Saturday, August 05, 2006

More Picking at the Scab

So here are some thoughts, I have about the previous post. As you can see it's an ongoing public therapy session which is freely flowing between a lot "issues" but almost all of them relate closely to the pretty hardcore suffering that a lot of artist's are going through right now. Obviously it starts with a rant related to the pressures and inequity that faces a lot of women artists in getting their work done, getting it out there and all the trouble that seems to involve in the current system. It soon exposes a lot of the deep wounds that unite/ divide most artists. How does one keep a studio? How can one get one's work out there? etc...

Here are a few thoughts. First of all, I think that my first purpose here was to just try to expose some of the anger and pain that's out there. I think that one fundamental problem that exists is that a lot of this pain is not talked about freely. So there is an increasing lack of awarness on the part of a lot of the "power structure" of dealers, collectors and the like of what the level of pressure on artists is. I also think it's really important in that what is going on now is pretty new in that it's on a totally different level and now threatens the existence of the art world as we know it. Here and here are some more links on the subject.

Getting back to all that bitching; ( and here's some more, more, more. ) What is my opinion about it and who's side do I take. I would say that, yes I feel the artist's pain but my sympathy level is pretty low and dropping fast. The current scene of today is more than anything else the product of the choices made by artists so they have a lot to do with thier own problems now. I mean, artist's in the 1965 East Villiage or 1965 Haight Ashbury could lay some claim to being unaware of their own role in the process of urban gentrification. And also artists in the NY scene during this period could claim a high level of commercial ignorance since for the most part it wasn't a commercial scene. But with each passing year the ignorance excuse gets thinner as nieghborhood after neighborhood is revived by artists and also as the enourmous art industry develops around artists. A lot of artist's have a lot more money than me ( someone's paying for those $90,ooo MFA programs) and a lot of artists are highly skilled in a way I am not- good on computers and handy. We all know that a huge chunk of NY was fixed up by artists living on the sly in run down buildings. So my sympathy level is pretty low.

Almost all of the middle aged artist's in NY know and now resent the few artists who were smart enough to scrimp and buy thier run down rat infested buildings years ago. The fact is that they were the stupid frogs who sat and sat while they were slowly cooked. To anyone with eyes open the point of no return for Billyburg came around 1996-1997 ( which is around when Joe bought his building I think ) The issue of NY's housing shortage has been known for many years.
Artist's made this situation and now they will suffer for it.

One fact stands out in America. There are dozens of emptied out and run down cities with surplus housing and empty factory space ( I moved to one, not that it's all run down or anything ) and some are pretty big. You would think that artists would be flocking here to grasp thier last chance to have some control of thier lives. ) and you woud think that dealers who are allegedly concerned about thier artist's would be making similar moves. But for the most part this is not happening. The level of inertia is amazing and is more and more unforgivable,


Ashes77 said...

Interesting points. I always thought there was a "pick me, ooh, ooh, pick me" tone to Winkelman's commenters though I'll admit to showing (rarely) my face there.

John Morris said...

I lived in NY, but was generaly at the fringe of things and not in the scene but I think seeing the transformation of the scenes there and how they started gives me a lot of perspective.

Real art scenes to my knowledge have started from the ground up, by artists almost always at a grass roots and generally non-profit level. And that is the way a real scene should be. If it is about the art and is going to be sustainable then it has to be in a place that is sustainable for artists.

This new and gross trend of passive desperate artists cowering to dealers and collectors to survive is just wrong. It's sad but the time has come for artist's to leave NY and try to rebuild the scene someplace else in which it is cheap enough to do ones work. This time the artists know the game, buy your place and when people follow you they will play on your field.

John Morris said...

Also, as I said on Ed's blog before the only decent dealers now are the ones who are looking to move too. You saw how all the old line brooklyn galleries rushed to Chelsea, except for Pierogi which is keeping the Brooklyn space he owns and has opened an annex in Leipzig Germany. Joe is an artist and he see's that it's critical that he positions himself in an area with a strong and growing art community. The collectors will have to come to him or perhaps buy at a fair. That's the way it should be.

highlowbetween said...

Great post John. Nail on the head.
So what if you can't afford to actually move? ;)

John Morris said...

I don't really know. It's a very bad spot for a lot of people and I do want to acnowledge that NY is still so great. The question is that the trend is not your friend ( I think that's a Wall Street Thing)

The main thing i think is to be aware that there is a big problem here and to talk to all the artists you respect and trust about it and try to make some plans.

this is sort of the way i see NY now. It's sort of a really huge, huge, cow and you sort of know it's dying but it doesn't. So, the plan is to keep the thing going as long as you can and get whatever you can out of the scene that is still there. I think that spending a part of the year someplace else to work and connecting to other places is important.

Just remember- We are in an Art Boom now so like the dealers are not very motivated to get out --yet. But when that baby cracks that's when you will see the blood.

It's so sad for me to talk this way about the place i loved but It's time to kill this baby off.

John Morris said...

I want to add one last point on the od chance that someone is still reading this post.

The point is that competition is a good thing and there is a chance that the threat of it will help wake NY up. Perhaps, the city will make the needed moves to fix it's massive housing shortage and perhaps keeping the looming threat of competition is what it needs.

Let's keep up the scare.