck, y'all.



September 29, 2006, 5:24 PM

Such pessimism here... the pleasant Indian summer here (can I still say that?) is making me feel rather more optimistic and the USA Fellowships still seems like unqualified good news to me. Certainly a few of the recipients, anyway, will use the money to bring things of beauty into the world...



September 29, 2006, 5:46 PM

Indian summer is the best time of year, Katie. I miss it.

It's less pessimism than skepticism arising from long experience. Let's hope your optimism is justified.



September 29, 2006, 10:56 PM

I'm with you on this one ,Katie. "Project grants " seem to attract people who confuse having a hook with having a hunch about making art . They force anyone serious about straight ahead painting or sculpting to BS . It 's a good bit of cash that could keep someone working for a while . I hope it's used well.



September 30, 2006, 6:29 AM

Maybe so, Noah. But anything that proposes to reward "unique visions" is looking for BS in the first place. What they reward is anything but.



October 3, 2006, 7:34 PM

yes, yes. but how to choose 'qualified' artists with a 'unique' vision? i dont envy ppl with that job. i know good craftsmanship when i see it, i think i can identify talent, but when it comes to vision, creativity, and 'unique' ideas i think i fall back on my own interests. or at least my own experience when it comes to art history and critics. how do you reward someone monetarily w/o thinking about the 100 kids in some ghetto that you overlooked? chances are they are working 2wice as hard, no?



October 5, 2006, 8:35 AM

Sometimes i wish i was american. Art scholarships are a good foot up. It would enable me to get more art out there and to concentrate more on my art. Good luck to all those that get it. Cheers C



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