I'm begining to think i need to stop paying attention to the intractable problems of Miwlaukee's art scene. I've rode a couple times through the mutually reinforcing cycle of ineffectual organizations that ignore artists and a defeatist artist community that complains about their entitlement to support and their beleif that the work they do feeds our society's soul. I know i've got better things to do with my time.
But, i've always been drawn to apparently impossible challenges. The more intractable the problem seems the more excited i get about confronting it! Unfortunately, this enthusiasm for challenges has created a distraction from the work i've got to do (and there's lots of that: booking a tour, rehearsing for tour, workshopping King Lear, promoting the CCC show, writing essays, printing new merch, editing Ulysses Crewmen, etc etc).
Anyway, i've already followed the current manifestation (or infestation) of art world whinery (an especially infantile discussion started here, about this seemingly irrelevant blog and written the following response, so i might as well say it out loud.
I really really don't think Emily Thomas should be brought into the art community's airing of public greivances. I do appreciate Mike's using her blog post as an example, but i see it more as an example MAM's failure in it's role as a gateway to get the millions of people like her and her children invovled in art. Should our focus now be on this one individual art-viewer, or would our time be better spent looking at the art curator who has many many interactions of this kind daily? Sure, she's much easier to attack than MAM (who are probably either ignoring this conversation or fretting about how to make it go away, depending on how paranoid they are. At any rate, i highly doubt we're going to hear from them) but what good does attacking her do?
Seems to me what Mike's post illustrates is that we're in the present situation (underfunded arts and art-education programs) because MAM and others have failed in their responsibility as gateway to the art world. This failure happened in the past. Perhaps MAM and other orgs coulda done more and better (probably) but perhaps even if if they had, this kind of failure was unavoidable (probably).
I don't care all that much about that, i'm concerned with the present situation: the gateway is broken, from the perspective of the millions of Emily Thomas's, the art world is an insular cluster of increasingly irrelevant and inexplicable artists and curators, doing offensive pornography. The questions we should be asking are not: who is this one individual woman, how did she come to her views on art, how can we change her mind. If we spend ten minutes thinking about it, take an honest look at the art world, it's not hard to infer the answers, and to even sympathize with Thomas. Oh, and liscensing parentage is not only an absurd joke, it's also offensive and stupid because it focuses on regulating and controlling "them" rather than on what "we" can do to change things.
Yes, the questions should be directed at us, at artists. MAM etc failed in the past and now we're in a situation that MAM and the NEA and the CA and the GMC and the great HOPE we just elected president CANNOT fix, even if they tried (and i'm sure they are trying, however muddleheadedly). Now we can either bitch at them while it remains broken, or WE can try to fix it.
Seems to me the question we ought to be asking is: we are YOU doing as an artist to connect with the non-art community, or accross artistic disciplines? If each individual artist can answer that question with a few successful projects, then the ineffectuality of the CA, GMC, MAM, NEA etc etc etc becomes irrelevant.
Or maybe not... maybe i'm a naive optimist. Maybe groups like hotcakes, Theatre X, etc etc did successfully reach accross disciplines and to a non-art audience for a couple years (or decades) and then failed anyway due to lack of community and institutional support. Well, actually... that is what happened. Looks like my efforts are really just repeating their failures. Then, I am a naive optimist, but I guess i'd rather be optimistic about my and my neighbors' ability to change things than pin false hopes on organizations and institutions that i know ain't ever gonna change.
5 days ago