Sunday, November 26, 2006

Some More Thoughts About Isolation

This is sort of a follow up to my "gestures have meaning", post.

Since I have been here, I have been trying to explain the level of cultural isolation and the circular dead end nature of most art careers here. What happens in Pittsburgh stays in Pittsburgh. First, I want to acknowledge that the only other place I know well, first hand is NY and that is a tough comparison. But, from what I can see, when compared to most mid sized cities, and certainly to cities with as many major cultural and educational institutions- the level of isolation disturbing. I don’t think that this is something that can be explained by lack of exhibition spaces or lack of funding because, for a city of it’s size, there is a lot of money spent. I also don’t think that a general lack of nice exhibition spaces is a major factor. In fact on a relative basis, getting into some type of show here is much easier than in most places for local artists.

The spread out and inconvenient nature of things explains a lot, as does the basic lack of marketing to people out of town ( look at how few institutions list themselves in the Mid Atlantic Gallery guide and how few images and info is on most cultural websites and the lack of web links or any kind of city wide guide. ) But, I think the “separate but equal” situation in which there are relatively few spaces that regularly mix, Pittsburgh and non Pittsburgh artists is one of the biggest factors. When, you look at exhibition spaces in most cities ( and I have looked at a lot online as well visited some ) what you see is a lot of shows – some of which are touring- that mix local and non local artists. This creates links with other cities – artist’s come to see and install their shows, and critics, writers, collectors and other artists who follow those artists pay attention to what’s going on. This interaction often leads to press attention and the chance that local artists will be invited into shows in other cities and all kinds of “buzz”. If I ask people in the art world in other cities, which places they have heard of here- they almost always know the ones that regularly show out of town artists. Quite a few NY dealers seem to know Wood Street Gallery, but few know about Space or the Center For the Arts ( though they are kind of better exhibitions spaces and bigger )

Artist’s here have to question whether this “separate but equal” system is really in their interest and what it’s full effects are. There is no doubt that on some level it may mean more exhibition space available to local artists than there might be otherwise. But, it also undermines the whole purpose of showing ones work and having it taken seriously on more than a local level.

1 comment:

marseye said...

Such a simple and cooprorative solution.Like a sweet puddle, reflecting a picture of the emmidiate invironment, and along comes a frog from some other place, makes some waves and,waala you have tadpolls! this is sweet evolution, insted of stanky pools festering and creating bitting buggy ugly times!