Archive for the Art & Competition Category

Goya and Cholla and the Betwixting Art Connection

Posted in Animal Stuff, art, Art & Competition, Artists, Exhibits, lessons in Art, Miracles, The meaning of life, The Process of Art with tags , , , , on October 18, 2008 by Admin

Equine artist to make international debut in Italy

By Sandra Chereb, Associated Press Writer
RENO — His artwork has been described as having the “fire of Pollock” and the “fixed gaze of Resnick.”

Now, a Reno artist will be making his international debut, having been invited to exhibit his work in a juried art competition in Italy.

He won’t be going abroad, however, to bask in the aura of great Italian masters. Instead, this artist will remain at home, contemplating his next masterpiece while gnawing on his paintbrushes — between mouthfuls of hay.
Cholla (pronounced CHOY-ah) is a mustang-quarter horse mix whose paintings have been featured in art exhibits from San Francisco to New York and now overseas.

His creation, The Big Red Buck, was selected for exhibit in the 3rd International Art Prize Arte Laguna, Oct. 18-Nov. 2, Mogliano Veneto, Italy.

Since Cholla rhymes with Goya I decided to make this an educational post. Preferably and pointedly after the plein air pony pics with palette and poserly poise. I am stuck on alliteration today.

Pensive Pony in plein air.

Pensive Pony in plein air. Cholla, the painterly pony of pleasing palettes. I think I'd not have chosen that frame for that painting however but that's just Moi. Cholla is thinking the same thing, as one can pleinly see, by his pondering pose.

Goya, at tea time. Don't be afraid - he's just playing.

Goya, at tea time. Don't be scrayed, he's just playing. I have been using 'scrayed' over 'scared' since 2000. Some typos are worth keeping. Don't go changing. But really, this is the real (ish) title - Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819. The title, like all those given to the Black Paintings, was assigned by others after Goya's death.

Cholla in his plein air studio posing for the photographer.

Cholla in his plein air studio posing for the photographer.

Amazing coincidental facts about Goya and how they relate to Cholla. It is truly inexplicable, the similarities betwixt the two artists. A true head scratcher…
Continue reading

Open Studios and such

Posted in Adventures and Interludes, art, Art & Competition, Artists, Exhibits, Life Performance Art, The meaning of life, The Process of Art with tags , , , on October 17, 2008 by Admin

Last weekend we had this amazing open studios here in DownHo – my purposely non-hip name for Lower Holyoke. I used to call it LoHo to differentiate it from HiHo because Holyoke runs downhill from the big houses on Rt 5 where the mill owners lived (BIG houses) through the suburbs (Big, and then medium houses), and down hill all the way till you can’t get much lower (80 fathoms below sea level, I tell you) to where the studio buildings are. But LoHo sounded hip and I am not hip so it did not feel like a good match. I then switched it to DownHo and UpHo so as to be clear that I am not assigning to myself, or assuming that I have, any hipness.

Me, as a semi-blur, in Pizza Alley

Me, as a semi-blur, in Pizza Alley. Photo by Rambling VanDog, who has a fabulous Blog. <---that's a poem.

Anyway, three buildings were open and showed Fine Art, (no retail thingies for shoppers here); mine (as if I own it) and the two across the canal – Paper City Studios and The Parsons Project. Paper City Studios had sculpture and installation (where I showed my Greenscreen Beamscope [named for the Beamscope screen I used in it] Floravision TV) and a very intense and impressive performance piece called, You Don’t Have to Fuck People Over to Survive by Seth Tobokman, Eric Blitz and Steve Wishnia. I have a 30s video of this I will insert here later…

…and The Parsons Project had a really great array of video pieces and painting AND… Saturday night a sculptor friend of The Parsons Project came from the Catskills area with a pickup truck loaded with bricks. He spent all day Saturday, with the help of friends, building a brick oven in the alley between the two buildings and then spent the evening making pizza and giving it away. He makes his own yeast and this batch was made from the mother yeast that he first made 4 years ago. He, Michael O’Malley, used his own tomatoes and basil and such. It was amazing – the real deal.

The Greenscreen Beamscope Floravision by Mo. Photo by Rambling VanDog.

The Greenscreen Beamscope Floravision by Mo. Photo by Rambling VanDog.

Rambling VanDog did a fabulous job of taking pictures and writing about Open Studios so here is that link. And then he posted about Day Two and here is that link. I borrowed one pic from RVD because mine are bad, and because I am in it.

I was able to be helpful during pizza times when Michael ran out of basil and I ran across the canal to pick some of mine. So the last batch had very local, fresh-picked basil and that seemed logically appropriate. I like to be helpful. Not a hero, but helpful.

This experience was a far cry from the last time I participated in Open Studios in my old space at The Arts & Industry Building in Florence… Continue reading

Support Our Local Penguins

Posted in Adventures and Interludes, Animal Stuff, Art & Competition, Communication on March 17, 2008 by Admin

In the year 2000 B.N. (Before Now), while on a trip to Australia, I went on an Ecotour to see the Little Penguins on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia. The story, according to our inadvertently hilarious and super-animated bus driver, is that the penguins on this island are of interest to researchers worldwide because they are the world’s smallest penguins and also because they have this ritual of group survival tailored to their environment and which is quite beautiful in its own, “I got your back”, way. To me the phrase, “I got your back”, is among the most beautiful things a person can say to another. I have heard it a lot lately. And because it makes me feel so special and safe and secure, I have taken to reiterating the sentiment to the people I love. I know… awwwwww.

Anyway – formerly they were called the “Fairy Penguins” but then some group objected to the possible implications of that (as if the penguins might be assumed to be gay and thus be discriminated against? It’s rough in the wild) and the name was formally changed. I guess it’s nice that people were concerned enough about the little feelings and little reputations of the Little Penguins to take steps to protect them from discrimination, (I imagine this group going to address the Little Penguins and saying, “You, you and you; I got your back, all of you”) but the name “Fairy Penguins” seems so sweet and magical, whereas, “Little Penguins”, seems more of a descriptive term than a formal name.

Apollo Bay, Australia

To see the now-politically-correctly-named penguins, I took a bus from Melbourne which I think I recall took a few hours. The penguin parade starts at dusk so the trip is scheduled around this. No cameras are allowed within the penguin sanctuary and we were advised to dress warmly as it got mighty chilly on the island after dark. When I went to the appointed bus place, layered up with every t-shirt and sweatshirt I had packed for this trip, there was a line of 6 buses and the first 4 were full. As I boarded the 5th bus I heard someone yell, “Mo, over here!”. Imagine my surprise when I saw my first therapist from kindergarten! Well, it wasn’t her so stop imagining that surprise – but, in a crazy coincidence, it was a woman from Cape Cod that I had met the week before on a trip to Apollo Bay and the famous Bell’s Beach (both pictured above) where the movie, “Point Break”, with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze was filmed. I think it won Oscars for best drama or something. It was like, “The English Patient”, but with surfers and no bandages or language barriers. The bus got us to the island an hour and half before dusk so we were instructed to amuse ourselves for a while and that we’d not be allowed in the sanctuary till the appointed time. So my new friend from Cape Cod suggested we get a bottle of wine at a store and takeout seafood from a little bistro and then make a sunset picnic on the beach. We had a hilarious picnic in which we took turns trying to do the most spot-on imitation of the bus driver who said things in a funny, and inexplicably squeaky way, with a funny, not-like-the-other-Australians accent. When he pointed out scenic things along the way he’d say, “Now you might (<-squeak) like to to get an identity (<-double squeak) of that”, and point to said scenic thing. He’d sort of gesture wildly while he talked and was quite theatrical and since we were sitting in the first row we noticed that he watched his own reflection in the windshield while he gestured theatrically and drove. He was the best tour guide ever. I got really good at my impersonation of him after a few glasses of wine and I won a medal and a keychain. Although the keychain was broken and I lost the imaginary medal.

So we got to the island and were allowed to take some pictures of the rest of the island before entering the actual sanctuary.

Phillip Island, Australia

We all huddled on the beach and no one was allowed to say a word. There was a lot of stern peer-shushing. Some people had brought along the bedspreads from their hotels to stay warm so there were lots of huddled masses in bad synthetic patterns. I wished I had thought of that. Just after dusk we started to notice bobbing things in the surf and the whole crowd went wild, albeit silently. The penguins were coming back from their daily fishing expedition. But, until they were all accounted for in the surf they just stayed there and bobbed and the number of bobbing things and suspense began to build. Once all of the Little Penguins were assembled there was some penguin signal we could not discern and then, all of a sudden, all the penguins ran out of the water (pell mell) and made a mad dash across the beach and up the hill to their little homes. It was beautiful. I think I cried.

Why do they do this?

Because they are safer from usual penguin prey such as hawks and foxes if they run as a unit. It’s about survival. It’s about, “got your back”. I think I cried twice. I wonder if they encounter less prey since the name change.

But all this was really just a prelude to a public service announcement so read on…

Help Penguins get a head!


Need Round Altoid Tins Any Color

For Penguin Heads

Please contact

Boss/Brown Art



Thanks, Susan and Mark

Does money (inadvertantly) validate art?

Posted in Activism?, Art & Competition, Art Critique, Communication, Confusion, Misadventures in Art, Narcissisim, Popular Culture, Rejection is not my favorite thing, The Process of Art on March 15, 2008 by Admin

How many times can Horton hear a Who? Is consistency a valid measurement of art, even if selectively applied? What, at the end of the day, is actually being judged?

I have a point. And it’s not about me. It’s about artists. And art.

Big, possibly pointless and ridiculous, idea at the end. Although, my last ridiculous idea did generate some crazy coverage and discussion…

Last night at the fabulous reception at The Northampton Center for the Arts featuring work from Dean Nimmer’s upcoming book, Art From Intuition, I had a conversation with a friend who went to The Fuller Craft Museum last Wednesday for an application review.

The (edited by me, in seafoam green) text for the event reads like this:

ASDGFH, Executive Director of The Qwertyuip Gallery, will walk through the jurying process for the ZXCVB Artist Awards. She will discuss how the jurying process has changed with the digital age and share a selection of award applicants, and critique their submissions .

This lecture is free.

50 cent at the barmitzvahSince once again I forgot my camera and therefore do not have pictures of the reception, I will insert random images from other things here to illustrate, incongruously perhaps, this post. Pictures make everything more interesting. Especially this picture from when 50 Cent compromised his street cred by performing at a 10 million dollar barmitzvah for a very lucky girl who got to dance next to him on stage and which was captured by a cell phone camera even though no cameras were allowed. He looks like he is trying to hide.

Anyway-this friend, who I will call Petunia, because I did not ask him for permission to use his name and report on his reporting of the event and because I just love the name Petunia, reported back to me on the application review because my application was among those reviewed. As a matter of fact, I was something like the last set of slides reviewed or perhaps the among the last – I did not manage to log, in my WhyWhyWhy brain, what my exact place was in the lineup. I like being last though so for the sake of this post I will call myself last.

Anyway-as they flashed my slides on the screen Petunia of course recognized my work. He said that the curator said two things: My photography is inconsistent and her main comment/criticism was, “How many times can you apply glass to an appliance?”

Amelia EarhardtAt the after party for the reception this statement made for a lively and somewhat hilarious discussion with fellow artists, people, and governors. The first response was, “How many times can you apply paint to paper?” Exactly.

To that was added, “How many times can you apply glaze to ceramics? How many times can you fire things in a kiln? How many pieces of furniture can you make? How many times can you make a silver teapot? How many times can you carve stone? How many times can you shape metals into jewelry or trees or sculpture? How many butter dishes/figurines/self-portraits/collages can you make? How many surrealist landscapes can you paint? How many still-lifes can you paint? How many videos can you make? How many installations can you install? How many drawings can you draw? How many times can you apply movement to a performance piece? How many times can you apply words to music?

I think you get the point. I am starting to get it myself.
I could call out every famous, infamous and other artist as a respected example of doing the same thing over and over. Let’s take Joseph Cornell; How may times can you glue together found objects? It’s often thought of as exploring a concept or theme. It’s often thought of as a cohesive body of work. It’s often thought of as working Cultural “council”within a genre. But this is all according to my first grade art teacher so there’s that. I will give myself 1000 points for creating my own genre even though by doing so I don’t fall neatly into grant categories and this affects my grantability. I will give myself no demerits for this post though. I am not being defensive and I am not defending myself so much as defending artists everywhere who do the same thing, repeatedly and over and overly. But I am addressing and somewhat debating the critique of my work. I don’t think that addressing a critique of my work makes me defensive. have you ever had a conversation with someone who invalidates every point you make by automatically taking the opposite stance and then, when you try to explain yourself, says, “You’re so defensive?” That’s one way to “win” a debate I suppose. I think it makes me a mere person who longs to thoughtfully respond to critique of my work which, I would hope, was a thoughtful and constructive addressing of my whole what I do-ness. It’s all so addresserly and thoughtful.

I will call this phenomenon a post-ly genre debatiquecal thought post. Ok–I will accept a handful of demerits for once again mangling a word from the english language and for my redundancy tendencies. Someday I will cash in all those particular demerits in some way and get myself some sushi and a new pair of shoes with fresh heels which I will immediately start grinding down in the bizarre and destructive way that I do. I turn shoes into little rocking chairs and I blame it on my spinal disorder since I don’t walk with my neuroses. Well, I guess I do, hand-in-hand, every day, but not literally. Currently I have no shoes with complete heels and that is a budgety thing which leads me to the next part of the critique, the photography of my work.

I am not saying that I deserved this grant and should have gotten it. I am saying that I should be rejected because of the quality of my work and not because of the photography of my work or, because I am exploring a consistent theme or genre.
VoltaireI had this whole email debate with a person at the Massachusetts Cultural Council last year (I lost); What is more important? What is being judged? The art? Or, the photography of the art? I have a lunch date next week with the Governor of Massachusetts to discuss this particular issue. He has promised to buy me sushi, but not shoes.

Ok–that lunch date is imaginary. But Deval and I have often imaginarically (500 demerits) debated whether or not state grant money should be need-based or solely merit-based and whether or not the art itself is of utmost importance or if the judgment of any art should be based on the photography of said art. He doesn’t know of any grant money available to fund photography of art deemed worthy of the most professional photography and he gets the intellectual concept that it becomes a fiscal cycle and chickens and eggs and omelets. Does the best art come from artists with trust funds? Does the best art come from otherwise funded artists? Does the best art come from poverty? Or, as I suspect, is money irrelevant to true art? Or, again, as Deval and I both suspect, does the best art come from the soul regardless of financial or other circumstance? BUT, the ability to afford frequent reshootings of your work so that it is all “consistent” and has the same lighting and vision is enabled by money.

My photography was called out as inconsistent. It was said that jurors like to see consistent photography of art. That’s funny when you consider that the in the same review I was called out on the over-consistent nature of my work. So, the art should not be consistent but the photography of it should certainly be consistent. This confuses me. This confuses my inner child who still always asks, “But, WHY?” and still gets the reply, “Because that’s how it is”. I cringe whenever I hear about, “how it is”.

oldnew_large.jpgMy work weighs fuckloads. It is also really delicate. The work in the slides reviewed at this talk was made over a period of 5 years. It was photographed professionally by different photographers and in different settings and all of my photography is really excellent and was shot by really talented people (How many times can you be talented?). You know those contests where there is some large glass container of jellybeans or buttons or snips and snails and you are asked to guess how many are in it? Guess how much it would cost to rent a 14 foot truck and two brawny Chippendales (how many times can you put on tight pants and a bowtie?) and bring my work to a photography studio and leave it for a week to be photographed (How many times can you take pictures of things?) on the same paper and by the same vision of the same photographer in the same lighting and vision. Lastly, on the money topic, does not being able to make enough money to support myself in a fancy photographer-ly fashion and spending all the money I do make on conservation-grade, museum-quality adhesives and fancy glass stains from France mean that I am also somehow invalidated as a grant-able artist? I wonder if the desire for money and the ability to go get it resides on the side of the brain I use less? <–Ok, that bit was defensive.

Of course we have to figure in that I’d have to leave the Chippendales at the photography studio for the week so they could wrestle my 350 pound fridges onto the paper and off again for each shot and then they’d likely request a per diem for food and travel expenses (How many times can you eat lunch?) Then we have to add back in another truck rental and those expensive Chippendales again to move all of the work back to my studio. Closest guestimate wins a set of hand painted wineglasses by Yours Neurotically. (How many wineglasses can you paint?)

I am willing to bet it costs more than I spend on almost-expired food at Deals and Steals for one year. One last comment reported back by Petunia: my work does not seem to have evolved but, again, is consistently the same. Hmmm. I thought I was making great strides especially when I covered the cloth bag of the vacuum cleaner with glass by first fortifying it with fiberglass and resin and bondo and hours of careful sanding of the resulting, ever-shifting landscape/canvas. I think it is time to move on to my next career as an auto bodyist.

giant_cat.jpgAfter this post I guess I’ll not be applying for that same grant next round. But I’d rather rant than not, and I’d rather not keep spending money on stamps for applications. The money spent on a stamp would buy 2 almost-expired power bars at Deals and Steals and some days that constitutes lunch. And as I struggle to write this post with my wireless keyboard which is all wonky because it needs new batteries and which keyboard makes it bearable to use my 500$ laptop (and only computer) I find myself wondering where those next batteries are coming from.

I HAVE AN IDEA, (which means everyone should duck): Why don’t we arrange an event where grant rejects do the flip side of an application review? Why don’t we do a curatorial review and invite all the curators in the whole world to be the audience. This event will be free. <–No, scratch that. The curators will pay $1000 each to come and I will get caterers from non-struggling restaurants to donate fabulous food and wine and the proceeds will go to a special grant fund which will be awarded to artists of exceptional work exhibiting soul and search and wit and yet which does not fiscally afford special photography and who lack the financial means to buy professional and consistent photography? We will require tax returns and those who show no earnings because they are supported by spouses or trust funds will not be eligible. The recipients must have true and demonstrable need. I am interested in supporting the truly hand-to-mouth artists who still determinedly pursue their art because they can’t imagine not making art. And by art I mean art for art’s sake and not work altered solely to make it saleable. Amen.

I don’t know what it is like to be a curator on a grant jury. I do know what it feels like to be an artist and to struggle to afford photography. I can’t imagine having everything shot at once. I wonder if we lose sight of each other’s perspectives and the whole concept of art. I expected this rejection but I expected it on the grounds that the other applicants made better work, better suited for the aesthetic ideals and conceptual intent of the gallery and grant, not because the other applicants had better and more consistent photography.

Disclaimer: I applied for the aforementioned grant online and no stamp expenditures were incurred so any suggestion of missed lunches is false and in no way bolsters my argument.

What do you get when you make work that addresses trends in art?

Posted in Activism?, Art & Competition, Exhibits, The "Cover Me" exhibit on March 4, 2008 by Admin

I started to write a comment to the comment to the below post about the Valley Advocate article; [sic] ” I do not respect art that simply responds to a political agenda. So I guess the initial premise for the show did not intrigue me, so in fact I was glad to see a wide range of response.”, and then I decided to make my comment into a post.

In reading an article in The Arts Newspaper about shock art in The Netherlands, I came upon the following; “It was Mr Hof’s opinion that “shock art” is on its way out in the Netherlands, and that contemporary Dutch artists are now making work that is more politically and socially engaged.”

The most discussed display at Art Rotterdam was this dog which doubled up as a cat. By the artist “Tinkebell”, it was on offer for   $6,500

The most discussed display at Art Rotterdam was this dog which doubled up as a cat. By the artist “Tinkebell”, it was on offer for   $6,500.

“ROTTERDAM. Most of the discussion surrounding the ninth edition of Art Rotterdam in the Netherlands last month (7-10 February) centred around a single work of art: a taxidermied dog, which, when turned inside out, became a cat.”

I suppose this bit would suggest that artists follow trends in art (sometimes creating “shock” pieces), and then sometimes even switch trends. To me that seems a lot like engaging in a theme, for making work that is au courant could be seen as a purposeful effort toward creating work to satisfy and capture the thematic attention of the art world and its market.

And then in today’s newsletter from The Society of Arts and Crafts is this:

Upcoming Exhibitionsceramic cups with image of Batman&Robin kissing
Political Craft
May 9 – July 27, 2008
Opening Reception, Friday, May 9, 6-8pm

With the upcoming Presidential election looming, The Society of Arts and Crafts is taking its own political poll, of sorts, by inviting a select group of artists to present their current ideas on politics. Exhibited work will comment upon a broadly interpreted “politics” and will tackle issues as diverse as: the environment, consumerism, race, religion, security, sexuality, terrorism and war. Partial list of exhibiting artists: David Allyn · Ian Anderson · Sonya Clark · Michael Corney · Nuala Creed · Rod Northcutt · Richard Notkin · Bird Ross · Yumi Roth · Joyce Scott · Christian Tedeschi.


The Grant mindset do-si-so

Posted in Art & Competition on October 27, 2007 by Admin

Monday, June 04, 2007

It’s grant-rant time at the rejection-go-round.


Rejections are hard, I have established this in this blog. I got another grant rejection yesterday so today’s topic is an outward-facing inner review of just why, again. Grant rejection letters make you wonder at the validity of your work and since applications are due months before rejection letters arrive, they mark the end of a long process of balancing between hope and cynicism.

It’s like being thrown off the psychic mechanical bull at the square dance, after a long stomach-churning do-si-do of hope and faux disdain, which feels like tectonic plates heaving upwards and landing on each other in an ever-changing balancing act of daydreaming and cynicism.

“One plate meets another along a plate boundary, and plate boundaries are commonly associated with geological events such as earthquakes and the creation of topographic features like mountains, volcanoes and oceanic trenches.” ~Wikipedia

The plate boundaries are like the zones between this possibility and resignation. When applying for a grant it is important not to get ones hopes up, yet to remain optimistic. This state demarcates a plate boundary and, this is where the possibility of a psychogeological event like a meltdown, or perhaps an emotional rockslide, can occur. This is also where the creation of topographic features is possible, like a pile of confidence or a budget for professional photography. Photography is important.

*They* say that you are only as good as your worst slide. I have some really bad slides and I have some good slides. My work is huge and heavy and costly to have moved. My studio is not set up for photography and hasn’t enough room for a photographer and equipment. And then one needs to have a budget for photography.

The ABC grant people have informational talks where they show slides that are good and slides that are bad. I bet mine are shown in the bad category since I often take my own pictures for lack of ability to hire a photographer for each piece. But what about the work? I have been told by a coordinator at the ABC grant council that the work is important BUT the photography MUST be extremely professional. It must have proper lighting and be taken from the best angle and must be of utmost quality or the work is not considered. I get that. It can’t be a hack job.

I strive for these things. The pictures on my website look pretty nice. Some were taken by photographers, but not all. This makes inconsistency in my slides. Maybe there should be a grant to award photography for artists who cannot afford to have their work photographed. But then at some point is not the artistry and skill of the photographer an element of the work actually being granted? But maybe its not the photography of my work that wrote yesterday’s letter. Did I ever think of *that*? Well, yes, in my newly more-humbled than usual state.

I have decided to test this; I am going to win the lottery and then hire a team of photographers from New York City to come and spend a month shooting my work. Then I am going to apply for this grant again and report back here next year. Since this grant is not need-based my winning the lottery will not affect my application. But then I won’t need the grant. But then, maybe my ego will. Need-based grants get a wide variety of applicants too.

There are 3 types of plate boundaries; Transform boundaries (in which case the plates slide past each other like ships that pass in the night), Divergent boundaries (plates slide apart from each other like childhood friends), and Convergent boundaries (think sliding toward, like people running toward each other across a field of flowers, with a soft-focus lens).

I think my plate boundaries are divulgent because clearly I am wallowing in self-pity. But I am not whining, just *reasoning aloud* with myself.

Outsider Art vs. Terminology vs. Real Art

Posted in Art & Competition on October 27, 2007 by Admin

Because I never got my MFA and this can and possibly does (in ways never put into writing or spelled out, of course) affect my status as an artist, I am intrigued by the concept that art which does not evolve from formal training is often referred to as, “Outsider Art”. In Europe such art is referred to as “Autodidactic” and while this seems a more genteel term, it it testimony to the notion that a degree can validate the work and that there are terms which act as fences between two groups.mannequin.jpg

I have studied art my whole life but not always within the parameters of a formal degree program. I just take classes here and there and read whatever I find. This haphazardery means there are places which will not look at my work, my CV having preceded me thus trumpeting that missing batch of capital letters. Also perplexing; outsider art is often used to refer to persons working with certain materials like, glass, ceramics, and the like.

I have discussed this phenomenon with friends; preparators at prestigious museums, super-credentialed fellow artists, professors at weighty art schools, and the consensus seems to be that it is the integrity and conceptual intent of the work rather than the educational background that is of utmost importance.

So who then is making such distinctions? Well, word is that this is what some grant programs use as criteria for narrowing down applicants. And that’s another discussion best covered if one were to get jurors at granting organizations to speak anonymously.

Meanwhile my friend Chris Willingham, Adjunct professor of Art at HCC; Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, Annandale, NY, MFA Sculpture, 2000; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, BFA, Art History (Concentrations: Non-Western Art, Critical Theory), 1996, Painting, 1995; Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA, AS Art, 1991 emailed me the following in a discussion about insider vs. outsider art:

“These labels (Outsider, Folk, Naive, etc) are a mendacious attempt by the intelligentsia to recoup a perceived purity as commodity and evidence of their own of broad-minded integrity… Cultural fetishism masquerading as noblesse oblige— makes me sick. Outsider artists are not to be envied (they’re often destitute, dysfunctional or insane) and they certainly can’t be imitated; Folk and Naive artists have a mediumistic purity that emerges from the basic primitive need to make a mark and any resemblance to conventions is coincidental or an honest distortion.

My feeling is that it is disingenuous for the academy, the market or any coterie of status-seekers to drive a style into that area– it’s not authentic and in the case of those of us who know better, it devalues our own motivations and cheapens the work, not to mention the insult to true artists of other types. In a way, its like the old aesthetic argument against white people playing the blues: if you’re not born to it, you can’t do it. Of course, that’s not always true, but the relatively limited number of exceptions may prove the rule. Praise and testimony given in interpretation may be eloquent, but not authentic.

As Arthur Danto (recommended reading) the aesthetic philosopher has observed, a quotation can never be profound, or if it is, that fact owes to the conditions of the quote, the act of which itself has no intrinsic content because it functions as a stop-gap in the absence of a meaning emergent from its natural source. So I say make the work that makes your life meaningful and let others interpret it as they may– “Posterity makes the masterpiece” (Marcel Duchamp). Be yourself and be proud. In my case, I’m white and I’m lame– and when I play the blues it only sounds soulful when I’m playing with the full awareness of my limitations and go on singing anyway.”

Point taken and from a lot of formal education.

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