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Ron Paul on arts funding

Post #1188 • June 4, 2008, 10:02 AM • 258 Comments

From The Revolution: A Manifesto:

Some Americans appear to believe that there would be no arts in America were it not for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an institution created in 1965. They cannot imagine things being done any other way, even though they were done another way throughout our country's existence, and throughout most of mankind's history. While the government requested $121 million for the NEA in 2006, private donations to the arts totaled $2.5 billion that year, dwarfing the NEA budget. The NEA represents a tiny fraction of all arts funding, a fact few Americans realize. Freedom works afer all. And that money is almost certainly better spent than government money: NEA funds go not necessarily to the best artists, but to people who happen to be good at filling out government grant applications. I have my doubts that the same people populate both categories.

I knew that the NEA made a minority contribution to the arts, but I didn't realize that it was only 5% of the size of the private sector's. One would think that the private sector could take up the slack created by the NEA's elimination, particularly if it were timed to coincide with a decrease of taxation, made possible by the immediate end to our pathetic misadventures in empire-building abroad.

I've said it before: I'd like to know what distinguishes the collection or exhibition of a living artist's work by a publicly funded museum and any other kind of corporate welfare.

Oh, and the last sentence of that excerpt? Hard to argue.

Comment

1.

Eric

June 4, 2008, 4:48 PM

I'll start with a question. If you are in fact for dismantling the NEA would you also want the government to stop funding all types of cultural production? If not, where would you draw the line?

2.

Franklin

June 4, 2008, 5:24 PM

I think it would be better if the government stopped funding all kinds of cultural production. If I was going to compromise somewhere, it would be on the funding of museums that exhibit and collect the work of non-living artists. That would still be problematic in some ways, but not on the same scale.

3.

Eric

June 4, 2008, 5:31 PM

"I think it would be better if the government stopped funding all kinds of cultural production."

Would you be okay with this sentence if the words "kinds of" was removed from it? Do you think stopping all government support for the arts (dance, theater, film, writing, art, etc.) would drastically reduce the amount of art being made? Do you think government funding of the arts leads to more bad art being made? Would leveling the playing field, lowering the quanity of art being made by living persons, improve the overall quality of art being made by those who coninue to make art, post-government funding of the arts? Should the government play a roll in the preservation of already existing art? Who would decide what gets archived or preserved?

4.

Franklin

June 4, 2008, 6:05 PM

Would you be okay with this sentence if the words "kinds of" was removed from it?

Yes.

Do you think stopping all government support for the arts (dance, theater, film, writing, art, etc.) would drastically reduce the amount of art being made?

I doubt it seriously. If the above numbers are any indication, it might reduce it 5%. I tend to think that knowing that the government doesn't support art, more people would do so as individuals, especially if they were taxed less.

Do you think government funding of the arts leads to more bad art being made?

I do, and not just more, but at a larger scale, preserved more permanently, and to the benefit of shallower talents.

Would leveling the playing field, lowering the quanity of art being made by living persons, improve the overall quality of art being made by those who coninue to make art, post-government funding of the arts?

Not directly. But there would be a slightly greater ratio of signal to noise and make it more possible for better things to be found; once found, it could win support. The art market could stop following government imprimatur, which is what a publicly-funded museum show is, and instead follow what individual people want to preserve. This would tend to be bad for intellectual fashions because they could cycle out, like all fashions, instead of becoming permanently enshrined in the museum.

Should the government play a roll in the preservation of already existing art? Who would decide what gets archived or preserved?

I presume you mean already extant art in its possession - I have quite a few works in existence that I think the government has no responsibility for. This is a hard question of transition and I'd want to know more about the practicality of cutting the institutions loose. What I don't like is the current neocon strategy of staffing government posts with people who don't believe in government and then failing to do their job (see Brown, M., Bolton, J., Rumsfeld, D.) You have to simultaneously reduce government and empower citizens to take over responsibilites that once belonged to the state, so ending empire abroad and preserving the value of currency have to precede any of this.

5.

Franklin

June 4, 2008, 6:10 PM

Not to mention the elimination of federal income taxes. Yeah baby!

6.

John

June 4, 2008, 7:55 PM

At last, some relief from the merry-go-round about quality and invformation that leads to no where.

Once upon a time I was an art bureaucrat, during the time of Reagan when funding for the NEA was under threat. My knee jerk reaction was, ohmygawd, how terrible! Then a friend of mine asked "why do we need them?" I realized his implicit assertion was right. We didn't need them then and almost 30 years later I have found no reason to change my mind. (I had received funding from them, BTW, for a project that I directed at Virginia Tech, so this in not "sour grapes" speaking.)

In their early years they got some things right. They may not have funded the very best artists, but they supported a number of good ones. Lynne Munson has written a definitive book on that whole subject - EXHIBITIONISM IN THE AGE OF INTOLERANCE. Read it if this subject is of interest to you.

As the NEA progressed in time, it declined in all the ways Munson describes. I don't know Paul's position in the 60s, but he is on the right side of things now. I don't see the NEA ever returning to its achievements of the 60s. Lately, it is just a follower. I don't think it matters either way, not even 5%, if it is eliminated today, as far as art is concerned.

Ron Paul was my first choice for president, for whatever that's worth. As far as taxes go, I would like to see the income tax replaced with a sales tax on all financial derivatives. Stock options, spoos, secuitized piles of crap, all that stuff. Let those who sell those esoteric "products" collect a "use tax" from the speculators and leave the rest of us alone. It could start out small for small purchases, and esculate to 10% for any transaction where more than $20,000 changes hands.

Wouldn't Wall Street bankers love that?

7.

Franklin

June 4, 2008, 8:59 PM

Lynne Munson summed up her book for newCrit.

8.

Clem

June 4, 2008, 10:37 PM

You guys are a complicated lot. This isn't a criticism. From other posts that have been made I would never have expected to find so much confidence in the art market.

9.

Franklin

June 4, 2008, 10:57 PM

Well, the art market we have is a farce because of the influence of the public imprimatur. Take this away and it would operate in a much different manner.

10.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 5:52 AM

I used to think the way you do, Franklin -- I used to be more, to possibly misuse a term, libertarian. But my thinking has wandered away, and I'll tell you why.

I think of government as a tool. It's a tool for people to do things that are hard to do as individuals. For example, it's possible for everyone to own their own in-ground swimming pool. But in some cases it's easier, instead, for a town to put all the residents' resources together and get one big in-ground pool for everyone to use. The same way it's easier for everyone to put some money towards the armed forces rather than have everyone defend their own house individually.

So, really, government, to me, is about deciding what to do with shared resources. We put all our money together in a big pile and say, okay, what do we want to spend this on? That's basically it. Of course in practice it gets a lot more complex.

One of the things we would like to spend some money on is culture, either supporting the creation of art or its preservation.

And our money is going to be spent anyway. In England they support TV by using tax money. In America we support TV by advertising -- which cost is eventually passed on to the consumer anyway. In fact I'd say that those "private donations" are mostly from corporate coffers; and those corporate coffers are filled by what? Our money. So either way -- government or private -- we're paying for art. The only question is who gets to make the decisions about where that money goes. If it's tax dollars, bureaucrats and politicians make the decisions. If it's corporate donations, bureaucrats and businessmen make the decisions.

I honestly don't see much of a difference. Whether you're convincing some paper-shuffler at the NEA to fund your pile of construction debris or some paper-shuffler at PepsiCo to fund your pile of licorice, does it matter? Maybe it's more personal if Warren Buffet hangs your broken crockery on his wall rather than some Taxpayer Funded Art Institute.

Maybe we should have an art voucher system, the way Pretty Lady suggests a healthcare voucher system. Every taxpayer gets $5000 in art credit to buy stuff to hang on their walls at home. Here come the sad clowns! There ought to be clowns!

I think, at bottom, the West just has so much damned surplus everything that we have to keep inventing ways of using it. And every system we come up with is going to look dopey from some angle.

11.

opie

June 5, 2008, 6:24 AM

It matters in the details, Chris. Systems are each corrupt in their own way.

I knew a lot of the people in the original endowments back in the 60s, got a grant in the late 60s and was briefly head of an NEA panel in the late 70s, when things were headed downhill.

The dedicated pros and the government people were OK when things were forming. The problems came up when the dogmatic idealogues, careerist curators and academics got into the act, (usually in the name of "fair represenatation of opinion"). It's a long story but it led, eventually, to self-destruction by funding and exhibition of artists like Mapplethorpe and Finley and the predictable downfall of serious arts funding through the agency of Senator Jessie Helms and others.

I think funding popular quality-of-life things like orchestras and puppet theaters that people generally like is OK. What is hard to do is anything that tries to promote "advancement of the arts". When this means "making art better", as it often does, there's trouble in store.

The Lynne Munson book John mentions is fun to read - anecdotal, common sensical, instructive - and should be read by anyone who has any interest in government arts funding. You can get it discounted on Amazon.

12.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 8:06 AM

The same way it's easier for everyone to put some money towards the armed forces rather than have everyone defend their own house individually.

I'm not an anarcho-capitalist. The Constitution makes government responsible for the armed forces, roads, and a post office, and that's fine by me. But as it happens my house in Miami was across from a public park with a swimming pool and a junior high school. My front yard had become a presumed right-of-way, and junior high schoolers are pure hell on your landscaping. So I had to fence it off at my own expense, which meant suffering through a local bureaucracy that requires any fence being built to be inspected no fewer than five times. My fence, simple 4-foot-high chain-link affair, was inspected seven times before it was approved. Then my neighbor tried to do the same thing, dug up the egde of his property accordingly, and then was told that plans to widen the road that had been on the books for a couple of decades meant that he counldn't build his fence on the exact property line that I had built mine. The reason for the widening was to improve access to the park across the street. He had postholes and piles of gravel in his front yard for six months before I finally sold my house and left the city. These things have costs that no one can be made responsible for because they are employed by the government.

I honestly don't see much of a difference. Whether you're convincing some paper-shuffler at the NEA to fund your pile of construction debris or some paper-shuffler at PepsiCo to fund your pile of licorice, does it matter?

It does, in a lot of ways. If Pepsi wants to fund piles of licorice, what the hell, it's their money. If the NEA wants to fund piles of construction debris, it's my money, and worse, piles of construction debris become stamped with a government imprimatur marking them as a public good, promotion of general welfare, and shared cultural treasure. (As opposed to, say, Pepsi's whim.) This in turn lends undue credence to perpetrators of piles of construction debris which they can then translate into market leverage. If you're like me, you get to make your case to the same market without the benefit of that imprimatur.

Too, libertarianism presupposes that any entity shielded from the consequences of its actions will slide into ridiculousness over time, and the history of the NEA illustrates this.

13.

John

June 5, 2008, 8:29 AM

Clem (#8): "I would never have expected to find so much confidence in the art market."

If you are referring to Munson's last paragraph, I do not share the confidence she expresses there. In fact, in conversation with her, she expressed her own reservations, saying that pomo had a better chance of remaining "a player" than the ultra-conservative work many of her fellow conservatives favored. It was as if she agreed that the best does not necessarily rise to the top, and that a system in decline may not weed out the worst.

My interpretation, then, of her last paragraph is that it represents her view of how the system ought to work, and a hope that it eventually will work that way.

Note also that "years later" does not peg a number to those years. Some revisions of art opinion have taken 100 years or more, el Greco, for instance. Although successful in his lifetime, soon after his death in 1614 he was rejected because his mannerism didn't square well with baroque. (A culture war of the past, eh?) It wasn't until well into the 1800s that his work came back into appreciation.

The formation of art opinion is a strange process, one that lays itself open to weird speculation, one that, I'd say, deserves weird speculation. So when folks say, as the pomos did, that it is all about social and political bias and not the "quality" of the art, art opinion is getting what it deserves. That does not mean, however, that the pomo speculation is correct. Just that art opinion does not proceed by a perfect methodology. But it may be the best method available, hell, it may be the only one available.

That method does nothing to guarantee there will never be a decline in art. As I said in my own SLIPPERY SLOPE:

"But I question Clem's [Clement Greenberg] implicit assumption that serious art can go on without recognition by the community of artists, and ultimately, by society at large. This does not mean lowbrows must love good art, as they love Norman Rockwell. This does not mean middlebrows must love good art, as they love David Hockney. But it does mean the group most committed to art, the "art system", has to at least tolerate good art. There must be a center of support - a sense that something important is going on - that extends beyond those who are making the work. Serious art is not the fruit of a solitary genius living on a desert island. (Gauguin is not an exception - he was part of the central group first, then he moved out to the islands, taking his methods and attitudes with him.) High art requires a "critical mass" of support or it will wither, no matter how talented and dedicated any individual artist is.

"When the central group is weakened, the sense of belonging to something that is "hot" and valuable is weakened too. Eventually the group disintegrates, leaving pockets of good art and good artists here and there, but the goodness becomes conservatory, a maintenance of a status quo, not the vital renewal that refreshes the best new art. The upward thrust goes sideways, crab-like and awkward. As good as some of this art is, it is like an airplane stuck just short of the speed of sound, shaken by the physics of its predicament. It doesn't quite sing because it never reaches the smooth air just beyond its reach."

14.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 9:42 AM

Franklin sez:
These things have costs that no one can be made responsible for because they are employed by the government.

Government can always be relied on for one bureaucratic nightmare or another. My condolences on your difficulties. But, you know, any system of sufficient complexity is going to have problems. There are always people to abuse any system, whether it's overly reliant on government intrusion or overly free of restrictions. I grew up in New York City -- if there's anything I understand, it's fucking with the Man. (I'm no good at it, mind you, but I understand how it happens.)

If Pepsi wants to fund piles of licorice, what the hell, it's their money.

Interesting theory. Except large corporations have so many ways of parting you from your money, including convincing politicians to give them tax breaks, government subsidies, offshore accounts -- I don't need to go on, do I? Ultimately, you pay for it. Remember that America is built on capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich.

You might argue that your system would revamp all of that, too, while it's eliminating arts funding. Which would be great, because then we could all spend a few years learning how to game the new system so the next generation has something new to bitch about.

Okay, maybe I'm being excessively cynical. But, taking another tack, if NEA funding is so minuscule -- and it is -- it's certainly not eating up a lot of your paycheck. $121 million in one year amounts to, what, 50 cents a year per taxpayer? Compared to all the corporate welfare for General Motors, or Exxon-Mobil -- and god forbid we get into defense contracts.

I have no doubt that the NEA sucks, but judging by recent auction results, private collectors aren't much of an improvement. Maybe the NEA brought us Mapplethorpe and Serrano (although personally I have nothing against either of them as artists) but the private sector brought us Koons and Hirst, Warhol and Beuys, Johns and Rauschenberg.

15.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 10:21 AM

Except large corporations have so many ways of parting you from your money, including convincing politicians to give them tax breaks, government subsidies, offshore accounts...

Obviously, that crap has to stop too. Just as you have to end the war before you do anything else, you have to end corporate welfare before you end individual welfare. In fact, it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about ending the NEA before we're out of Iraq, but this is an art blog.

16.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 11:30 AM

I don't know what all much about the NEA, but being more familiar with federal, provincial, and local funders here in Canada, maybe I can still make a couple of points.

Of course it's frustrating to see funding go towards projects, artists, and philosophies that we don't personally agree with. And I'll agree that there does seem to be a particular kind of bias that develops in bureaucratic systems (and of course this Chris' point is well taken that this isn't limited to governmental regimes). The thing is, your particular school seems to be out at the moment-- and this isn't only evident in terms of governmental funding. I'm pretty sure that if this changed, so would the nature of your criticism.

I don't want to make assumptions here, so I'm interested in wether or not most of you have recently been involved in any aspect of the NEA's operations, or constructively tried to effect change? Examples would be helpful.

17.

Eric

June 5, 2008, 11:43 AM

“I'm pretty sure that if this changed, so would the nature of your criticism.”

So where is this line of thinking going to go from here ‘Clem’? You are basically saying that Franklin is whining about the NEA because his art and the art he is enthusiastic about isn’t currently favored by NEA, and that his NEA bashing would end the moment they turned around and supported art that resmbled his or the art he likes. You do realize that it is completely transparent what you are saying and how you are saying it right? How can you think this is a productive approach to any topic?

18.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 11:55 AM

Personally I'm so far out of the loop -- any loop, you name it, I'm out of it -- that I can safely say I have no experience whatsoever with the NEA or anything or anyone related to it. I'm not even all that clear what they do, other than get their funding cut. I mean, I have a vague idea that the NEA gives money to art-related activities in some capacity. And that everyone got mad at them when it turned out some showing of Mapplethorpe's buggery photos had been partly funded by them.

I know for sure I'd certainly like the NEA a lot more if they gave me, personally, a hundred grand. I'd like them a helluva lot. Whoo! I'd kiss NEA ass so much, my face'd become a permanent pucker.

I know Franklin's objection -- not that the NEA funds art he doesn't like, but that the government has its muddy fingers in art at all. Personally I don't much mind because, on the long list of things our government wastes money on, the NEA is way down near the bottom. I mean, $121 million doesn't even buy toilet paper for the Senate, most likely.

Yeah, this is an art blog. I guess that makes the NEA fair game. But still, fixing the NEA would be like making sure melanoma patients have really good manicures.

This kind of topic opens the door to discussing the general waste of the capitalist system, which to me gets so huge and complex, tackling it from a purely libertarian perspective is pointless. Bucky Fuller once estimated that 60 percent of working Americans are doing jobs of no worth whatsoever -- such that all of them could stay home and have their paychecks mailed to them and the country would go on pretty much as it had. I only think Bucky's wrong by being too conservative -- my totally uneducated guess is at least 80 percent of Americans perform no useful work.

With that kind of background, who really cares what stupid things are done with our tax money?

We're also edging into the idea of what happens when the government spends money. When anyone spends money, really. It's not as if the government takes $120 million and burns it in a big pile. It pays it to people. Those people then pay it to other people. And so on. It's not wasted, exactly -- it's just being redistributed. Someone's got to decide how the money gets redistributed. And almost any scheme for making that decision is going to have big, stupid holes in it. I mean, today I spent ten bucks at White Castle. Why didn't I spend ten bucks at the Cuban place down the street which is owned by people whose kids go to the same school mine do? I dunno. No rational reason. The Cuban food is much, much better than White Castle. Hell, licking the gutter outside my house is probably better. And yet, there I was, suckin' down those greaseball burgers.

I mean, ultimately, I'm not sure the NEA does anything worse with my money than I would. Especially if it's only 50 cents a year. I'm pretty sure I lose that much in my sofa.

19.

opie

June 5, 2008, 12:19 PM

If you "don't want to make assumptions" then don't make assumptions. It is pointless, annoying and does not advance the conversation.

20.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 12:23 PM

You have to admit that you'd be pissed if an official of the State of New Jersey took your ten bucks and bought you White Castle without asking whether you wanted Cuban instead. The point is not that you'd spend the money better, but that it's yours to spend as you see fit.

21.

MC

June 5, 2008, 12:23 PM

I'm interested in whether or not Clem has recently been involved in any aspect of Canadian art funding operations, or constructively tried to effect change? Examples would be helpful...

22.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 12:32 PM

If by transparent you mean that I'm referring to self-interest, then you're right. I tend to think that most assertions of artistic decline partly relate to this. Though not flawless, I continue to find the art world exciting and vibrant.

I'm not trying to be a contrarian, arguing with everything you guys say. I agree with a certain points of the criticism that's been made (like the absurdity of neo-cons being in charge of big government organizations). I'm just asking what you're doing about.

For the record, I said that I liked many of John's paintings. Franklin's comics do it for me a whole lot more than the paintings on his site. MC and Ahab's sculptural works don't interest me much, but I'm trying to do a better job of keeping my eyes peeled, rather than ignoring them. But when arguments about "quality" pop up, I'll continue to mention self-interest as a factor.

23.

opie

June 5, 2008, 12:37 PM

"But when arguments about "quality" pop up, I'll continue to mention self-interest as a factor."

Which is nothing more than an reflection on your character.

24.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 12:38 PM

"I'm interested in whether or not Clem has recently been involved in any aspect of Canadian art funding operations, or constructively tried to effect change? Examples would be helpful..."

Most recently I pointed out to you and Ahab that you could nominate jurors for the grant that he'd been turned down for, then complained about. I'd like to think of that as constructive.

25.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 12:38 PM

It's also one of the logical fallacies. Off to get my book...

26.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 12:43 PM

Well then I'll just wait for you to pull out a logical proof that the art world is in decline.

27.

MC

June 5, 2008, 12:47 PM

Re #24:

No, seriously, answer the question Clem.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot... you're HIDING...

Shhh...

28.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 12:51 PM

Appeal to motive, which is a special case of argumentum ad hominem circumstantial. Note the "ad hominem" bit.

29.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 12:53 PM

It's funny you should mention that as a problem...

30.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 12:56 PM

Where's your factual or logical proof that the art world is in decline. Second Request.

31.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 1:00 PM

Was #30 directed at me? I don't remember claiming that the art world is in decline.

32.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 1:01 PM

I apologize, I am being imprecise in the above.

How does the NEA contribute to this perceived decline? What is your case that it doesn't support and advance quality visual art?

33.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 1:02 PM

(I realized that even before seeing your reply)

34.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 1:13 PM

What is your case that it doesn't support and advance quality visual art?

I know it anecdotally by what I see in the museums. But I'll go even further: government is force, and force is incompatible with cultural decisions. This would be true even if I liked what I was seeing in the museums, or even if they were falling over themselves to put my work there.

35.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 1:21 PM

"I know it anecdotally by what I see in the museums"

Inappropriate generalization.

"government is force, and force is incompatible with cultural decisions"

And the market isn't force? Jesus!

36.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 1:30 PM

Inappropriate generalization.

Oh, it may be a matter of judgment, but it's appropriate, I promise you.

And the market isn't force?

They don't call it the "free" market for nothing.

37.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 1:44 PM

I realize that this is all blogtalk, and that what you're writing can't be judged by the highest of research standards. But saying that you went to some museums and didn't like what you saw (without actually tying a specific museum's programming into NEA funding) isn't much of a case. It's an opinion, which is separate from a factual generalization.

Regarding your discussion of government as force, you'd be surprised about how increasingly unified the free market is. Besides, funding choices are not executive decisions (at least not up in Canada). If you were going to make a criticism about how unified the NEA's funding choices were, then you'd need to prove it. It seems to me that looking at its list of annual grants for visual arts would be a better place to start this than your anecdotes. You'd probably consider the panel make-up too. Does this seem unreasonable to you? And if you've already done so, then why don't your arguments point to this?

38.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 1:55 PM

My arguments don't point to this because my opinion about the art I generally see in the museums doesn't matter to them. If I generally liked the work, someone else wouldn't. It's not the government's job to make these decisions for people. And the idea that my work, most of all, belongs in a museum because it's some kind of public good is ridiculous.

39.

Cedric C

June 5, 2008, 2:09 PM

In your world Franklin, only the art that is easily sellable would survive.


Now, I undertand that 90 per cent of the stuff you like
in art, I might not like, and 90 per cent of the stuff I like, you wouln't (I take these assumptions from all the comments you've said over the years at Winkleman).

Still. I'll fight for my right to experience the things that I love, and it happens that I enjoy a lot of art that is hard to sell, that has nothing to do with a cute little drawing sold at 250 dollars, and that probably greatly depend on the NEA to exist.

You still have 95 per cent of the world on your side, so why want to take my 5 per cent away? Government pays for research in science. It's natural to have funds for "research" within the arts. Those type of researches are built on arguments that are spreadable on applications, that is why certain types of arts are getting preferential judgment. But that is not a sign that it is the best art. It is just that so much of the niceties are selling elsewhere, they don't need the NEA.
NEA provides that a wider variety of stuff is getting done so that a greater variety of people can catch their drifts.

So please let the experimental inter-relational socio-aesthetics experiences go through (even if we'll laugh about some it some day).


Cedric Caspesyan

40.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 2:59 PM

In your world Franklin, only the art that is easily sellable would survive.

I wonder what your idea of "sellable" is. Have you ever been to Art Basel/Miami Beach? I think that the market for faux-progressive nihilist baubles would survive somehow.

You still have 95 per cent of the world on your side, so why want to take my 5 per cent away?

Because the influence of the 5% on the remaining 95% is crazy.

The idea behind funding science is that the results will benefit life and property. As I said earlier, I refuse to see my own work as some kind of public good. That would just be extreme hubris.

Cedric, knowing that our tastes differ, why should I pay for the art you like? Why should I do so by paying an unaccountable third party to stamp it with a state-sponsored designation of importance, so I can in turn compete against it in the marketplace?

41.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 2:59 PM

"It's not the government's job to make these decisions for people"

So let's be clear, what you mean by government is the NEA adjudicating its panel members, these panel members making decisions on specific grants, and then qualified individuals making curatorial and programming decisions at specific institutions. And all of this, only a portion of most institutional funding. Not to mention that visiting the museum is an individual's decision to make. Definitely sounds like someone's making our choices for us... Unlike the private gallery system!

42.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 3:20 PM

Your "qualified individuals" might be my "unaccountable mandarins" for all we know. How does someone who believes that quality is not self-evident determine qualification?

Not to mention that visiting the museum is an individual's decision to make. Definitely sounds like someone's making our choices for us... Unlike the private gallery system!

The difference being that the gallery operates without my assistance. Entering the publicly-funded museum is the individual's choice to make. Paying for it is not. Government is force. I didn't say that - George Washington did.

43.

MC

June 5, 2008, 3:42 PM

"Your "qualified individuals" might be my "unaccountable mandarins" for all we know."

Unqualified individuals curate shows all the time...

44.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 3:57 PM

Unaccountable, huh? How about their responsibilities to funders, others involved in their organizations (boards, colleagues), and their audiences? You've accused me of not having visual experience before, but sometimes your comments sound like you don't have much organizational experience. Power can build up and be abused in any kind of organization. Like anything, regulation, transparency, and public consultation best address these issues. The US economic slump and continuous corporate governance disasters are proof of how well the market regulates itself when given certain slack.

I'm not aware of evidence in the states, but in Canada polling continually finds strong support of state sponsored cultural funding and initiatives.

45.

opie

June 5, 2008, 3:59 PM

Cedric, how can you say "In your world Franklin, only the art that is easily sellable would survive."

I dont get this. Isn't the precise opposite actually true? Franklin has basically been complaining about the dreck that has been selling hand over fist ever since he started the blog. Am I missing something?

46.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 4:07 PM

Also,

"I refuse to see my own work as some kind of public good. That would just be extreme hubris"

Amazing. Modesty finally enters the picture when characterizing your own work, as opposed to your judgment of others'!

47.

Jack

June 5, 2008, 4:34 PM

Franklin, just how much longer are we to be subjected to this utterly useless jackass who presumes to take up Artblog space, ad nauseam, apparently because it likes to hear itself expectorate pious trendy bullshit? What's the point of continuing to put up with this troll?

48.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 4:45 PM

Franklin sez:
I didn't say that - George Washington did.

Are we trying to cover every logical fallacy while we're here? Or just the main ones? Well, check off "argument by authority."

The free market doesn't exist, Franklin, and you know it. If anything, the art market is one of the freest free markets on the planet -- short of the Mafia -- and look at the wreck it's always been.

Also, you've asserted a few times that somehow the NEA's imprimatur carries a great deal of weight in the art market today. Really? I'd be interested in seeing something to back that up. Because, honestly, I don't think I've ever heard anyone really even mention the NEA as a factor in, well, anything to do with the art world. Now, I know I'm way out in the art world boonies -- cf. what I said earlier about loops, out of the -- but I think they'd have come up a least a couple of times. Still, I admit ignorance here. So enlighten me.

49.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 5:18 PM

Second request: How does someone who believes that quality is not self-evident determine qualification? To clarify: how do you determine qualification?

Unaccountable, huh? How about their responsibilities to funders, others involved in their organizations (boards, colleagues), and their audiences?

How about them? The funders don't answer to me, so let me not underwrite their influence. Likewise those on the boards. You're only as accountable to your colleagues as is professionally expedient, in the ways that are professionally expedient. And do the audiences have some way of protesting the decisions made besides the one you offered me, to stay out of the building? At least a movie theater will usually give you your money back if you walk out in disgust.

Power can build up and be abused in any kind of organization. Like anything, regulation, transparency, and public consultation best address these issues.

No, the best way is consequences for one's actions. And if I'm not underwriting the buffer between the actors here and their consequences, take the public money out of the organization and let's see.

The US economic slump and continuous corporate governance disasters are proof of how well the market regulates itself when given certain slack.

The libertarian position is that these problems have been abetted, if not downright caused, by government involvement.

Amazing. Modesty finally enters the picture when characterizing your own work, as opposed to your judgment of others'!

Something happens when you sign your real name on your works for all to see. It would only amaze you if you had never done it.

50.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 5:37 PM

Well, check off "argument by authority."

Just giving credit where it's due. It's not true simply because he said it, but I do respect his insight into the matter. The full quote is lovely: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

The free market doesn't exist, Franklin, and you know it. If anything, the art market is one of the freest free markets on the planet -- short of the Mafia -- and look at the wreck it's always been.

Hang on a second. The Mafia isn't the free market - it's lawlessness. You don't have a free market apart from protections of life and property and legal recourse for damages to same. I dispute that every aspect of the art market has always been a wreck; I assume some rhetorical overstatement there.

Also, you've asserted a few times that somehow the NEA's imprimatur carries a great deal of weight in the art market today.

I said the state imprimatur carries weight in the art market. You need only look at the impact of a museum show on a living artist's career to see the effect.

51.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 6:33 PM

"Second request: How does someone who believes that quality is not self-evident determine qualification? To clarify: how do you determine qualification?"

Not entirely the same way I assess quality in visual art, but pretty close. Have you ever conducted a job interview? Sometimes you have to do a lit more than look at the guy before making up your mind.

Having specific and factual criticisms of art professionals is one thing. Slandering them across the board is quite another.

"How about them? The funders don't answer to me, so let me not underwrite their influence. Likewise those on the boards. You're only as accountable to your colleagues as is professionally expedient, in the ways that are professionally expedient."

Feeling a little powerless, are we? Public funders do answer to you. Maybe just not as directly as you'd like. So do most public institutions. But then you've given no proof to having tried to effect change anyhow. Obviously, I'm not aware of your organizational experience and affiliations. What's at the heart of your cynical attitude? Do you really feel like you have no recourse?

"No, the best way is consequences for one's actions. And if I'm not underwriting the buffer between the actors here and their consequences, take the public money out of the organization and let's see"

You've already shown how little money the government, and we as citizens, actually contribute to the art-world. If you look at the funding for institutions like MOMA, SFMOMA, The Met, The Whitney, and Dia, Governmental funding is not a major contributor as is. It's smaller organizations and educational initiatives that will suffer, those who can't attract corporate sponsorship. And do you really want these more independent organizations to turn their already meager resources to marketing themselves? What is gained by this?

"The libertarian position is that these problems have been abetted, if not downright caused, by government involvement"

Yeah, yeah, everyone's heard Paul's ranting about sub-prime. Let me ask you this, why did the Fed come into existence in the first place? Business interests plain and simple. Regarding the tide of corporate mis-governance, I'd love to hear a libertarian explanation.


"Something happens when you sign your real name on your works for all to see. It would only amaze you if you had never done it"

Pride isn't necessarily bad. Just as there's plenty of false-modesty.

52.

Franklin

June 5, 2008, 6:56 PM

Not entirely the same way I assess quality in visual art, but pretty close.

So an individual is qualified because you judge him so, and that's your idea of a "qualified individual."

Slandering them across the board is quite another.

Show me where I slandered art professionals across the board.

Public funders do answer to you. Maybe just not as directly as you'd like.

And how does this happen?

What's at the heart of your cynical attitude?

You mean, what's my motive? There's a term for that fallacy.

Obviously, I'm not aware of your organizational experience and affiliations.

Obviously, I'm not aware of yours.

Regarding the tide of corporate mis-governance, I'd love to hear a libertarian explanation.

Pick an example, and I'll see if I can find one.

Just as there's plenty of false-modesty.

Better falsely modest than a coward. I will suffer most remarks from pseudonymous commenters. This isn't one of them. If you want to charge this against me, you can damn well sign your real name to it.

53.

Jack

June 5, 2008, 7:21 PM

Amazing. And I thought the miserable troll couldn't get any more obnoxious. How naive of me. I wonder how long such a creature would have been tolerated on a proper art blog.

54.

Hovig

June 5, 2008, 7:26 PM

The Fed is an anti-libertarian institution. For 20 years, Maestro Greenspan printed money by the bushel, and loaned it out by the cart. He caused a stock market bubble, followed it up with a housing bubble, and topped it off with an oil bubble. His successor is fumbling ineptly to put all those genies back in the bottle, and airlines are going bankrupt by the minute.

Free markets are not free in the sense of anarchy ("free-for-all"). They are free in the sense of the US Constitution ("the pursuit of liberty"). The government has an important role to play. They must guarantee freedom for all market participants. Is someone abolishing the SEC? The FDIC? The FHA? The Fed and the NEA don't contribute to the argument that free markets are mafias.

Anyway, one can argue endlessly the boundaries of the government's role, but in general no government agency can ever spend the peoples' money for a third party's benefit more wisely than the people themselves. Also no government agency can determine the proper price for a good or service better than a working market. Ask Clem to spend Opie's money to buy a present for MC and witness government in action.

Corporate malfeasance is punished -- and arguably over-punished -- every single day of the week. The fact that corporate corruption makes the newspapers on a regular basis is enough proof of this. Everyone in the world can name a handful of bad US corporations in a minute. This is only because those corporations are being prosecuted for their sins and their CEOs ceremoniously frog-marched before the cameras.

On the other hand, can you name the US Congressman who in 2005 was found to have $90,000 in cash in his freezer? Does someone want to argue that the lack of government corruption stories in the popular press means that government officials are in fact saints? Oh, please.

I look forward to the day that any government body is one-tenth as accountable as any corporate entity. And I'd think someone north of the 49th parallel would be more circumspect about discussing the role and power of government in light of the frighteningly out-of-control "Human Rights Commission."

But back to the original post, I don't yet buy the claim that the NEA is disturbing the practice of art in the US. I think that in order to make that case, you'd have to argue that Europe, Russia, Japan and China are being influenced by the NEA; or that museums are funded in such a way that they are beholden to the NEA moreso than their stakeholders; or that the NEA is actually doing something more substantial today than producing the occasional Shakespeare In The Park series; or that NEA grant-holders are somehow government tools.

I don't have a problem with 5% of the money in art being a bit funny. I'm no purist. And sometimes progress comes from funny things. If on the other hand the problem thesis is that the NEA is providing free money for unworthies, then maybe the best structure for the NEA is a lottery.

55.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 9:37 PM

I'm not really into this argument -- it's pretty much unwinnable, especially if you're as ignorant of politics as I am. Basically, I think libertarians have a very rosy view of what happens under limited government; which is not to say that lots of government is all that rosy, either. I mean, politics sucks, because it's boring, so only people with iron asses can stand it, and inevitably, under whatever system you start with, eventually the iron asses take over, because they're the only ones who want to put up with the minutiae.

But anyway.

Franklin sez:
The Mafia isn't the free market - it's lawlessness. You don't have a free market apart from protections of life and property and legal recourse for damages to same.

The Mafia is just the illegal arm of capitalism. They're a hair away from being regular old capitalists like the fine ones that built this country during the Industrial Revolution. Protections of life and property will eventually get dismantled when the rich need them to be.

I dispute that every aspect of the art market has always been a wreck; I assume some rhetorical overstatement there.

Well, yeah. It does have its ups and downs, I imagine.

I said the state imprimatur carries weight in the art market. You need only look at the impact of a museum show on a living artist's career to see the effect.

Museums != The State. So you've expanded the set from the NEA to all state-funded institutions (I assume not all state-funded institutions are paid for through the NEA). That still leaves privately endowed museums. I doubt the State carries more weight than some of those.

Also, in these modern times the State is a many-headed entity. New York City isn't the same government as Albany isn't the same as Washington. Which state has the weightiest approval stamp? The Feds? NYC? Edmonton? Wait -- that's another country entirely! Sort of.

56.

Phillip R. Spence Management

June 5, 2008, 9:43 PM

Should we really be shocked that the US government funds only 5% of the arts industry in the country? Think of every other industry in the US. Private industry, right or wrong, is the source of money spent on every industry running this country.

Do I think that the NEA is wrong for funding artists and cultural activities? Absolutely not. And is it really any different than private sources? If anyone thinks that government sources are more political than private ones, think again. How many people have shown at a private gallery because they knew someone? It is no different for the NEA. But to get rid of the NEA, we are just decreasing another source of funding for artists. Whether that funding gets to deserving artists or not is another story. But to get rid of that option, does not serve anyone does it?

57.

Chris Rywalt

June 5, 2008, 9:46 PM

By the way, I agree with Hovig, too. I just don't think the answer is to pull funding from most of the government and let everyone fend for themselves. The government spends a lot of money very stupidly, yes. But some small amount of the money does get spent wisely, in spite of all the waste, in a way that individuals would not.

"Libertarians" and "conservatives" (whatever those are these days) love to imagine that the profit motive drives innovation and our current way of life. They fail to note that most of the really big, really important projects undertaken in the last hundred years or so -- the ones that impact our day-to-day lives the most -- were implemented by the American government and later handed over to private corporations, once the major investment had been made. I'm thinking of the railroads, the highway system, the telephone network, and -- gasp and swoon! -- the very thing we're using to communicate right now. And as soon as these things look even slightly dodgy, they either get handed back to the government (I'm looking at you, Amtrak) or bailed out by the government (Chrysler comes to mind, but, really, name any major American industry at this point).

The free market, left to its own devices -- even with some government oversight -- can be disastrously stupid. Consider what we've done with the health care system in this country. Gosh, I remember the days when my parents covered their health costs by simply paying for them....

Eventually it's a question, not of whether to have a free market, but where the free market will operate. As P.J. O'Rourke once wrote, when legislation controls how things are bought and sold, the first things bought and sold are legislators.

I like, when I can, to take a bigger, larger, more inclusive view. One with art in it, paid for by whoever.

58.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 10:28 PM

Franklin,

I think you need to take a look back at what I wrote and assess it little more calmly. Particularly the last bit. I guess I can see how you might interpret what I was saying about false-modesty as directed to you, but I wasn't. I think that artists should be proud of their work and recognize the good that it is capable of. Your attitude towards displaying your art in museums is strange to me, but I wasn't implying that it was feigned.

"So an individual is qualified because you judge him so, and that's your idea of a "qualified individual.""

Yup, subjective judgment. Though in most institutions it's groups that make hiring decisions. It sounds pretentious, but let's call that inter-subjectivity.

"Show me where I slandered art professionals across the board"

You're right, I've gone past what you've said. You didn't say that all mandarins were unaccountable. But statements like this do generalize their influence as negative:

"Well, the art market we have is a farce because of the influence of the public imprimatur"

Some examples of institutional accountability in the NEA granting process, of which I'm no expert:
- Open application process
- Publicly available funding results
- Publicly available panel makeup and nomination (though not nearly as prominent and accessible as the ones wet have for for both Federal and Provincial funders here in Canada)
- Public nominations for specific grants
- Some public consultations (though I couldn't find regular scheduling)

And then there is of course the political route of lobbying, and the ballot box, which you are doing. Do you feel that you have similar opportunities to effect corporate funders? As an individual consumer does the amount of your taxation that goes to arts funding allow you to significantly participate in the market?

Arguing further about Libertarian positions and justifications that don't relate to the art world isn't of much use here. But Hovig, can you get at what you're trying to say about the Human Rights Commission in Canada? Is there a specific example you have in mind?

59.

Clem

June 5, 2008, 10:42 PM

Sorry, a quick question popped into my mind.

Do you feel that art education should receive tax-funding, or be left to market forces?

60.

Cedric Caspesyan

June 6, 2008, 1:10 AM

Opie: "In your world" meant, "in a world without NEA."


Franlin, I am personally confused as to what link endowment has with anything you find on the art market. It does lend money to museums, but they don't decide what goes on at the museum, this is specific to every cases For every major museum fund, many small art centres existing at the marge of the market are also getting funds. Funded art projets I presume are more influenced by current theories estimated by the scholars who decide which applications get accepted.


On this aspect:

Endowment is more likely to encourage the type of stuff
you find in art centres: performances, installations, etc.
In Canada, where the arts depend a lot on government
endowment, I find the quality of the art rather satisfactory.

The art market is attracted by the "ownable object",
be it aesthetically complex or bluntly conceptual, or
minimalist..whatever. It's always about the "object".


Endowment permits other avenues, but the idea
of why you should pay is undebatable if you don't
appreciate the sort of experiments offered by endowment.
But this is a social system: you don't like it, you cast a vote. I like it, I cast a vote. We're now 50-50. Then ask the vote to everyone else around, measure the results, and if you loose, than please respect a decision that was made socially.


So there, I told you, I like art when it tries
other avenues than making "objects",
so you can hardly convince me on letting the
market enhance every means of every artists.


Now, let's presume my "side" wins
the vote, and you get the Endowment.
Bingo for me: we can then move to your other
questions:


>>>How does someone who believes that quality is not self-evident determine qualification?


You are presuming two things:

1) That people who appreciate art that is not centered on aesthetic or making objects
believe that quality is not self-evident. Quality can be evident in all sorts of art...BUT

2) you are also dangerously presuming that good art should always be self-evident. I don't believe this. Even the greatest european masters used many tricks, references,
mathematical expositions, that are not self-evident at first sight. Sometimes the quality of art is to induce a sense of research and knowledge.


Same goes with people: you can only know their qualification by looking at curriculums
and reading the essays they've written.



Strangely, you described endowment decisions as if made by
functionaries.


They are circles of highly-respected people from the art world that are invited every year (the seats constantly roll) who make these decisions for you. It's a system that is based on the trust that by rolling the seats and inviting the people with the right curriculum to make choices, that we get a fair percentage
of artistic research that ought to be financed by the public (by "fair" I do mean that the process for artists will seem like winning the lottery: it very depends if you art catched the drift of the present selective judge, but since these judges shift, than you're getting a little more than the taste of one person).



Generally these panels are publicly accessible, at least
the ones where "deciders" are selected. So it's really
not like arts get funded by complete nobodies, you see?
It's a social system. If you don't like it, cast your
vote and here we are again. But I feel confident that
there will always remain a part of the population who
will trust achievments of the social realm. I'm
very open to it, because I like to have
the best of every worlds, and having both
a market system and endowment I find is
very healthy to culture.


I think the US is making big mistakes each time it
attempts to privatize everything, and make everything
depend on economics.


Cedric

61.

opie

June 6, 2008, 4:35 AM

Franklin, the blog is getting a serious case of bloatitis - Long, aimless, semicoherent comments along the lines of the egregious Clem. Everyone is up on a soapbox.

I wonder if there is some way to make posts more specific, or ask for a word limit, or something. Rules for debate? I dunno.

62.

Chris Rywalt

June 6, 2008, 5:42 AM

Rules for debate
Mean I can't bloviate!
And how can I relate
My wisdom and its freight
With less than a spate
Of words?

63.

Chris Rywalt

June 6, 2008, 5:48 AM

"The ownable object." I like that. I wrote once that the 20th century artist was all about creating the desirable object, and that maybe we should get back to creating the beautiful object. But either way I guess we're about the ownable object.

64.

opie

June 6, 2008, 5:56 AM

Rules for debate

Will stimulate

a panacea

for logorrhoea

65.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 7:06 AM

I may have to withdraw the majority of this post because I've picked through the NEA website and can't find anything addressing visual art except some education programs, and three museum websites I've looked at have no information whatsoever about their funding structure.

However, the openness and transparency described by Clem and Cedric fail to account what happened to the visual art grants at the NEA as described by Munson. I am no longer sure whether Clem is asking me to clarify my concerns about granting agencies or museums. The idea that the museums are somehow accountable to me is ridiculous.

To put this thread back on something resembling a track, I'm going to repeat an item in the original post: I'd like to know what distinguishes the collection or exhibition of a living artist's work by a publicly funded museum and any other kind of corporate welfare.

You're right, I've gone past what you've said. You didn't say that all mandarins were unaccountable.

I didn't even say that all arts professionals are mandarins. I think you need to take a look back at what I wrote and assess it a little more calmly.

66.

opie

June 6, 2008, 7:43 AM

I think the NEA is pretty much a dead issue for artists. Most of the grants are small, non-experimental, politically correct, regional and group oriented. I was puzzled by the volume of the discussion, frankly.

When you say "...what distinguishes the collection or exhibition of a living artist's work by a publicly funded museum and any other kind of corporate welfare" do you mean what is the difference in the effect each has?

67.

Jack

June 6, 2008, 7:48 AM

"I guess I can see how you might interpret what I was saying about false-modesty as directed to you, but I wasn't."

Not to worry, Clam. I'm sure Franklin believes you. Just like I believe politicians really mean what they say, lawyers are the salt of the earth, and Hillary Clinton has "stood by her man" because she's a fool for love. Actually, the latter is marginally more plausible than you being something other than a disingenuous troll who's definitely hiding relevant personal data.

So how long's your nose now? Must reach all the way to China.

68.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 7:58 AM

I'm saying that it's corporate welfare when a publicly funded museum gives a show to or collects the work of a living artist. The only difference as far as I can tell is that I like art and I don't necessarily like oil companies.

69.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 8:05 AM

Regulating what I have to say
Is that the libertarian way?
Or does the measure of what's blogworthy
Reside solely in the rights for this property?
That would explain how we've been selective when
Pointing out what is unacceptably ad hominem

70.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 8:08 AM

#69 was a missed opportunity for a limerick. Get your head in the game, man!

71.

opie

June 6, 2008, 8:23 AM

I go to the blog full of dread
That there's no sense to what's being said
If I have to say hello
to a shit load of jello
I say goodbye to the thread

72.

Jack

June 6, 2008, 8:26 AM

Wait, let me get this straight: Clam wants to be an asshole with nothing to offer except a trendoid PC troll job,`and he still expects to be treated like murderous dictators are when they show up at the UN to promote their views?

But of course...NOT.

73.

Chris Rywalt

June 6, 2008, 9:00 AM

Opie, your limerick is the first thing I've laughed at on Artblog in a long while.

74.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 9:13 AM

Franklin,

Sorry, but as you well know, I mostly go for visual poetics.

Opie,

I only going to say that's the free-market for you. But I'll try to work on the economy of my responses.

Back to museums. They certainly resemble corporations in a lot of ways, don't they? Though I'm not aware of any museum IPOs having happened, yet! As you've touched on, what separates them is the claim that they fulfill a public good. This seems what you're critical of, so maybe we need to substantiate it. The idea of public collections is a relatively new idea. But government and other authorities have never been far from the largest collections of art in history. And today you have the best chance of saying that these collections are held in trust for the public. Though indeed you need to pay to see most exhibitions, and their are administrative obstacles to looking at parts of the collection and materials that aren't on display, I would suggest that these are still reasonably accessible to most members of the public. One of the other major "goods" is that they often serve as sustainable archives. I don't think you see this impulse as much in the free-market, where financial worth is primarily what's at stake. What I find interesting is that many private and corporate collections eventually turn themselves over to public institutions, or found public institutions themselves. Maybe it's a recognition of the different kind of function and environment that public institutions can often fulfill.

I've got other points to make, but will leave it at that for the moment!

75.

opie

June 6, 2008, 9:18 AM

Thanks Chris. We need a few laughs around here.

76.

opie

June 6, 2008, 9:22 AM

Please try, Clem. Most of your "points", as you call them,are more like interminable rambles. What you said above could be said better in 10% of the space. "Coming to the point" is a virtue.

77.

Chris Rywalt

June 6, 2008, 9:23 AM

I think I get it now, Franklin. You're saying you object to the fact that, when a museum gives a show to a living artist, that's the closest thing to a guarantee, a sort of government contract for the art world, like Halliburton being given a defense contract guaranteeing millions of dollars of profit -- profit paid for by taxpayers. In other words, a museum show is akin to the museum curators transferring money from us to their hand-picked artists.

And even if the museum money isn't directly ours (as it is in the case of the government and Halliburton and Blackwater and so forth) still, it's an abuse.

Do I have this approximately right?

I think I agree with you, that it's unfortunate and unfair and probably wrong. But it seems to me it's how everything works -- ultimately, it's all about human relationships, or, to put it less philosophically, schmoozing. From the lowest level to the highest, I think Hi had it right in the movie Raising Arizona: "You see, it's who knows who -- and then over here you have favoritism."

I saw it in college and I see it now. I'm as surprised as anyone to find that small town politics is run just the way student organizations were run back in school. And more and more I'm thinking it's not actually wrong. It's just human. You work with who you know. There's this guy in town. He's not a friend but we know each other on sight, from coaching soccer and Boy Scouts and so forth. He's a councilman and he organizes events and he also runs an insurance company. And if I ever need insurance, I'm probably going to go to him, because I know him from around. He probably doesn't know my name but he knows who I am and if he knew I was a computer guy, he'd probably hire me to do his Website. That's just how things go -- you work with the people you know.

So if I somehow became a curator, I'd mount shows with you, Franklin, and Pretty Lady, and Jim Wolanin and Steve LaRose and Tracy Helgeson, not because you're the best (although I like all the work) but because you're the best I happen to know personally. (And I'd probably want to see more from OP and Eric and, hell, even George, to see if I'd want to show their stuff, too.) And I'm sure that'd piss someone off, someone who thought you all sucked and I was an idiot. And I guess they'd be right, too.

78.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 9:31 AM

Hmmm,

I didn't really address the living artist part of Franklin's comment. But archives and display have to start somewhere. I don't see why these institutions need to neglect contemporary work and issues.

79.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 9:50 AM

Let me float out this opinion too: members of the public are more comfortable in public, rather than private galleries. I'm not sure if there are stats on attendance to back that up though...

80.

Hovig

June 6, 2008, 9:59 AM

Clem - In the US the concept of free markets in education would take the form of school choice. A local governent is already paying something like $10,000 per child per year for public school costs. (Primary education in the US is a state and local matter, not federal). The idea is that every parent should have the right to send their child to any school they can get into academically, including any private school, and apply that $10,000 toward tuition. Chris is right that the profit motive can be good or bad (one can think of political graft as profit), but I don't see how any system can improve without competitive pressure at the margins.

As for the HRC I'm referring to their struggle with various "freedom of speech" issues [ref wikipedia], the most recent of which is the Maclean's / Mark Steyn case. The HRC seems like a bit of a governmental loose cannon to me.

81.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 10:35 AM

Here's some somewhat dated Canadian stats:

http://www.canadacouncil.ca/NR/rdonlyres/53729882-FDC4-4CB9-B591-684DDC7665E4/0/museums_tables.pdf

Of course I could probably get challenged on comfort being equated with attendance. And to be clear, my point is not about quality, it's about how the general population uses these public institutions because it's the general public who pays for them.

Hovig,

Your example of Steyn would have more traction if he'd actually been convicted or censured, but he hasn't and most people don't think he will. I'm no expert, but difference between the CHRC and the American equivalent seems to be the entrenched political autonomy and judicial support that our's receives. Our current conservative government is complaining and struggling with this, but as it stands, the law is the law.

82.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 10:35 AM

The thing is, Chris, if you were curating for a private collection and you wanted to work with your buddies, that's your privilege. But doing the same thing as an alleged public good is wrong. I tend to think you're right about how things work, because I've seen exactly that happen in the museum setting. I don't think I should underwrite it.

I didn't really address the living artist part of Franklin's comment. But archives and display have to start somewhere. I don't see why these institutions need to neglect contemporary work and issues.

I was going to point out the same thing. As I said earlier, I don't have as big of a problem with museums preserving cultural treasure. But the museums don't collect every living artist's work equally. They make selections, roughly in the manner described by Chris above, and typically according to ideas of what constitutes the best work that I disagree with. My disagreement isn't important in itself, but anyone's disagreement ought to be, as it's inevitable, and you're asking people to underwrite their exclusion from shared cultural patrimony. The musuems ought to be coming late to the party. They shouldn't be shaping careers.

Charles Murray has suggested a $3,000 per child voucher akin to Hovig's suggestion in lieu of the public school system, which has problems even beyond the inevitable inefficiencies of government. I recommend Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto for the details.

83.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 10:41 AM

The HRC actually did officially censure Steyn, in a manner unbecoming a democracy that guarantees free speech and judicial process.

84.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 11:03 AM

I guess it's not really up to me to make some of these museums' arguments for them.

From Moma:

- That it is essential to affirm the importance of contemporary art and artists if the Museum is to honor the ideals with which it was founded and to remain vital and engaged with the present.
- That this commitment to contemporary art enlivens and informs our evolving understanding of the traditions of modern art.

85.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 11:09 AM

Unsurprisingly, MoMA's mission statement does not address my concerns in #82.

86.

Jack

June 6, 2008, 11:11 AM

Re #61, I suggest that, after a period deemed suitable by the blogmaster, anyone whose net contribution to the blog is judged by the blogmaster to be clearly unprofitable, disruptive or otherwise dysfunctional be kicked out.

There's no law that requires suffering fools gladly, let alone fools that deliberately mean to cause suffering.

87.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 11:14 AM

"The HRC actually did officially censure Steyn, in a manner unbecoming a democracy that guarantees free speech and judicial process"

Are you talking about the current case in BC, or the one that was dismissed in Ontario?

Rick Salutin, a mainstream columnist, who himself characterized the case as hinging on freedom of expression, had the following to say:

"The interesting part of the case is that the complainers asked not for an apology or correction — but for the right to reply, unedited, in Maclean's. Maclean's refused. I think this clarifies the stakes on both sides. For Maclean's owner Ted Rogers, what counts is not his right to free expression but his right to distribute massively what he chooses (through those he hires) to express. It's the reverse of the freedom to sleep under a bridge, which is available to rich and poor alike. The other guys are free to publish magazines, too. But the complainers demanded the right to express themselves with the same reach that Ted Rogers provides to Mark Steyn. Call it the right to equal amplification of free expression. That doesn't sound unreasonable, but it turns a legal issue into an economic one. How you respond to that in a society where money controls media, I have no idea."

88.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 11:20 AM

"The musuems ought to be coming late to the party. They shouldn't be shaping careers"

If you can't see that they're at the part, enjoying it, and inviting the public, that's your problem. And the vast majority of the party isn't even being hosted on the government tab!

89.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 11:30 AM

Oh, so your fine with the idea of museums shaping artists careers. So what makes you (or yours) different from Halliburton?

90.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 11:31 AM

"you're," "artists'"

91.

Clem

June 6, 2008, 11:53 AM

Do you mean boards, administrators and curators?

92.

Franklin

June 6, 2008, 12:03 PM

Whomever you meant in #88.

93.

Chris Rywalt

June 6, 2008, 8:26 PM

Franklin sez:
The musuems ought to be coming late to the party. They shouldn't be shaping careers.

I agree here; I don't agree that we should abolish the NEA. In fact I think we should enlarge it. I think we should expand the program until I get some money from it at the very least.

No, seriously, I think we should expand the NEA. Why the hell not? It's only money. And, really, I mean that.

But I do agree that museums shouldn't be -- in some ideal world -- involved with living art. Museums have this problem, which is endemic to a lot of institutions in these sad latter days, of trying to be customer-oriented businesses without a) actually being for-profit businesses and b) knowing who their true customers are.

For a non-art-related example, take the Patent Office, which decided its customers were people (and by extension corporations) seeking patents. Thus the Patent Office streamlined application procedures, expanded patents to cover more and more areas, published books on how to get patents approved, and so on. And now the Patent Office is a disaster. Why? Because the people applying for patents are not the customers of the Patent Office. The customer is posterity -- future Americans, future mankind, whose prosperity and continued invention will rest on the patents of today.

Museums are very similar to this. They see their customers as being art collectors and visitors, but they're wrong. Their customer, again, is posterity, and for very much the same reason. Museums should not be whoring themselves out in an attempt to generate ticket sales -- we have Hollywood for that.

The current situation, it seems to me, is akin to Major League Baseball deciding that its customers are the people who catch and collect home run baseballs, and therefore changing the game so every batter gets one as often as possible. In the short term, lots of people will have a great time catching and collecting balls. In the long run, everyone will give up on the game because it sucks.

But then, America is the land of Band-Aids for arterial bleeding.

94.

Cedric C

June 6, 2008, 9:30 PM

Museums are just venues. They are movie theatres.

People want to see the major living artists and usually the good museums present them.

If they don't, then they are shitty museums (I do have problems with some the choices at Whitney), or they have a very special curatorial agenda ("we WILL present you the minimalist shit you all hate cos we like it").


When an artist is not getting represented, I cry it out. I use all connections I have. I'm pretty lucky usually. I've seen many retros of favorite artists in the past few years, I was only disappointed that the museums didn't have the means to bring all the good pieces, but that's another issue.



Seriously, people want to see art, and expect museums to be their critical guides. I don't see a problem. Art in museums is bought as critical investment as opposed to market investment. This is an important difference.
In the market you only need the art to be trendy for 5 years to get a gain from the resale. In museums you're supposed to consider if the art really has cultural signification because your aim is to cherish it forever.


I'd need to know at this point which artist you think are badly represented by museums and we can discuss each case separetely, because I can't see the harm in providing the sort of entertainment that museums can provide.


Corporates are not orderly intellectuals. They don't care about retros and survey, it's all about the NOW. Museums bring another perspective.

Cedric Caspesyan

95.

MC

June 7, 2008, 2:24 AM

"People want to see the major living artists and usually the good museums present them."

Major artists in good museums? Shouldn't that be good artists in major museums?
What do I care if the artist whose work I'm looking at is living or dead? Their personal life ain't got nothing to do with me...

96.

James

June 7, 2008, 2:55 AM

I may have to withdraw the majority of this post because I've picked through the NEA website and can't find anything addressing visual art except some education programs, and three museum websites I've looked at have no information whatsoever about their funding structure.

Well whoopie dee fuckin doo! Seems like that tiny tidbit of research is something you might have done before running of at the mouth.

Never you mind, this board has gone to hell, what a waste of my reading time.

97.

MC

June 7, 2008, 2:59 AM

Yeah, take that, Ron Paul!

KU-CIN-ICH! KU-CIN-ICH!...

98.

Franklin

June 7, 2008, 6:32 AM

Never you mind, this board has gone to hell, what a waste of my reading time.

I tend to think that the only bigger waste of time than blogging is commenting on how much a blog is wasting your time. Good luck finding your thing, James.

KU-CIN-ICH! KU-CIN-ICH!...

I knew I was in trouble this election cycle when my favorite candidates from each party were Paul and Kucinich. Kucinich was at one point considering Paul for his running mate, although the Paul campaign was rather cool to the idea. We'll get a vegan in office yet...

99.

opie

June 7, 2008, 7:44 AM

Doncha love it when some dork wastes a lot of time writing a message about how you're wasting his time?

100.

MC

June 7, 2008, 8:24 AM

Come on guys, James specifically said you were wasting his allotted reading time, which one can assume is brief, as compared to his commenting time, of which he clearly has lots to spare.

I try to find a little time for both whenever I return to my hotel room, as me and the wifey have Wi-Fi for a wee fee...

101.

Clem

June 7, 2008, 8:52 AM

MC,

Who's funding that RAM show that you helped organize for Peter Hide?

Franklin,

You point out the similarities between Haliburton and MOMA and we'll start talking. And please don't compare the alarm raised about Landry's compensation last year to Cheney's golden handshake!

102.

Franklin

June 7, 2008, 9:00 AM

Clem, see the first two paragraphs of #77. Chris did a fine job.

103.

opie

June 7, 2008, 9:25 AM

I was on a panel at a meeting of the Association of American Museum Directors with Harold Rosenberg many years ago.

One of the things Rosenberg said was "Museums should not mess with art history".

104.

MC

June 7, 2008, 9:29 AM

Gee, Clem, I dunno... you haven't been very honest with us, after all, so I'm not sure why I would share that kind of information with you. I mean, it's not really any of your business, is it?

All the important info on Peter Hide @ The RAM is publicly available at the link... click on the titles of the sculptures to access more photos...

105.

Clem

June 7, 2008, 9:37 AM

MC,

Apparently it is if I'm underwriting it with my tax dollars. Especially if your, or the museum's, relationship with a living artist influences that support. God forbid!

Franklin,

If you want to talk about cronyism, then you'd better bring up relevant and widespread examples. And let's remember that museum success does not automatically translate into economic success.

106.

Franklin

June 7, 2008, 9:43 AM

Sounds like from the astonishingly glib answer in #88, you already know of quite a few examples. Maybe you've perpetrated some yourself.

107.

MC

June 7, 2008, 9:53 AM

"Apparently it is if I'm underwriting it with my tax dollars. Especially if your, or the museum's, relationship with a living artist influences that support."

Huh? My relationship with Peter Hide influences what support? WTF are you talking about?

How about this question, Clem: do you work for an institution that gets the support of my tax dollars? I hope to any god that will listen that you don't, and would be inclined to vomit if you do.

108.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 10:09 AM

The more Clam comments, the more it seems virtually certain his/her position is very significantly tied to commercial, career or professional concerns he/she clearly does not want known here because it would give the game away, thus ending it.

If my suspicion has no factual basis, let Clam open up just a tad and say so. If s/he remains silent on the matter, I for one don't believe s/he deserves to be given any further consideration.

109.

MC

June 7, 2008, 11:04 AM

We'll all be serenaded by the crickets long before Clem comes clean, but I will add that, obviously, the Royal Alberta Museum gets Alberta govt. funding, and they directly contracted your friendly neighborhood North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop to produce a sculpture exhibit, which we do at absolutely no personal profit whatsoever (for the workshop, or the artist), as a public service to art lovers. After the NESW pays for the printed brochure, and throws the opening reception (both at our own out-of-pocket expense), I expect we'll come out of this in the hole a few hundred bucks...

The crane-truck operators that we hire to transport the works, on the other hand, make off like bandits, but of course, they went into the industrial trades, smart bastards...

110.

Chris Rywalt

June 7, 2008, 11:21 AM

I'm with you on the trades, MC. Aside from the fact that lately cranes have been collapsing in New York City like mayflies in, uh, May, I shoulda bin a crane operator. They're getting about US$100 per hour, with benefits, pensions, and annuities. I don't even know what an annuity is, and I went to college! It's only $100/hour for 35 hours a week, by the way -- anything over that, and any hours at all at night or during the weekends or holidays, is double time.

Even in U.S. dollars, that's good money. Damn good money. Damn hell ass good money.

111.

MC

June 7, 2008, 11:41 AM

I don't always agree with you Chris, but Damn hell ass if I don't think you're an effing funny SOB...

The last super-thread closed before I could post my wonderings, about whether your wet fart was better or worse than Clem's "morning runs"... in either case, I hear Imodium works...

112.

Clem

June 7, 2008, 1:29 PM

Franklin,

Should an institution that is overwhelmingly funded by the public purse, such as the RAM, put on a show for a living artist such as Peter Hide? What happens when you look at an artist such as MC and find that much of his career has been advanced by showing in publicly funded spaces and programs?

It's not much of a guess from what you've written that your answer will be no.

My answer is of course a resounding yes. You call it glib, I'll call it justified celebration of the arts community.

113.

Chris Rywalt

June 7, 2008, 1:31 PM

Hey, Jack, do you wear boxers or briefs? Because I can't take you seriously until you open up just that much.

Only kidding. I'm just yankin' your chain.

114.

Clem

June 7, 2008, 1:32 PM

MC,

I'm not using your example because I'm critical of it. It would actually be nice to see NESW get public funding, but part of that is of course organizing yourselves in a different way than you have to date.

115.

MC

June 7, 2008, 2:09 PM

"What happens when you look at an artist such as MC and find that much of his career has been advanced by showing in publicly funded spaces and programs?"

How has my career been "advanced" in your opinion, Clem? I'm pretty much where I started, as far as I can tell. Of course, Canada is quite different from the States...

"It would actually be nice to see NESW get public funding, but part of that is of course organizing yourselves in a different way than you have to date."

The NESW has received public funding, in the form of individual artist project grants, in previous years, and yes, it is nice, when it happens...

G'night, all...

116.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 2:11 PM

Chris, I'm sure you realize my choice of underwear is not relevant to what I do or say here. That's clearly not the sort of information I'm interested in, nor is it the sort of information I believe Clam is hiding (obviously for a reason). A lot of chain-yanking is going on, all right, but you're not the problem.

117.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 2:22 PM

And MC, while you didn't owe Clam one iota of explanation or disclosure about the Hide show, since Clam has been nothing but covert and evasive about its own affairs, you still came clean, so to speak, because you had nothing to hide (no pun intended). If Clam similarly has nothing worth hiding, why is it so resolutely silent on the matter? What's the problem, Clam?

118.

Chris Rywalt

June 7, 2008, 2:22 PM

Of course your choice of underwear's important when you get your knickers in a twist!

119.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 2:24 PM

Chris, I expect you mean no harm, but don't push it.

120.

Chris Rywalt

June 7, 2008, 2:46 PM

Jack, I'm really only kidding around. No offense at all intended.

121.

Clem

June 7, 2008, 3:32 PM

Wait, Jack's a lady?

MC,

Point taken, it is your career. I had just noticed that a lot of your shows are at institutions that received public funding; the RAM, AGA, and the U of A, stood out in particular. Have the exhibitions not contributed to your visibility in the artistic community?

Your involvement and evident excitement about the Hide show seem to reflect a difference of opinion from Franklin's that's all.

Regarding NESW funding, I do think that you and Ahab (and any other partners) should keep organizing and applying for operational funding. It's a matter of organizing yourself as a non-profit and formalizing some things about how the gallery functions. It is your call whether this is a route you want to pursue of course, and I'm sure there are some benefits to running it the way you do. Being accountable mostly to yourselves must be nice in a lot of respects!

Even if I'm not completely interested in your work, I'm all for continued growth and exhibition of sculpture in Edmonton. It's your unconstructive yapping that shouldn't receive additional funding!

122.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 5:49 PM

"Unconstructive yapping," Clammy? Now, that's rich. I've yet to find anything you've said here of any use whatsoever, not even the merest entertainment value--but you know how ladies are...impossible to please. Very lame humor, by the way.

And no, you're not diverting attention from your increasingly suspect nature--unless, of course, you're not a real person at all, but only a particularly bad example of conceptual art.

123.

Franklin

June 7, 2008, 6:51 PM

You call it glib, I'll call it justified celebration of the arts community.

I still have outstanding concerns expressed in #82 that you haven't come close to addressing. But it works for you, and that's the important thing, right? Ptth.

124.

Jack

June 7, 2008, 7:39 PM

Now Franklin, you mustn't take what Clam says at face value (especially since Clam has neither face nor value), but rather interpret what it is trying to communicate. After all, you wouldn't Clammy to think you're unsophisticated, would you?

"I'll call it justified celebration of the arts community."

Isn't that a lovely sentiment? So positive, so confident, so supportive and, well, so correct. Serious problems, you say? Rampant bullshit, however pricey? Decadence? Corruption? Cynical opportunism? Nonsense. Nothing of the sort. Everyone and everything is just fine. It's the best of all possible worlds (or close enough). It's Clam's world, and welcome to it. Where every day is one big party, because being part of the system means never having to call it, or tell it, like it is.

125.

Franklin

June 7, 2008, 7:44 PM

Right, and "if you can't see that they're at the part[y], enjoying it, and inviting the public, that's your problem." I hadn't realized that Marie Antionette had gone into arts administration.

126.

Cedric Caspesyan

June 7, 2008, 8:17 PM

MC:


About museums supposed to show good artists versus major artists.

Ok, you're kidding me. Major is supposed to integrate "good" artists, but it can also mean perseverant. A lesser artist can become major if the persevere where the "good" artist only make 5 good works and disappeared. Being "good" is not enough. You need to be perseverant and pertinent. Pertinent is subject to debates all the time. Taste and trends do shift.


At this point, I find it preferable that people name the artists that they think got major museum representation while didn't deserve it. Because you know, with me it will happen that I think that, but I do not pretend that my tastes govern the world, and accept that every now and them other people find marvellous someone who I think is
doing very ordinary work.

In general, some of the artists I like are represented,
some are not and I criticize a lot (I write to museums, honey) and they finally receive representation. Others never receive the representation, but that is why I'm considering curating them (my poor writting skills (I'm foreign) prevents me from doing that).


Sometimes artists are merely skilled but totally lack pertinence. They are museums that are interested in skill more than pertinence though.

Sometimes the artists are killing their career themselves.


But I don't see the situation in museums being half as hellish or unfair as described here. Even the Met has started commissioning artists to make art at museum that is not object-oriented. My requirement is that there should be a stage for all types of arts.


Cedric

127.

Chris Rywalt

June 7, 2008, 8:28 PM

Now I'm totally confused regarding everyone's gender.

128.

John

June 7, 2008, 11:07 PM

I haven't read the blog in a couple of days and quite surprised and hopeful that this subject has come up. I've been a closet libertarian/Republican for so long surrounded by the presumed art world and their cliche, emotional, hippie crap, that drives me nuts. Thanks Franklin at the expert job of explaining your points, but I have found that the emotions in those that are the status quo liberal/socialist will not let them be objective, but it has been fun seeing you try. Usually those that are losing arguments turn to other points without accepting or acknowledging the new knowledge shown. Was it Nietzche that said something about how hard life would be if you accept truth as a way to live? You'd have to be willing to shed old ways of seeing for truth and that is painful. At least the dialogue is there. So that is good. Thanks

129.

MC

June 8, 2008, 1:13 AM

"It's your unconstructive yapping that shouldn't receive additional funding!"

I'm not sure what "yapping" you're referring to, Clem.... Care to elaborate? Do you mean the heartfelt communications I offer on Studiosavant? But, that's my ART! I thought you were in favour of ART receiving funding? Or, would you withhold funding for ART you don't like?

Tsk, tsk...

130.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 6:52 AM

Others never receive the representation, but that is why I'm considering curating them (my poor writting skills (I'm foreign) prevents me from doing that).

I reread the above this morning, and what a shame that people think that curating has become a subset of writing. Cedric, curating is mostly having a good eye and a lot of elbow grease. Find the art, set up the space, send out the invitations, and pay somebody else to write the damn essay.

131.

opie

June 8, 2008, 7:53 AM

7$B? comes straight from the Latin, meaning "person in charge" but not necessarily the ultimate boss - like an executive vice president, or a provost at a university, or a curate in a church or parish.

In museums a curator takes care of the collection or organizes an exhibition, and may or may not write a catalog. It does not necessitate writing anything, except maybe memos.

132.

John

June 8, 2008, 8:12 AM

The John in #128 is not me. (Not that I'm the only person in the world with the name of "John".) John Link

133.

Clem

June 8, 2008, 8:45 AM

Second Requests:

Franklin,

"Should an institution that is overwhelmingly funded by the public purse, such as the RAM, put on a show for a living artist such as Peter Hide? What happens when you look at an artist such as MC and find that much of his career has been advanced by showing in publicly funded spaces and programs?"

MC,

"Have the exhibitions not contributed to your visibility [and standing] in the artistic community?"

Now,

RE: "the party", I only took up that turn because you said museums should be late to it, Franklin. And your Antoinette comment had any seriousness, you obviously haven't been to most publicly funded art spaces.

RE: Exclusion & underwriting. Does anything that effects us, over which we don't have direct control, constitute exclusion? Do you honestly think that most people want to decide how the arts are funded, or museums are curated? "Curate" also derives from guardianship, part of which is not only preserving, but looking to the future.

If you want to ask specific questions or look at specific examples, then do so.

MC,

If complaining about funders without look at your options and not giving members of the local arts community a fair shake are aspects of your "art", then I am in a serious pickle. Good thing we're talking about visual art though. Wouldn't want any unwarranted "boundary crossing", would we?

John Link,

I'll admit to being kind of glad that wasn't you!

134.

opie

June 8, 2008, 9:01 AM

That "7$B?" in #131 was written as "Curator".

I don't know how that happened.

135.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 9:21 AM

Clem, you answered that question for yourself in a manner that made the first question look rhetorical: "It's not much of a guess from what you've written that your answer will be no." And while I commend the good taste of those who have supported MC, that doesn't establish whether the government should involve itself in MC's career. I think it should neither underwrite him nor censor him, and both have occurred. The fact that you refer to details his professional life while hiding your own makes me feel less than eager to answer your repeated calls for specifics. The concerns in #82 remain unanswered.

136.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 10:01 AM

And your Antoinette comment had any seriousness, you obviously haven't been to most publicly funded art spaces.

You seem to be saying that because things are the way they are, they should be the way they are. Talk about is/ought.

Does anything that effects us, over which we don't have direct control, constitute exclusion?

No. Exclusion is a byproduct of selection. But if you ask everyone to underwrite a selection that may not include them, you have a problem.

Do you honestly think that most people want to decide how the arts are funded, or museums are curated?

No, which is why the few people who do ought to establish their own entities and act on their own behalf.

"Curate" also derives from guardianship, part of which is not only preserving, but looking to the future.

Again, why should people underwrite their exclusion from cultural patrimony?

137.

Jack

June 8, 2008, 12:35 PM

Re #127, Chris, please avoid g----r issues, otherwise we'll only be able to appease Oriane by having you neutered, or at least treated with estrogen shots. I have a feeling your wife might not like that, even if it makes you a much better shopping companion. Besides, if we don't get some non-male humans on board, Artblog will never get that damn NEA development grant, so try to keep your nose clean.

138.

MC

June 8, 2008, 2:24 PM

""Have the exhibitions not contributed to your visibility [and standing] in the artistic community?""

Are you seriously asking me if, when my work is exhibited, it contributes to the visibility of my work? Talk about poor thinking skills. Let me put this clearly for you, Clem. I make art. I can then offer that art, as content, to an exhibition venue. They may, or may not, pay me a small fee for that content, for which they undoubtedly get (vastly more) public (and often private) funding to show. SO, to put it a better way, exhibiting my work has contributed to various venues' standing within the art community, at least as much, but likely more, than they have contributed to mine. My standing is dependent on MY work, but without the art, there IS no gallery to speak of. Their standing is built on the backs of lowly artists like me.

"If complaining about funders without look at your options and not giving members of the local arts community a fair shake are aspects of your "art", then I am in a serious pickle."

My criticism of funders IS one of my options, Clem. Does every artist have to double as an administrator, in your mind? I wonder, am I allowed to have political opinions without necessarily running for office myself? You're not simply in a pickle, Clem: from your "blogworthy" commentary, I think you might actually BE a pickle.

And, pray tell, what "members of the local arts community" have I not given "a fair shake" to (specific examples would be nice, smarm smarm)? I could mention a few that it could be fairly said need a good hard shake, indeed...

I'd point out the hundred or so requests for disclosure that have been asked of you, now, but really, you've been a coward since day one of these pointless exchanges, and unless I miss my guess, you ain't getting any braver...

139.

Clem

June 8, 2008, 2:59 PM

MC,

"My standing is dependent on MY work, but without the art, there IS no gallery to speak of"

Great, so it doesn't matter if living artists are promoted in publicly funded spaces. Their careers are due to their work, not simply their selection. Franklin's worrying over nothing.

I've never implied that criticism isn't an option. I've argued that responsible criticism, which involves investigating your claims and considering your biases, is preferable.
Look at your nasty call-out in the last thread and tell me how that constitutes informed criticism.

Franklin,

My criticism of your Antoinette remark was largely a reflection of what I've seen in most public art galleries and institutions in Canada and abroad. Luxury doesn't fit into the equation all that often.

Of course there is room for improvement. But there always is. I'm just not in such a downcast mood about the state of the art world as many of you seem to be.

Again, regarding exclusion: A lot of people complain about pot-holes, but this doesn't necessarily mean they want anything to do with managing or performing road maintenance. Does their lack of involvement or complaining constitute exclusion? Their complaints don't have to do with alienation, but the wish that things were done better. These are two very different things.

Besides, how is the art market any more accessible to the general public? Even if you can say where you money goes, does this mean that most people would have any better chance of seeing, let alone owning quality art (and let's even use your definition thereof.

140.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 3:50 PM

My criticism of your Antoinette remark was largely a reflection of what I've seen in most public art galleries and institutions in Canada and abroad. Luxury doesn't fit into the equation all that often.

Luxury? The source of the remark was the Let Them Eat Cake response in #88. Looks like yours was the only head it went over.

Of course there is room for improvement.

There's no point in doing something that's fundamentally wrong more equitably.

Again, regarding exclusion: A lot of people complain about pot-holes, but this doesn't necessarily mean they want anything to do with managing or performing road maintenance. Does their lack of involvement or complaining constitute exclusion? Their complaints don't have to do with alienation, but the wish that things were done better. These are two very different things.

This may be the least parallel example of anything I've ever seen. Try it this way: A pothole forms in your street. But the city can't fix all potholes - there are just too many. So a Curator of Streets comes out and looks to see if your street is significant, progressive, and boundary-pushing, and if not, you don't get your pothole filled. Instead, your tax money goes to pay for fixes on other peoples' streets. And when you say that something's not right about that, you're told that Street Curators are qualified individuals who are carefully vetted by other Street Curators and have to answer to their fellow Street Curators.

Besides, how is the art market any more accessible to the general public?

The general public doesn't underwrite the art market.

141.

opie

June 8, 2008, 4:03 PM

One thing I would certainly not do with our friend Clem, and that is go TARGET SHOOTING. Not without a bullet proof vest.

142.

Chris Rywalt

June 8, 2008, 4:39 PM

Jack sez:
I have a feeling your wife might not like that, even if it makes you a much better shopping companion. Besides, if we don't get some non-male humans on board, Artblog will never get that damn NEA development grant, so try to keep your nose clean.

My nose it's clean, what's dirty is my....

Oh, wait, I get it.

Anyway, my wife's the one with the balls in the family, so whatever happens to mine is unimportant.

143.

Julie

June 8, 2008, 4:47 PM

I thought we could try something different for a change.

Let's talk about oral sex.

144.

Chris Rywalt

June 8, 2008, 4:54 PM

Aw, no boobies.

Sorry I forgot to close my tag, Franklin.

145.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 5:05 PM

Always preview, Chris.

Julie, there are other blogs for which that would be a fine topic.

146.

Chris Rywalt

June 8, 2008, 6:39 PM

Absolutely! Like this one!

147.

Clem

June 8, 2008, 9:07 PM

Obviously you jerks have never bothered to report a pot-hole. Of course it's easier to say scrap the whole system and vote libertarian!

Maybe it's enough to say that publicly funded art is here to stay and that if you've got a particular "ought" to push, then make the effort to do so. Be that doing your own thing or working alongside funders and institutions to promote art and ideas that you support.

Just like you fumbled on your comments about the NEA, I'm pretty sure you're not discussing specific examples because you haven't bothered to substantiate your critique of any of the institutions we've discussed. Better just to gesture wildly at how fundamentally wrong they are.

148.

Franklin

June 8, 2008, 9:35 PM

Was #82 wild gesticulation of some kind? It looks measured to me, but I guess it's easier to mischaracterize the problem than address it rationally.

I'm pretty sure you're not discussing specific examples because you haven't bothered to substantiate your critique of any of the institutions we've discussed.

I'm not citing details because the specifics of my difficulties with particular institutions and their lackeys do not affect my points. Again, here come the demands for specifics from the pseudonymous apologist for the state.

For the record, the Constitution makes roads the responsibility of government.

149.

MC

June 9, 2008, 1:14 AM

"I've never implied that criticism isn't an option. I've argued that responsible criticism, which involves investigating your claims and considering your biases, is preferable.
Look at your nasty call-out in the last thread and tell me how that constitutes informed criticism. "


Oh, that is TOO rich! Please, be more specific: WHAT NASTY CALL OUT? Who did I call out, and what did I call them out for, and what makes you think it's not "informed"?

If you're referring to my criticisms of Whitelaw and Fung, then you just pointed out my charge on them: irresponsible criticism, poor investigation of claims, and oblivious to their own credibility-destroying bias, not to mention their pompous, unmitigated ignorance. In the my art community, there is widespread agreement on this, and if you can't see it, it is likely because you are at least as guilty and just plain stupid as they are (and believe me, you parade your guilt and stupidity here as if it were a float for Macy's, so your agreement or understanding of any of this is not required).

150.

MC

June 9, 2008, 2:12 AM

An intellectual Kamikaze,
as angry as Ilie Năstase,
Clem crashes and burns,
L'oeuf's all that (s)he earns,
but persistent! (just like the Stasi).

151.

craigfrancis

June 9, 2008, 2:16 AM

You're drunk.

152.

Jack

June 9, 2008, 5:43 AM

You know, Clam, for you to call anybody a jerk is like the Pope saying somebody's too Catholic. I mean, you can still do it, but it rings totally hollow and, frankly, it looks really weak. Maybe you should hang out with your own kind and leave us "jerks" to our own devices. As I recall the Good Witch saying to the Bad Witch in the Wizard of Oz, you have no power here.

153.

opie

June 9, 2008, 6:19 AM

Clem tosses out "jerk"
from where his own demons lurk
His chaotic thought
Can't do what it ought
But it is certainly making us work

154.

Jack

June 9, 2008, 8:13 AM

I wouldn't call it making us work, OP. It's more like making us nauseous.

155.

MC

June 9, 2008, 8:18 AM

Well, just like art is a kind of communication, retroperistalsis is a kind of work, I suppose...

156.

opie

June 9, 2008, 8:40 AM

Good. Now we have a first name for our resident gremlin, the one Franklin brought up (so to speak) a few threads back.

Retroperistalsis Blorck.

157.

Julie

June 9, 2008, 8:55 AM

Moving right along.

What we have here is a circle jerk.

158.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 8:59 AM

You seem to have something on your mind, Julie...

159.

Alex Treblorck

June 9, 2008, 8:59 AM

Sorry, Julie, you must phrase your answer in the form of a limerick.

160.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 9:05 AM

Regarding your constitutional argument, which is a nice is/ought afterall, here's a note from the founders:

"To insert essential principles only; lest the operations of government should be clogged by rendering those provisions permanent and unalterable, which ought to be accommodated to times and events"

MC,

If you hold up your arts coverage and comment to Amy Fung's, the difference is plain to see and doesn't go in your favour. Granted, she doesn't include Amazon reviews or letters to the editor amongst her list of publications...

161.

MC

June 9, 2008, 9:08 AM

So sez you, Clem, but you are hardly an expert in art, of course, so you clearly don't know any better... my condolences.

162.

MC

June 9, 2008, 9:13 AM

It's weird how obsessed you are with my "publications", Clem. I'll stand by anything I write, but you just want to judge the book by its cover... you reek of desperation and illogic. This is just one more reason why so many people find you intellectually and ethically repugnant.

163.

MC

June 9, 2008, 9:18 AM

Oh, wait, now I see... you think the purpose of a CV is to IMPRESS people, never mind the real content... Whereas I am simply offering a list of my writings that are available, no matter the location, for people to read. Why not deal with the substance of what I wrote, instead of delving into your ridiculous fallacies... oh, wait, now I remember... you are unable to form an actual argument.

It's no wonder you are the laughing stock you are...

164.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 9:28 AM

I'm sure Clem was trying to communicate something to me in #160. Not sure what...

165.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 9:41 AM

Ladies & gentlemen, some of the "real content":

"Nice to read a REAL art review [Art, “Head in the Clouds,” published April 6]. Difficult to find in this day and age. Keep up the good work"

166.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 9:42 AM

More substantive analysis going on at Amazon too:

"The last part of this book, the "previously unpublished debate with Clement Greenberg" is the most valuable, as it presents Greenberg in his own words. De Duve cannot keep up in this debate, and must be corrected on his misinterpretations and misunderstandings numerous times. Unfortunately, de Duve is all alone in the first part of the book, so his malformed thoughts on Greenberg's ideas do not receive the necessary corrective. The book is, however, useful to any close readers of Greenberg (de Duve himself admits that he is not among the closest of readers) as it clearly demonstrates the failures of logic that seem endemic to Clem's critics. Sit back and watch the intellectual breakdown in action... a little funny, but mostly frustrating"

167.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 9:44 AM

And where can we see some of your work, "Clem"?

168.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 9:46 AM

Franklin,

I was pretty sure that you could take my quote as a follow-up to this:

"For the record, the Constitution makes roads the responsibility of government"

And it's post-routes by the way...

169.

Julie

June 9, 2008, 9:53 AM

I like Greenberg.

He was an art pimp.

And good at it too.

170.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 10:11 AM

It's "post roads," actually. I see that no distortion is too small for you, Clem.

171.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 10:16 AM

You distorted things when you said government was responsible for roads.

172.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 10:25 AM

If that's true, then you distorted things when you said they were responsible for routes. Still awaiting an answer to #167 among much else.

173.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 10:34 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_roads

"post routes" is much closer to "post roads" than are roads in general.

Re: 167

Since when did my writing or CV become relevant to criticism of MC's? If you want to explain how these excerpts are in fact convincing arguments, by all means do!

Second Request:

Particular governmental responsibilities were never meant to be fixed, but rather responsive to particular contexts. Why is art's funding unconstitutional? What principle or spirit does it contravene?

174.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 11:12 AM

"post routes" is much closer to "post roads" than are roads in general.

Then why change it to "post-routes"? Were the original words unhelpful to you somehow?

Since when did my writing or CV become relevant to criticism of MC's?

When you started excerpting his from behind your pseudonym and failed to answer too many legitimate points, such as those in #82.

Particular governmental responsibilities were never meant to be fixed, but rather responsive to particular contexts. Why is art's funding unconstitutional? What principle or spirit does it contravene?

Minarchism. The founders built in every conceivable limit to federal power because that was is greatest guarantee of liberty. The people who understood this best realized that spending the public's money was among the most insidious insults to liberty.

175.

opie

June 9, 2008, 11:31 AM

Julie, you do seem to have something in mind, as Franklin says. However, it is understood around here that if you throw out some epithet or disparaging remark, like "circle jerk" or "art pimp", that you back it up with reasonable argument.

MC I stick every little thing on my CV too, just as a matter of record. It only makes sense. If I want impress someone I edit it for whatever the purpose is.

176.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 12:07 PM

"Then why change it to "post-routes"? Were the original words unhelpful to you somehow?"

It was a mistake. Were the original words unhelpful to you?

Regarding the excerpts, MC asked for specific examples. They were easy enough to find.

"and failed to answer too many legitimate points, such as those in #82"

I've answered your points. I don't agree that delegation of authority translates into exclusion. If you want to ask specific questions, then do so.

"The founders built in every conceivable limit to federal power because that was is greatest guarantee of liberty. The people who understood this best realized that spending the public's money was among the most insidious insults to liberty"

You're making an interpretation based on your particular ideology. So am I. We disagree on what promoting "general welfare" can be taken to mean. And apparently also the reasons that this wasn't something that was concretely defined. You also seemed to have missed also how central the collection and spending of taxes is to the document. I'm not arguing against responsible spending, but the assertion that government spending on the arts is necessarily irresponsible and excludes public interests.

177.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 12:09 PM

It's also important to realize that many of the limitations to federal power have to do with concessions to state power, not necessarily individual rights.

178.

Hovig

June 9, 2008, 12:28 PM

Clem - Yes. "Concessions to state power" returns us to the topic of competition and markets, not to mention greater responsiveness to local voters. Thirteen competing governmental bodies -- not to mention 50 -- have a better shot at developing a decent set of best practices through local evolution than a monopolistic-monopsonistic one does through central planning.

179.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 12:32 PM

Agreed. That's why in Canada, public funding isn't primarily federal, but also provincial and local. I don't know stateside, but if you look at an organization like MOMA, it's NEA funding is in a lower category than from NYC or NY State.

180.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 12:43 PM

Hovig, respecting our seeming differences, I think we also have to focus on where the funds are actually spent. Isn't it generally at a local level, by individuals in specific communities, who are in turn accountable to those communities? I'm not saying that these are perfect relationships by a longshot, but if I took you up on your position that individuals know best how to spend their money and time, it wouldn't be tough to could come up with a slew of counter-examples.

181.

Hovig

June 9, 2008, 1:40 PM

Clem, I have no answer for you. I don't know about arts funding in particular. I can only speak about economic theory in general, as I (a layman) happen to understand and prefer it. But I'll kick the ball back, just for giggles.

I would never say individuals know "best." I think everyone in the world is equally imperfect. I would only say that a large mass of individuals with interests closely aligned with specific outcomes can produce "better" outcomes over time than a small group of government employees whose interests are more political than practical.

Also, nine out of every 10 ventures in the real world is bound to fail. The secret to success is to "fail faster." Government never fails -- it's self-perpetuating -- and it's never fast.

That said, I don't have a big problem with the NEA as described above. Then again my main livelihood is not in the arts, so maybe I'm not one to speak. So, coming back to generalities, if mistakes are going to be made, let them occur among the people, not among the central planners.

My aversion to central planning is as strong when the planners are economists as when they are theists. I don't believe in the intelligent design of an economy any more than I would of any given species. (Tho on this point you must admit that the ideological theists at least have a better lottery ticket for the existence of a Perfect Planner than the ideological governmentalists do).

182.

MC

June 9, 2008, 2:16 PM

My apologies... You are not merely a moron, Clem: it seems you are truly a lunatic. When did I ever claim my one-paragraph review of M. de Duve's Greenberg book, or my one-sentence congratulatory note for a Miami SunPost review by Mr. Einspruch, was anything other than a brief review, and a congratulatory note? Just like Opie, I include these on my CV as a matter of record, but, speaking for myself, I'm not worried about editing my CV to impress anyone (least of all someone as painfully retarded as yourself). I'm not looking for a new job that might depend on my writing experience: I'm an artist, remember?

But, fair's fair: what are you, Clem? A circus geek? A doorstop? I thought you might have been an academic, but, really, can you honestly imagine a respectable University professor confronting their critics in such a incompetent and juvenile manner? I mean, you've got to admit, that would be despicable, wouldn't it?

And in any event, how on earth are either of those excerpts you selected examples of me "not giving members of the local arts community a fair shake", you colossal buffoon? Are you this careless in real life, or do you just do this "Clem the Typing Potato" act for us here on the blog?

Next you'll start poking fun of my sunglasses again, presumably because they aren't a "substantive argument"? I can't wait... Who knows, maybe you'll try a different tack, and attack my haircut as "illogical"...

At least in your previous comment, you carefully chose to half-heartedly try to defend Amy Fung, and not the indefensibly witless Anne Whitelaw, who could not even defend her own public thesis...

But seriously, it's time for some disclosure from you: did you suffer some sort of maternally induced in-utero coathanger wound to the brain that causes your mental malfunctioning, or, wait, let me guess, is this all just personal, since I criticized you somehow in real life, and now you've turned into some kind of freaky vengeful stalker?

First request...

183.

Chris Rywalt

June 9, 2008, 2:25 PM

Your haircut really is illogical. Not that I've seen it, but I'm extrapolating from your Amazon.com reviews.

In case you were wondering about my credentials, I have an MS in Applied Tonsorial Extrapolation from the University of Arizona (Online).

184.

MC

June 9, 2008, 2:37 PM

Well, Chris, since I have nothing to hide, let me elaborate: on the NESW website, there is THIS picture of me, taken a few years back at my friend's lake cabin. As you can see, it features both my highly-relevant sunglasses and haircut from that period. Among Clem's first "substantive arguments" offered on our blog was to inexplicably refer to the glasses as "sunjammers", and mention something about how (s)he didn't like them. This, of course, was after deploying an earlier line of argument, that asserted that a sculpture of Ahab's, that was recently purchased by our University Hospital, was unfit to be written about in a local paper, for some unknown and unstated reason... Needless to say, it has been a tragic comedy of errors ever since. Honestly, I'm amazed Clem has the stamina to keep this self-destruction up.... blorck.

185.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 2:42 PM

It was a mistake. Were the original words unhelpful to you?

No, they weren't.

If you want to ask specific questions, then do so.

What do you do, and who do you work for?

186.

MC

June 9, 2008, 2:43 PM

Oh, and, just so nobody accuses me of being vain (posting a link to a picture of myself, after all!), here's a picture of the thoroughly ridiculed Anne Whitelaw, in the interest of balance, of course...
(sorry, I couldn't find one of Amy Fung.)

187.

Chris Rywalt

June 9, 2008, 2:52 PM

Both you and Anne look pretty hot. Whew! We should do a Hot or Not Art Edition.

Actually, I think I did see a picture of you, MC. Something with a former Prime Minister or Head of Goose Hatchery or some other high Canadian office. I guess that invalidates my Haircut Extrapolation. Damn.

In case anyone wasn't sure, I have nothing useful to add to this conversation.

188.

MC

June 9, 2008, 2:55 PM

I'm with you Chris... I used up everything relevant I had to say in my Dennis Kucinich chant, earlier, so I'm just entertaining myself by breaking Clem's balls... call me nasty, but I do get a kick out of it. They do kind of bring it on themselves...

G'night, all.

189.

opie

June 9, 2008, 3:11 PM

So, you don't care much for Clem, is that what I'm hearing, MC?

190.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 3:28 PM

Let me refer you to what you wrote, MC;

"I am simply offering a list of my writings that are available, no matter the location, for people to read. Why not deal with the substance of what I wrote"

So I did, by finding two examples completely lacking in substance.

I've been clear that I think a lot of the writing on your blog is haphazard, unresearched, and unnecessarily vitriolic. And I'll keeping point it out as I see it.

However, this is a distraction from the theme of the tread, and I am guilty of throwing out some of these unrelated comments. So maybe it's best to stop addressing it here.

Franklin,

Regarding my anonymity, that is my choice. And I think I've made it pretty clear what my biases and politics are when it comes to the art world. Any of you calling me cowardly doesn't do much to address what I've written. Again, look at your own guidelines.

Hovig,

"I would only say that a large mass of individuals with interests closely aligned with specific outcomes can produce "better" outcomes over time than a small group of government employees whose interests are more political than practical"

I guess we have quite different perspectives when looking at publicly-funded art. Sure, there are bureaucrats whose motives and interests seem questionable to me. But I also find strong advocates for the arts-- people who show amazing amounts of vision, skill, and effort. Just like many artists themselves, a lot of arts admin. people work tirelessly for unenviable financial gain. In my experience, a lot of them aren't doing it because they're in enviable positions, but because they care about how their work and decisions will effect the arts community. This may read a little too rosy, but I'm always surprised when other's don't see the same thing when they become involved with arts organizations. Even if we can't agree on matters of taste, I'd like to think that we can agree that hard-work and thoughtful-judgment are, more often than not, at play.

What outcomes do you, or anyone else here, feel are better served by private galleries and sale of contemporary work?

191.

Cedric C

June 9, 2008, 4:21 PM

I'm stealing the terminology "colossal buffoon" from MC for the title of an artwork.



I'm not sure how the discussion went into criticizing the quality of people's commentaries but I'll love to see this conversation follow on the average Youtube comment section
(you know where the people say "fag die!", "fuck you cunt", etc..).


Cedric

192.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 5:19 PM

Regarding my anonymity, that is my choice. And I think I've made it pretty clear what my biases and politics are when it comes to the art world. Any of you calling me cowardly doesn't do much to address what I've written. Again, look at your own guidelines.

Oh, it won't do to become a stickler for my guidelines only when it suits you. You've been discussing my motives and others' practically since you started participating on this blog - it's hard to get you not to. That's not addressing the writing either. You're right, anonymity is your choice. And while people occasionally have good reasons to hide their identities, I feel rather certain that you don't. I think you're someone whose salary depends on his not understanding the issues under discussion, to paraphrase Sinclair. If it's not addressing your writing to call you a coward, let's say instead that your writings lack the conviction and intellectual honesty of someone willing to sign his name on them. You think about that as you avail yourself of this forum I provide for you.

193.

Chris Rywalt

June 9, 2008, 5:30 PM

Clem sez:
What outcomes do you, or anyone else here, feel are better served by private galleries and sale of contemporary work?

From what I've been reading, it seems the trouble is not that private galleries are any better for the art world, but at least taxpayers aren't paying for them. So it's not a question of "Wouldn't art in America be better if the government stayed out of it?" as much as it's "Wouldn't it cost me slightly less in taxes if the government stayed out of art?"

Remember, your portion of the NEA's budget is good for about a microgram of cheap oil paint! Well, actually, Clem, yours is good for nothing, since I think you're Canadian.

My thinking is, no matter if it's "private" or not, we the people pay for it. One way or another, we pay for it.

Also, we have all agreed that MC should stop suckling at the teat of the body politic. And should get a decent haircut. In fact I think we should start a fund for him.

After that we can all pitch in and buy Franklin an RV so he can walk the Earth, like Caine. But in style.

194.

Julie

June 9, 2008, 5:40 PM

Borrrrrrrrring, borrrrrrrrring, buh buh borrring

borrring, borrring, borrring

I thought this was an ART BLOG

but noooo, it's just a bitch, bitch, bitch session

see ya later boyz

195.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 5:47 PM

Bye, Julie! Good luck finding someone to talk about oral sex with you.

196.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 5:48 PM

Dude, I have an RV! But my kung fu is not strong.

197.

Jack

June 9, 2008, 6:25 PM

You see, Clam, there's a very sizeable difference between promoting or defending something purely on principle, or something one is not part of or directly affected by, and being a spokesperson-apologist for a system one belongs to, is beholden to, and/or is substantially invested in.

You are either in the former or the latter category, and unless you at least say which one, you do not deserve any serious consideration. If, as I strongly suspect, you're in the latter, which you have yet to deny, everything you've said here is clearly colored, not to say compromised and tainted, by vested interests, and I expect that's why you won't come clean.

In addition, if I'm right about your category, your refusal to acknowledge it implies you're ready to evade, cover up, obfuscate or misrepresent, even if by omission, to keep playing a game. I find that highly objectionable, to put it charitably.

You can, of course, continue to clam up and keep up the obnoxious trolling, which I'm amazed Franklin continues to allow. I would not, just as I would not play troll in a clearly incompatible blog. Whatever my opinion might be of such a blog, its crowd has the right to its own forum, and it is neither my place nor business to intrude and disrupt their space.

In any event, if you stick to your current tack, you will only become ever more offensive and provoke ever more unfavorable replies--and don't even think of complaining when you get precisely what you ask for and knew to expect.

198.

Chris Rywalt

June 9, 2008, 6:31 PM

More than once, in reply to Clem, I've written something which Franklin later tagged as "excellent" or "just right" or "bullseye!" Which, to me, makes all of Clem's trolling worthwhile.

199.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 8:07 PM

Franklin,

Question my honesty and ethics all you like, but you're still making an awful case against publicly funded art. You haven't given a single worthwhile example of misuse, or of broad taxpayer concern. Talk about principles until you're blue in the face, but involving yourselves in politics is what actually makes thing happen and change. Sounding off on the NEA actually doing any research is proof of this. Pretty much every complaint you make speaks to your isolation from most of the contemporary art world in matters of taste and community. From an admitted disance, your exclusion seems self-imposed. Admittedly there's a nice cadre here to agree with you, but most of this wouldn't fly in the broader art community, just like your general politics don't.

Chris,

If my tax dollars go into arts programming and education that are geared towards members of the public, quite distinct from the marketplace, then I'm not going to call the whole system into question. I'd rather focus on seeing projects that I think are worthwhile succeed and holding funders accountable for their decisions.

200.

200

June 9, 2008, 8:18 PM

Sounding off on the NEA [without] actually doing any research is proof of this. Pretty much every complaint you make speaks to your isolation from most of the contemporary art world in matters of taste and community.

Yeh baby!

201.

4OP

June 9, 2008, 9:22 PM

op,

check this out, "Anticipating the Future to ‘See’ the Present" (NYT, no TA)

202.

Retroperistalsis Blorck

June 9, 2008, 9:46 PM

yeck, baby.

203.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 9:50 PM

Question my honesty and ethics all you like...

Good idea.

...but you're still making an awful case against publicly funded art. You haven't given a single worthwhile example of misuse...

I'm still waiting to hear about how all the accountability demanded of the professionals involved squares with what happened to the NEA as described by Munson.

...or of broad taxpayer concern.

I would characterize unconstitutionality as a broad taxpayer concern.

Talk about principles until you're blue in the face...

One of us has to have some.

...but involving yourselves in politics is what actually makes thing happen and change.

I study, I write, and I vote.

Sounding off on the NEA actually doing any research is proof of this.

Um. What is proof of what?

Pretty much every complaint you make speaks to your isolation from most of the contemporary art world in matters of taste and community. From an admitted disance, your exclusion seems self-imposed. Admittedly there's a nice cadre here to agree with you, but most of this wouldn't fly in the broader art community, just like your general politics don't.

Pretty much every defense of the establishment you make speaks of excessive coziness with a culture of compromise. I'm sure you're rewarded handsomely for checking your probity at the door of the institution of which you do the bidding, but the broadness of the community with which you identify says nothing about its depth or its ability to criticize itself. I don't know how you measure principle, by I go with rightness, not wide adoption. Fortunately that comes with a community of its own, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Speaking of which, I would rather be 100% wrong about the NEA with my real name signed to it than 100% right under a pseudonym.

204.

204

June 9, 2008, 10:25 PM

Pretty much every complaint you make speaks to your isolation...

.... but YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT

It's so exciting,

swack
Julie

205.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 10:29 PM

RE: Munson

Munson's book was published in 2001, and she served as the deputy chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2001-5. It's interesting to note that her appointment seems to have had a lot to do with her friendship and political connections to Cheney's culturally minded wife. In any event, it sure doesn't seem like she'd quite given up on government cultural initiatives or funding...

"I would characterize unconstitutionality as a broad taxpayer concern"

How often do you think the American public associates "unconstitutionality" with things like cultural spending, education, and other social services? Let me unneccesarily broaden what we're talking about, and anticipate that you're going to launch into a comparison of NEA funding and the illegal detentions taking place at Guantanamo...

"I study, I write, and I vote"

I'm not arguing that you don't do all of these three things. I just don't think you're very thorough at synthesizing them in posts like this. You should show some familiarity and experience with the NEA outside of Munson's text. Politics is more than just voting. I gave a list of possible ways you could be involved with NEA policy and funding decisions, and you've given no evidence that you've ever tried to use any of them before starting to complain. You strike me as someone too stubborn (of course you'd say "principled") to see that political desires can't be instantaneously gratified. Get real!

206.

Clem

June 9, 2008, 10:34 PM

"culture of compromise"

Ha!

Welcome to the good ol' polis, my good fellow!

And to think that you guys didn't know what I was getting at when I called your tastes and aesthetic philosophy overly puritanical when I first got here...

207.

Franklin

June 9, 2008, 11:16 PM

And we're done here - #205-206 has hurled too much bullshit. "Clem" has impugned Munson's credentials, likened my concerns to Guantanamo, stated that I have no right to complain about anything until I've attempted political action, and conflated my taste with my politics. Sorry, dear heart, but this conversation has become a time waster. I don't need to defend myself or anyone else against charges that are this stupid.

I'll give you one thing, though - maybe I haven't spent enough time on political action. So by way of a challenge, you give me your name and that of the arts organization you work for, and I'll see if I can get you fired over the next several years. You should have nothing to worry about, right? After all, I expect my political desires to be immediately gratified, you represent the broader art community, and I'm isolated from the art world in matters of taste and community. You should have nothing to worry about! So let's have at it.

208.

MC

June 10, 2008, 12:58 AM

Why not deal with the substance of what I wrote"

So I did, by finding two examples completely lacking in substance.
"

Ha ha! You bonehead! Of course there was "substance" to that paragraph and sentence! It was full of words and punctuation, combined to form phrases. YOU QUOTED THEM... But you didn't deal in any way with the content! Simply quoting me is not an argument, you idiot! In order to "deal with the substance", you actually have to deal with it (not just point to it, dipshit!) and say why de Duve's book was not what I said it was, or why Einspruch's review in question was not what I said it was. Or, as you say, better yet, just give up on all this helpless flailing, and stick to what you do know about... what was that, again?

Oh yes, you're an avid runner... and I'm sure you're very good at that. Run along now, Clem...

"I'm stealing the terminology "colossal buffoon" from MC for the title of an artwork."

You're welcome, Cedric... I guess Clemtroll has served some purpose, after all... as the namesake to a new artwork! Huzzah!

209.

What's my Byline

June 10, 2008, 5:58 AM

Does Ron Paul take the same view on the NEH as he does the NEA? It (the NEH) seems to have a somewhat bigger budget.

210.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 6:46 AM

What part of "unnecessarily broaden" didn't you get? Saying that unconstitutionality is a broad concern in relation to arts funding precisely exaggerates the issue and term in this manner. Like I said, you ask for examples of unconstitutionality from taxpayers in general, and the NEA is unlikely to come up all that often!

In regards to Munson, what constitutes the unfair impugnment? Are you challenging any of the facts that I gave? Check out part of her own bio from an organization she is currently involved in:

"She served as Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from 2001–2005, overseeing all agency operations. During her tenure, the NEH awarded over 3,600 grants totaling more than $442 million for institution-building projects"

Perhaps John is in a better position to judge what I've written. In any event, while I can acknowledge her specific criticisms of the NEA, it is also seems clear that she isn't making a case to end government funding of culture.

And for the record, neither this writing or my livelihood are publicly funded.

211.

Chris Rywalt

June 10, 2008, 6:49 AM

The National Endowment for the Humanities, now that sounds like a waste of taxpayer dollars.

212.

opie

June 10, 2008, 7:05 AM

Clem: guilt by association is "unfair impugnment".

Franklin: I hope you are seriously through with this exchange. The person is incapable of directness and specificity and seems to be driving us away from our guidelines (which is our fault, not his, but he sure forces the temptation).

213.

Franklin

June 10, 2008, 7:28 AM

Byline, nothing turns up in search, but I would assume so. Of course, the first things he wants to get rid of are the IRS and the Federal Reserve.

Opie, yes, like I said, we're done. I'm about to put up a new The Moon Fell On Me.

214.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 8:12 AM

From Munson's NEH biography:

"Ms. Munson was special assistant to National Endowment for the Humanities chairman Lynne Cheney from 1990 to 1993.
Ms. Munson is a member of the White House Commission on
Presidential Scholars and serves on the advisory council of the Independent Women's Forum"

See the following article from Salon for some reporting of Munson's extended political connections to Lynn Cheney:

http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2004/08/26/lynne_cheney/index.html

Page 3 gets to the heart of her involvement and criticism of her tenure.

215.

Hovig

June 10, 2008, 8:40 AM

Clem, #190,

There's nothing wrong with hard work, but if craft is the servant of creativity, then the amount of work done is not the most important characteristic of a project.

People in government want to effect change -- to "change the world" -- and so do journalists. It's been theorized that both groups work hard for low pay because they are on a mission. (Ideology is a pejorative term in my dictionary, but I realize that sometimes you need passions to advance society). You might call the desire to effect change "advocacy," but I could also call it interference, depending on how the lines are drawn.

Let me back up again and put this conversation back in perspective. I don't think organizations like the NEA have a lot of power in the first place. Even Munson says so, in the essay linked above:

In art funding agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, in museums, college art history departments, and even in artists' studios, this bias has placed narrow limits on what type of art it has been acceptable to fund, to exhibit, to study, and even to make.

So Munson is implicating colleges, museums and artists themselves. This is a broadside against the entirety of the arts community. This argument does not seem to support the assertion that government support of the arts is damaging much of anything. One might even make the case that government is a follower rather than a leader.

Most people don't think about physics more often than an occasional game of billiards, but for some reason government and university sponsorship of people at the leading edges of physics does not draw as much ire as government sponsorship of the leading edge of cultural expression. But this is a whole other topic.

So back to your comment #190, you missed entirely the main point when you asked whether any outcomes are "better served by private galleries and sale of contemporary work." Remember that in Ron Paul's original statement, as excerpted above, we are comparing the NEA to the totality of private donations to the arts, not revenues.

In that light, I don't see why local museums and other establishments can't spend all the money they've raised by establishing a prize or grant-giving system, and hiring all the thoughtful and hard-working people you admire in your "rosy" descriptions above. Each money-raising organization can maintain its ideology as strongly as its supporters allow it, and the country can only benefit from competition among them.

In fact I would encourage the New Modernists to do the same. I'd bet that Golden Paints would love to sponsor a movement that's all about the medium. Imagine what Jackson Pollock could have done with a few bottles of Clear Tar Gel.

216.

John

June 10, 2008, 9:46 AM

Clem (#210): Munson certainly did serve as Deputy Chairman of the NEH for 4 years. She has never been opposed to government funding for the arts or humanities; she simply thinks the money should be spent on better stuff. Had she been CHAIRMAN of the NEH, I'm sure those grants would have been awarded somewhat differently because she would have selected somewhat different people for the panels. I don't think she would go back to the "closed door" approach that the NEA originally used, but selecting those who do the selecting can have a great influence on the outcome.

In any case, you are absolutely right that she is not making a case to end government funding of culture. In fact, one of the positives about a McCain victory in November is the possibility that Lynne Munson might come to occupy the chair at the NEA. I don't know of anyone on the democratic side who would be as good, but then, that does not mean there is no one. Nor do I know McCain would appoint her.

In general, a very strong leader, such as Munson, at the helm for the NEA could effect change, and change for the better. But I am very skeptical that such a leader would ever be appointed, by either party. So, abolishing the government's involvement in culture remains my personal preference.

Clem (#214): your URL ultimately leads to a sign up page, not the article you wanted us to read.

217.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 10:00 AM

Hovig,

I take you point about the original implications of the quote. Though we've been discussing the market in terms of individual participation and purchasing as well.

John,

It works repeatedly for me. Are you much of Salon reader, because maybe there are cookies that are blocking the content?

In any event, I searched some of the text and found this copy of it. I'll let you address its claims, but the bias of its location is clear, even to me! : )

http://kerrylibrary.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=139&st=0&p=3039

218.

opie

June 10, 2008, 10:29 AM

I am not surprised that that stew of unsupported allegations (the Salon article) is your type of writing, Clem. I am no fan of Dick Cheney, and I know little about Lynne Cheney, but I certainly know a one-sided hatchet job when I see one.

Furthermore, your target, Lynne Munson, is barely mentioned in the piece, and she is mentioned in the same spirit as the rest of it. In a 4-page article, the following:

Munson is considered the most punitive...she has been overheard boasting loudly that she has spoken recently with Cheney... Munson lacks a Ph.D., an essential qualification whose absence, her detractors say, is evidence that pure politics is behind her assignment... Munson began stacking the supposedly independent peer review grant panels and the National Council with conservatives...Munson and Cole revived the Cheney-era practice of "flagging" research proposals for rejection that were insufficiently patriotic...Munson began requiring program officers to submit their choices for peer review panels to her for approval, thus eliminating "wrong-thinking" people from the front lines of grant making.

Of these assertions perhaps the fact that she does not have a PhD may be the one demonstrable fact. (I sympathize. I don't have a PhD either. In fact among most artists I know a PhD pretty well clinches that you don't have much of a feel for art).

You are probably better off staying non specific, dodging and weaving and prevaricating and dissembling, because when you finally get down to brass tacks you flub it.

219.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 10:48 AM

Opie,

You guys have already been around the block in Munson's defense:

http://www.artblog.net/index.php?name=2005-01-03-07-10-phd

http://www.artblog.net/index.php?name=2005-01-06-14-39-consortium

I'd hope that you can admit that some substantiated criticism of her has already been made in these threads. So let's forgo the repetition.

You said that I was making her guilty by association. I did not take the tone of the Salon article, I merely pointed out that she had worked alongside Cheney for years. I think it's a reasonable assumption to say that's a big part of how she landed the job, don't you?

220.

Chris Rywalt

June 10, 2008, 10:54 AM

Why, these tacks aren't brass at all! They're cheap aluminum!

221.

Jack

June 10, 2008, 10:55 AM

Re #206:

To broadly paraphrase Samuel Johnson ("patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"), playing the Puritan card may well be the last refuge of a whore.

222.

Franklin

June 10, 2008, 11:05 AM

Why is the method by which Munson obtained her job germane to this thread?

223.

What's my Byline

June 10, 2008, 11:22 AM

She has no PHD.

224.

John

June 10, 2008, 11:29 AM

For what its worth, the "chair" and "deputy chair" positions at both endowments are political appointments. And have been from the get go. The party in control of the executive branch makes them. That's how it is.

Lynne Cheney know Munson's work very well and obviously respected it. Yes, that probably had a lot to do with the appointment.

The Sloan article about Lynne Cheney, on the other hand, reminds me of the article that is now in VANITY FAIR about Bill Clinton. Just gossip. (And I love gossip - just think there is a right place for it and a wrong place. Both articles are the wrong place.) As opie suggests, Munson is just a footnote.

That said, the only way to reform those two endowments is to change the membership of the "peer" review panels. Clearly there are other "peers" who don't buy into what the particular "peers" appointed to those panels buy into. If I were the head of one of those agencies, my whole agenda would be to move them into a new direction by placing "peers" into those spots who had new ideas, new values, and new energy.

I have full confidence that Lynne Munson would do just that as well. I just don't have much hope that it will ever come to pass. But there is a much greater possibility that she might get such a chance than I would. Like in 10 x 0.0000001. That a whooping 0.000001.

225.

opie

June 10, 2008, 11:31 AM

Talk about tacks. You miss any point that comes along, Clem.It is a kind of talent, I suppose. A huge can of red herrings.

Not everyone who works for the endowments has a PhD (May I assume that was the iumplication, Byline?)

226.

What's my Byline

June 10, 2008, 11:40 AM

The credential issue does seem to have come up, yes.

227.

opie

June 10, 2008, 12:02 PM

So, what's your point?

228.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 12:03 PM

Gosh some of you guys can be dense. Let me elaborate:

Franklin wrote,

"I'm still waiting to hear about how all the accountability demanded of the professionals involved squares with what happened to the NEA as described by Munson"

I pointed out that by looking at Munson's career, one got the drift that she wasn't making so much a systemic critique as one about what is funded. This is substantially different from Franklin's position that nothing (contemporary) should be funded.

John seems to have agreed with me that this isn't the case Munson is making. Does anyone think otherwise?

Munson's selection, career, expertise, and political stripes are all largely beside the point in Franklin's argument, in which the quality of administration and judgment don't prevent every taxpayers' exclusion.

From what I gather of her record, she indeed worked to stack the deck and centralize authority by "flagging" projects instead of letting committees make decisions. Again, maybe John's in a better position to refute or confirm this. And let me be clear that I think a left-wing bias can be as troubling as a conservative one, regardless of my preference for the former.

229.

opie

June 10, 2008, 12:16 PM

Sliding, hiding and dividing like mercury on a tipsy plate...

230.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 12:20 PM

Why don't you do me a favor then, and point out how I did any one of those in my previous comment.

231.

231

June 10, 2008, 12:27 PM

New Modernists are easily distracted

232.

Chris Rywalt

June 10, 2008, 12:28 PM

What was that? Huh? I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention.

233.

Hovig

June 10, 2008, 12:30 PM

Clem, #217,

Sure. But is there a difference? Markets mean competition for financial support, at the risk of financial peril. Individual decision-makers can choose products and services of different price and quality, and bestow financial strength upon the entities they patronize.

For example: A museum gets money when it provides value to the public. They might provide an hour of art-viewing enjoyment for a visitor, feelings of well-being and community for a member, or ideological advocacy for a donor. Making people happy means making more money.

A government gets money, period. While everyone benefits from the services a government provides (e.g., roads), the benefits of ideological advocacy and feelings of well-being accrue not to its patrons (the taxpayers), but to those who work in the government at that moment.

Maybe the NEA is nothing more than a fringe benefit to ruling party? People who work for big companies get all kinds of fringe benefits, so I don't have a problem with the NEA being an employment benefit. ("If we win the government, then 'our side' can decide what to do with art!")

But I think the onus is on you to demonstrate that the government can do something for art that the private sector can't, or that it plugs a hole that would otherwise cause harm. Keep in mind that universities, museums and other non-profit community organizations (e.g., artist spaces, arts funding organizations, museum schools) are all private, non-governmental, entities.

Also keep in mind that all those hundreds of billions of dollars spent on art -- the ones you seem most recently intrigued by -- are flowing through the private hands of a community which has plenty of money to donate to the institutions of their choice.

If there's a better role for government than buying art for public spaces and protecting the national patrimony, then why can't it just conduct one big lottery? Unless you agree that the NEA is really just a fringe benefit for being a member of the ruling party.

234.

opie

June 10, 2008, 12:50 PM

It is a maxim of rhetoric and debate, Clem, that if you cannot directly counter what someones says you divert. You are a master at it, but you seem to do it for its own sake rather than to make your point. In fact, you often defeat your point by obscuring it with subtrefuge.

John brought up Munson way up there on top because she write a book on the endowments. Part of Franklin's point about government spending peoples money is the corruptibility of government institutions. She made a case for this. You proceeded to defend the endowments by giving examples of Endowment accountability. Franklin challenged you on this, and repeated his challenge immediately above. You answered this by writing:

This is substantially different from Franklin's position that nothing (contemporary) should be funded

Which is nothing more than what you have been doing over and over and over: dodging the bullet by answering with a non-answer.

As a debating tactic this is useful. As part of an honest discussion taken to work out art world problems and come to conclusions it is annoying and dishonest.

235.

Jack

June 10, 2008, 1:12 PM

I demand an immediate investigation on the propriety of Robert Kennedy being named Attorney General by President Kennedy, who happened to be his brother. I'm sure everyone here who's at all bothered by the particulars of Munson's appointment must be absolutely livid over the RFK deal, however remote. After all, true holiness knows no partisanship.

236.

Hovig

June 10, 2008, 1:26 PM

I realize that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote," but the Washington Post today tells an interesting story about government competing against the private sector.

Senate Votes To Privatize Its Failing Restaurants
Washington Post, Monday, June 9, 2008; Page A01

Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate's network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money -- more than $18 million since 1993, according to one report, and an estimated $2 million this year alone, according to another.

The financial condition of the world's most exclusive dining hall and its affiliated Capitol Hill restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops has become so dire that, without a $250,000 subsidy from taxpayers, the Senate won't make payroll next month.

[ ... ] Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Rules and Administrations Committee, which oversees the operation of the Senate, said she had no choice.

[ ... ] In a masterful bit of understatement, Feinstein blamed "noticeably subpar" food and service. Foot traffic bears that out. Come lunchtime, many Senate staffers trudge across the Capitol and down into the basement cafeteria on the House side [which was privatized in the 1980s]. On Wednesdays, the lines can be 30 or 40 people long.

[ ... ] "I know what happens with privatization. Workers lose jobs, and the next generation of workers make less in wages. These are some of the lowest-paid workers in our country, and I want to help them," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a staunch labor union ally, said recently. The wages of the approximately 100 Senate food service workers average $37,000 annually.

Feinstein made another presentation May 7, warning senators that if they did not agree to turn over the operation to a private contractor, prices would be increased 25 percent across the board.

[...] Eventually, Democrats agreed to pass legislation that includes guarantees for those who go to work for Restaurant Associates.

[...] By one estimate, Restaurant Associates would turn a large profit within three years and would begin paying about $800,000 annually in commissions to the Senate. [...]

237.

opie

June 10, 2008, 1:36 PM

This is data, Hovig. It's just a small amount of data. We have all read hundreds of other little similar datas.

BTW one thing I experienced at the endowments and what worried the USIA and State Dept people, was that just about every country in the world had some sort of coordinated international arts program and for every international show that came up the US was improvising & flying by the seat of its pants. (this was 30 years ago)

238.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 1:41 PM

You raise some good points, Hovig.

Political influence on cultural funding decisions is a difficult issue to solve. Nothing can guarantee that administrators and panels always achieve balance, but at the same time, sometimes bias and political interference are is more pronounced. I don't have any ready-made answers. Is it better to insulate the cultural bureaucrats a little bit more from changing regimes? Should panel decisions be privileged moreso than a chairman or deputy's? Personally, I think that it's at the panel level that you've the best chance of ensuring a diversity of opinions and interests. I agree that if it's just academics and bureaucrats making funding calls then there's a problem, but we'd need to look at specific panel makeups before characterizing them like that. And how do we the people maintain this diversity, but by nominating people we feel are qualified to judge submissions. And I'm well aware that approving panel members stirs up difficulties too : )

Regarding what public funding can do that private donations don't, I'm not arguing that there aren't a lot of similarities. I thinks it's moreso a matter of their orientation. Both support independent organizations, individual artists, and claim that they're supporting a general public good. But again, I tend to think that the major private funders have little to no accountability to the public. And really, why should they? But public funders offer opportunities, imperfect ones at that, to the individuals that they represent, to influence decisions about what does get funded. I think a big part of what fudges the difference between private and public funders is that all too often the public isn't aware or motivated to participate in shaping the latter. If this sounds too idealistic, maybe I'll think of some concrete examples.

Regarding the lottery, I would like to think our level of trust in the NEA's judgment is somewhat higher than needing to resort to randomness (notwithstanding Munson's overblown caricatures). Maybe this is a silly example, but because certain military contracts have been suspect, does that mean we start rolling the dice to improve the situation?

239.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 1:57 PM

Opie,

"John brought up Munson way up there on top because she write a book on the endowments. Part of Franklin's point about government spending peoples money is the corruptibility of government institutions. She made a case for this"

You're the one being selective! Munson is making a case about poor decisions, not the right of government to be involved with them. Where does John's lead-in to Munson's book, or the text Franklin provided state otherwise?

"you proceeded to defend the endowments by giving examples of Endowment accountability. Franklin challenged you on this, and repeated his challenge immediately above"

So what part of Franklin admitting to not knowing enough about NEA operations to reasonably comment on them did you miss?

"Which is nothing more than what you have been doing over and over and over: dodging the bullet by answering with a non-answer"

What question am I failing to address? Whether or not I think that certain funding decisions have their failings? Can you be any less clear?

240.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 2:20 PM

Hovig,

Maybe I can approach some of your questions in a different manner.

In my experience, most non-profit arts institutions would not survive without public funding-- at least in their current incarnations. Permanent spaces, permanent staff, and supporting individual artists depend on a diversity of funders. Take away government funding, and many of their activities would be curtailed, if not folded up completely. The ones that would survive would be those able to market themselves to the public and private donors. I do think that there is a certain responsibility to be relevant to one's audience and the public, but do we want these organizations to confuse relevance with marketability and broad appeal? As I said to Franklin earlier, it's not the major institutions that would suffer most dramatically if NEA and other governmental funding were cut, but the ones at the margins.

241.

John

June 10, 2008, 2:31 PM

Clem said: "Nothing can guarantee that administrators and panels always achieve balance..."

"Balance" is not the point. "Diversity of opinions" likewise. Excellence is. In her book and in her essay Munson gives us a pretty good idea what excellence means to her. I won't elaborate any further because it is a swamp that has already consumed too much bandwidth here.

Munson did not overblow anything in her choice of examples - they were all real and no one that I know of has challenged them as facts. The only thing overblown was the "art" itself. (I use the term loosely in the case of Pope.L.)

I go back again ... the government does not seem likely to provide excellence in culture at this time. It certainly might provide "diversity". Myself, I'd just quit funding the little beasts. Color me Ronald Reagan.

242.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 2:34 PM

Sorry for the consecutive posts,

I just want to add that it's not that I think that either institutions or artists should expect funding. They do need to work and make convincing arguments for what they're doing, and should be accountable for the results that the funding allows for. But in my experience, the "comfort" level for smaller organizations is usually quite low. If they are partially insulated from market realities, don't forget that there are different types of competition that still test their mettle.

243.

Clem

June 10, 2008, 2:40 PM

John,

I guess you need to ask what that diversity is for. I tend to think it's an acknowledgment that various camps promote differing versions of excellence. And until the good ol' quality meter is perfected, maybe we're stuck with that?

244.

Hovig

June 10, 2008, 2:58 PM

Clem, I take your point about organizations at the margins -- which might be the best defense of an NEA -- but it merely begs the question of what those organizations are doing for society in the first place if they need so much insulation, as opposed to "start-up" assistance which would be expected to wane over time.

Don't those organizations need to justify themselves to the public at some point? They're not going to become self-perpetuating yet unaccountable government organizations themselves, are they?

Can't the minor organizations be funded by the major ones? Can't the people who would otherwise work for the NEA go and work for other non-profit organizations and do the same things? Would we be able to recover 121 million dollars per year if it were extracted from the museums and orchestras of the country?

Every museum and orchestra I know does "community outreach." It shouldn't be a stretch to extend that, should it? Are you saying that even those types of organizations would be too averse to the types of earth-shaking diversity that an organization like the NEA could support?

P.S. I'm not prepared to equate military preparedness with readiness for the Venice Biennale, but taking the question for the sake of discussion, the two are opposites. I would expect arts funding to reward those who are not able to account for themselves -- which is also what you just said -- whereas I would expect exactly the opposite of military funding.

P.P.S. Diversity is just fodder for competition. Diversity per se is meaningless. Many ethnic communities wonder why their ancient forebears' indiginous practices are not more interesting to those who follow foreign ethnic cultures, never stopping to think that maybe their culture just isn't all that interesting, period. (Speaking as someone who has held such thoughts).

245.

John

June 10, 2008, 2:59 PM

Take a look at this:

Marty Hoogasian. New-mo is everywhere.

Clem: ARTFORUM started out (in LA) with a mission similar to the one you talk about ... giving space to "differing versions of excellence". It was a true "forum" then. But as it became more and more involved in the trend of the day, it lost whatever fire it had then, even as it paid greater and greater lip service to pluralism, diversity, all that stuff.

I am in favor of skepticism and openness. "Diversity", as its meaning has evolved to our time, boils down to the opposite of what the word really means and has little to do with "diverse". Instead, it is a narrow and intolerant denial of everything that is not "in". But real diversity, I'll take it any time. The "quality meter" can do its thing only when the good stuff is allowed exposure, and a true free for all is as good a way as any to get it out there.

ARTFORUM was once a good example of the free for all of which I speak. Not any more.

246.

opie

June 10, 2008, 3:51 PM

Clem: I say what the problem is, you say "what is the problem?"

Screw it. Enough.

247.

Jack

June 10, 2008, 5:35 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, and others, it appears Artblog is now overrun with the equivalent of kudzu. I urge the webmaster to take appropriate action.

248.

george

June 10, 2008, 8:47 PM

The Painter Who Adored Women
Roberta sez "“Roy Lichtenstein: Girls,” at the Gagosian Gallery, presents 12 of Lichtenstein’s early paintings of the female creatures otherwise known as women. ..."

Whatever, this was a very nice exhibition to see in person instead of just looking at a jpeg.

249.

Chris Rywalt

June 10, 2008, 8:49 PM

Oh, George, why didn't you invite me? We could've gone together. I'm always interested in gallery-hopping with people. It makes it more interesting.

250.

Chris Rywalt

June 11, 2008, 5:00 AM

Although I do think Lichtenstein was a thief and a hack.

251.

opie

June 11, 2008, 5:45 AM

And in the case of paintings like these, the difference between a jpeg and "the real thing" is slight. One way or the other, they are still just flat, inert, clunky cartoons and not very good cartoons at that.

252.

george

June 11, 2008, 6:51 AM

Sorry opie, but they are better than anything you ever made in those years.

253.

opie

June 11, 2008, 6:58 AM

Wow. That really put me in my place!

254.

Franklin

June 11, 2008, 8:07 AM

Ladies and gentlemen, and others, it appears Artblog is now overrun with the equivalent of kudzu. I urge the webmaster to take appropriate action.

Yeah, this is a tough call. Hovig, bless him, seems to be able to generate a useful discussion with Clem, and I'm looking closely at what he wrote. The utility of someone like Clem is the opportunity afforded to reasonable thinkers to showcase their thoughts. But in the meantime, we get exchanges like this:

Me: I'm still waiting to hear about how all the accountability demanded of the professionals involved squares with what happened to the NEA as described by Munson.

Clem: I pointed out that by looking at Munson's career, one got the drift that she wasn't making so much a systemic critique as one about what is funded. This is substantially different from Franklin's position that nothing (contemporary) should be funded.

We're dealing with a sophist of the first order. Not calling this out as bullshit could come off as condoning it, but calling it out as bullshit is a waste of intellectual effort, like entertaining a serious response to George's #252, which Opie smartly didn't trouble himself with. So I'm inclined to let it the exchange continue just in case I have to deal with someone equally toxic in real life. Too, an upcoming comics project I'm working on involves a character who is steeped in the culture of postmodernist sophistry and Clem is practically writing her dialogue for me.

I do want to call out something that fell by the wayside, though: this rather obvious ploy to divert the discussion how Munson obtained her job rather than deal with what Munson wrote in the article linked above. Supposedly public appointees are accountable in all sorts of ways, according to Clem, so how does all that square with what happened at the NEA as described by Munson? Hey, according to this article, Munson worked closely with Lynne Cheney! This tells me what I need to know about Clem's moral standards, and it's too disgusting to me to ignore. I admire Hovig's coolness in the face of this sort of thing.

255.

Clem

June 11, 2008, 8:30 AM

Hovig,

"Don't those organizations need to justify themselves to the public at some point?"

I was mulling this one over in my head for a bit. I think it is a honest assessment to say that most small organizations will never attract a broad enough audience to pay for their operations. They're often too specialized to be of general interest. Instead, they're hubs for the artistic community and good starting places for newcomers. Their community outreach isn't something they do on the side, it's the whole reason for their existence. Hosting resources, putting together workshops, curating local artists, educating, getting people involved in arts administration, building relationships with other communities-- these are some of their day to day activities. In general, aren't these "products" harder to market and make a profit off of? But don't they still benefit the public by providing access and support? I guess we have to ask how much of a problem is it if their audience is small. Does this make them somehow irrelevant? I think that since they continue to provide opportunities to the public at large, they are of continued benefit.

Re: Your thoughts on have larger institutions fund smaller ones. You do see this happening from time to time. However, I think it goes back to the question of decentralization. That's why so many of these smaller spaces and museums popper up in the first place. Communities wanted more responsive bodies, ones which more closely address their needs.

Re: Diversity. It can be meaningless, and shouldn't be a defense of poor quality. But again, history and experience show that there is no definite consensus on what constitutes quality. Even you example speaks to the problem of cultural perspective.

John,

Orthodoxy isn't great, even when it seems to be of an unorthodox variety. That said, I just tend to see a lot more differences and variety in the "post-modern" / conceptual camp that you guys keep grouping together. To step outside the context of art for a minute, it's like when people group Foucault and Derrida together, not realizing how oppositional they were in a lot of respects.

Re: Artforum. You're just pissed that they dedicated an entire issue to Mai 68, aren't you! ; )

256.

opie

June 11, 2008, 8:42 AM

It is not debating about postmodernism, Franklin, it is postmodernist debating. You can't hit it because it isn't there.

257.

Jack

June 11, 2008, 9:19 AM

Franklin, if you can, explain why I (or anyone) should have to wade through reams of certifiable BS, which is not only useless but noxious, from an anonymous, evasive, highly suspect jerk who is grossly abusing your hospitality, taking up way too much space, and can't even refrain from insulting his very lenient host.

He can start his own blog or go hang out somewhere where people buy what he's selling, but it's gone beyond absurd that he's still being allowed to run rampant here, where he has yet to contribute a single, solitary worthwhile comment.

In other words, it's past time to take out the trash.

258.

MC

June 11, 2008, 9:19 AM

"So I'm inclined to let it the exchange continue just in case I have to deal with someone equally toxic in real life."

Welcome to Edmonton, Franklin... Maybe "Clem" will come to your opening at Common Sense...

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