Friday, February 27, 2009

Bauble Making Workshop

Last night, I attended Cindy Royal's bauble making workshop at Soulard Art Market. Cindy had previously done a paper-making demo for the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art, and many members had enjoyed reusing unwanted paper to create unique artworks. Like the Women's Caucus demo, the workshop offered last night was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to be uninhibitedly creative.

There was a small but spunky group of five of us, and we each made different pieces of varying sizes and functions using a wide assortment of materials and glue. Cindy provided some pre-painted surfaces as well as some molded forms for everyone to use, along with countless other found objects, beads, laminate sample chips, string, wire, buttons, jewelry bits and more. Artworks could be adapted for use as wall-hangings, necklaces, magnets or pins. Check out the Primadonna magnet that I made using a molded polymer clay face, string and some jewelry pieces on a Formica laminate sample chip. I am planning to work more into it and edge it with some trim, but you get the general idea.

Cindy is hoping to host another bauble making workshop sometime in the future, and I would highly recommend attending, especially if you are interested in found object artworks and in helping the environment by finding creative ways to reuse things that may otherwise be thrown away. And it's a great way to make some unique and eclectic gifts for those people who already have everything.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Performance Art Coming Up Next Week

I will be performing Bitch in the upcoming Women & Environment show at Florissant-Valley Community College. This piece is intended to raise awareness of the plight of puppy mill dogs while also commenting on the limitations imposed upon us through the implications of derogatory language. Since this is an endurance piece, it is my intention to perform this piece as much as possible during the exhibition (barring physical & mental distress and unexpected schedule conflicts), so please feel free to stop by during gallery hours from March 6 - 31 if you cannot make it to the opening reception. Information about the show is as follows:

Women & Environment
St. Louis Community College - Florissant-Valley
3400 Pershall Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63135-1408
Gallery, Instructional Resources building Room 111
March 2 - April 2, 2009
Reception: March 5, 6 - 8 PM
Gallery hours: Monday - Friday, 10 AM - 4 PM and Saturday, 10 AM - 3 PM
It is my intention to perform the piece as much as possible from March 6 - 31.
Note: my Window Into Eden piece will also be displayed in the show.

In addition to the performance art piece, I will be participating in a panel discussion, also on March 5.

Voices: Contemporary Women Artists
St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley
3400 Pershall Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63135-1408
Humanities building, Room 112
Panel Discussion: March 5, begins at noon
Moderated by WCA-STL President Lisa Becker
Featuring artists:
Dail Chambers
Pat Owoc
Roxanne Phillips
Jennifer Weigel

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This Week

I haven't been hyping up what I'm doing all that much here, mainly because I use the blog more as a means of working through my thoughts. But as I am trying to get better about promoting myself, I do try to mention what I'm doing when it occurs to me and when I'm not too busy to think. If you really want to see everything I'm involved in, please feel free to check out the Current & Upcoming Shows sidebar to the left for a general idea.

I just found out last night that Caught was accepted into the Altered Realities show at Columbia Art League, juried by Mark Langeneckert. The show occurs in celebration of Columbia's True/False film festival which is a big draw, so it is a real honor to be included.

Altered Realities
Columbia Art League
207 S. 9th St.
Columbia, MO 65201

Feb. 24 - March 28, 2009
Reception Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, 6 - 8 PM
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance, and this, and not the external manner and detail, is true reality." - Aristotle

Monday, February 23, 2009

Critique Groups

Art Saint Louis recently formed up several critique groups so that artists can get feedback on their work. Groups were formed based on region and the group I am in just had their first formal meeting tonight. I am psyched about it. Today was a chance to work through the logistics of how we would approach this and to meet one another so we didn't look at any artwork, but already I can tell that there is very good energy and a lot of insights and opinions to be brought to the table.

It is very important for artists to get feedback about their work. Too often, opportunities to do so are scarce outside of the university setting. Asking friends and those who know us well does not offer the same kind of raw insight that asking a group of lesser known people can because they have a sense of what we are trying to communicate already and can infer a lot. It is also nice to reach out and meet with people of varying disciplines and levels of expertise because they can offer different insights as well.

Friday, February 20, 2009


One of the things that I try to do the most with my blog is offer advice and camaraderie to other people in the arts. I think this is probably one of the most important aspects of my blog and one of the things that sets it apart from a lot of other art blogs out there. I could use the blog to hype up my own work and publicize myself, but it just isn't in my nature to do so exclusively. So I find myself offering my opinions regarding showing art, reflecting on that struggle, and offering advice to those who may seek it. There are numerous reasons for this.

I want to offer others advice that I wish I had gotten but didn't, especially regarding failure and success. Just starting out, it is really easy to get discouraged from all of the rejection letters. And even after one has begun to establish him/herself, any artist is still subject to rejection, from venues in which to display art, from viewers themselves, from patrons who don't like a change in style or focus... I especially think it's important that we as artists stick together and help each other out, not in the sense of doing the legwork for one another but more in the sense of helping to draw out the map. So often we pit ourselves in competition with one another and don't support each other.

I am still learning. I am still technically an emerging artist myself and am just starting to get a feel for how to piece things together in regards to getting into venues and such. And I still don't yet have any kind of handle on how to approach galleries and museums with proposals for solo shows and other endeavors. So by blogging in response to my experiences, I can create a dialogue with myself and record my thoughts and experiences so I may reference them later. I don't have all of the answers, but by putting my thoughts into writing somewhere I can better articulate how I feel about what I am doing and about how to navigate the ups and downs of this crazy career choice.

I also hope to encourage other artists to respond in kind with their opinions and advice regarding the subject at hand. I want to learn what their experiences have taught them, to see how they have come to where they are. A great way to do this is to read other artists' blogs, which I try to do whenever I have some time but tend only to manage to do irregularly within my often hectic schedule.

Essentially, blogging fills a void. I use it as a means of expressing my grievances and frustrations, as I typically do when I approach artmaking itself. I am not one to just sit and complain about things, though, as I don't tend to see the point. So I try to offer up alternatives or get myself or others thinking about different approaches that would avoid such frustrations later on. When I first started blogging, I was creating a lot of institutional critique works scrutinizing how & where art is shown, what is shown as art and who sees it. I was especially interested in the presentation of artworks (both in regards to how the artist chose to frame their work and in how the gallery or museum chose to display it), the nature of opening receptions as events unto themselves, and a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in regards to showing art. Although I am still working on and with institutional critique and am planning a show of my institutional critique works for later in the year, I have found myself venting many different frustrations in much of my work, returning to identity and gender issues, environmental concerns and philosophical quandaries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Self-Motivation & Fearlessness

I have written a lot about failure, rejection, self-censorship, and setting goals. But I cannot even begin to reiterate how important it is that we, as artists, are self-motivated and learn to cope with rejection. I see so many other artists fall victim to their own insecurities, and I experience it myself as well when I procrastinate working in my studio.

Artists must be extremely self-motivated in order to make it. There is no free ride - there are too many talented people and too much information for any one artist to be noticed if he/she isn't actively trying to get his/her work and name out there. But being an artist is also inherently risky. We have to take a lot of chances and learn to face rejection. When first starting out, we take chances when we submit our work to shows. As we become better known and more established, we take chances when we deviate from our signature styles to experiment with new media and methods. We take chances when we work to develop our own styles. We take chances each and every time we show our work - will it sell? will people like it? will people get it? will people come to see it?...

There is a certain fearlessness required to being an artist. Many people are afraid of rejection. They are afraid of drawing attention to themselves. They are afraid to make their presence felt. But actively-exhibiting artists must not only deal with rejection, they must be able to do so in the public sphere. Not only do they have to be able to cope with not getting into shows that they have applied for, they also have to cope with viewers rejecting their work even after it was accepted for any given show (sometimes including other artists who may be bitter that their own artwork was not accepted). Some dislikes are very strong, and some viewers are very open in voicing their negative opinions loudly. At the same time, artists also have to cope with apathy and with people who just don't get their work, some of whom really don't care that they don't get it and others whom are confrontational about it. As a result, it becomes all too easy to fall into a pattern of making excuses and avoiding opportunities.

It is extremely important not to make excuses for yourself. I find myself doing this from time to time, essentially avoiding working on my own artwork. Sometimes I am legitimately uninspired and am in no state to create. At other times I may be stewing on a new idea or concept and developing a new focus in my work. Oftentimes, I just need a breather from doing too much too fast and I need some downtime. But even good and valid reasons turn into excuses when we embrace them and inhibit ourselves from creating. We can avoid working on our art for fear of making mistakes, just as we can avoid showing for fear of rejection.

Another important thing that I have found is that I must detach myself from my work. Not to the extent that I become apathetic to it myself, but to the extent that I don't take criticism personally. If artists take criticism and rejection too personally, it buries them and they get to where they limit what they do to avoid confrontation. Since a good deal of my work actively encourages people to think about and see things in different ways, it can be interpreted as confrontational itself and I often find myself having to explain what I have done and why. So I simply cannot allow myself to get defensive.

It is also important not to berate ourselves and our own work. Artists can be their own worst critics and can be extremely harsh and unforgiving of their own imperfections, especially as it pertains to their work. This is good because it means that we work hard to do our best and show our best work. But it can inhibit us from creating when we dwell on our insecurities, censor ourselves, and reject our own work before anyone else has even had a chance to see it. It never ceases to surprise me the fact that some of my least favorite pieces are among the ones to sell, but that only goes to prove that everyone has different tastes and I can be overly hard on myself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Listening to Your Art / Yourself

This post kind of revisits some of my earlier advice posts on keeping your health and yourself in mind. But today, I am going to look at this from a slightly different viewpoint, focusing on listening to one's own art and its demands.

Some artworks are inherently demanding. Many materials are difficult to work with and require the utmost care and expertise in doing so. Some pieces are large and unwieldy and their creation and transportation involve much more, both physically and otherwise. Some artworks are emotionally draining because of the messages conveyed. I recently had a performance accepted into an upcoming show that really needs to be executed as an endurance piece. I had originally planned to set up a performance schedule in accordance with the gallery, figuring that I would only be able to perform one day a week because of my hectic schedule and that I could show a video in my stead. But I couldn't help but feel as though the concept was compromised, so I rearranged my schedule around staying true to the artwork and its needs.

However, the question then arises: how far can this go before it has gone too far? How much must we give in to the conceptual demands that we place upon ourselves through our own artwork? When should we draw the line?

The first thing that must be taken into consideration is our own health and well-being. Many artists do not regard their health as anywhere near so important as it should be. But there is no artwork worth compromising one's health over - especially if it means doing so to such an extent as to inhibit oneself from creating any artwork ever again. Granted, accidents happen. But some hazards are avoidable. Always be sure there is adequate ventilation and listen to your body for signs of distress when you are placing large demands upon it. Does this mean that we should give up what we are doing because it is harmful? Not necessarily, but we should make sure to treat our materials with respect and to do our best to be aware of their consequences and effects (not just on ourselves but on those who love and respect us). So many artists have died from working with hazardous and carcinogenic materials in adverse conditions for extended periods of time, and so many others are forced to endure painful complications from overuse of certain muscles due to repetitive motions... As we come to better understand what we are working with and how our work affects us, we should make every effort to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to create art.

Secondly, we need to consider the effects that working on our artworks are going to have on our lives. Will artmaking potentially isolate and alienate us from friends, family and those we hold dear, preventing us from maintaining healthy relationships? Will it encroach into our other day-to-day responsibilities, such as taking care of family or working the jobs we hold to pay the bills (if one must hold another job to do so)? Remember, it is the artist who controls this. Using art as an excuse to avoid social situations or to shirk responsibilities doesn't in and of itself actually solve any problems, especially when the problems themselves are not acknowledged. I am not mentioning this to encourage others to procrastinate on their art or to put their passions on the back burner; I am trying to communicate to those (like myself) who would bury themselves in their artwork so to avoid other situations.

Creating art can be very cathartic and can encourage us to grow and better understand ourselves, but it can also become consuming by offering a means of avoiding confrontation. Allow yourself the freedom to vent what you need to through your art as a means of healing, but don't simply hide within it so that you can avoid your problems as this can cause new problems all their own. I have found that it can help to acknowledge whatever I am coping with in my artwork and to use my art as a means of working through it. But I have also found that I must strike a balance and monitor myself lest I allow it to consume me. Thus I find it best to have other activities outside of art and to maintain friendships and relationships outside of the art world to offer other perspectives.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Mass-Emailing Others About Your Work

I don't mass-email people very often (pretty much hardly at all). So hadn't really looked into blind cc-ing people when I have, mainly because I didn't know how (it is not intuitive as far as my mail server goes) and because I trusted the people on my list which is relatively short and consists of friends and family.

But apparently this is an issue, due to a couple of factors. I hadn't thought about any of my messages potentially being forwarded. I've also since learned that a particular person on my email list is adding my contacts to their listservs without asking. I wouldn't mind so much if this person would send out a teaser email first to see if the recipient wants to be added, but they do not do so.

From a professional standpoint, I recognize that I have been in the wrong for being too trusting and for potentially compromising others' information. I plan to blind cc everything now (having now figured out how to do so), especially anything that goes out to said person or to a large list where the recipients do not all know one another. However, I also find it extremely unprofessional on behalf of the person who is adding people to other email lists without asking. There are a lot of people out there who do so; it isn't good practice and could actually get you and whomever you stole the contact from in trouble.

I really wouldn't recommend piggybacking on others' email contacts if you want to keep those contacts that you already have and to stay in the loop. But if you insist on doing so anyway, you really ought to send out a teaser email first to test the waters and see if the recipients are interested. Many may be and will gladly sign up, and you are less likely to anger those who are not if you just ask first. Above all else, don't just blindly add contacts to lists that do not have unsubscribe features - that will only serve to irritate a lot of people who do not want to receive your emails (including some who signed up themselves and then changed their minds).

Again, this comes back to communication. Remember, you do not personally know these people and their interests. They may not only not want to be added to your list and, in some cases (especially involving anything centered around politics, religion and/or sex), those people may even be offended that they were included because the content goes against their moral/ethical code. So ask permission first.

I guess I just really don't understand this at all because I don't subscribe to the philosophy of "just do it and ask forgiveness later". This can and will get you into trouble. This idealogy bespeaks a lack of professionalism and common courtesy and can alienate and anger more people than the perceived gain is worth - the cost is much higher than you likely realize. It is always best to know what you're dealing with beforehand and to take responsibility for yourself and your actions before you act. Besides, you may be surprised. Often if you're honest and work it out beforehand, you'll find that you are granted a lot more permissions to do things than you thought you'd be. All because you asked, and all while not burning any bridges.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Claude Sees Old Farm Equipment

While we were at the Longmeadow Rescue Ranch, we enjoyed a display of old farm equipment. We didn't take any photos with any of the animals, though, because Claude didn't want to spook them.

Claude Goes to the Longmeadow Rescue Ranch

Claude and I braved the cold today to visit the Humane Society of Missouri's Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, Missouri so we could visit our barnyard buddy Pepe. (Chuck had sponsored Pepe as a Christmas gift.)


Chuck & I saw Coraline in 3D Thursday evening. The story, written by Neil Gaiman, is wonderfully creepy with numerous references to old mythology and fairy tales. The cat character was my favorite due to Gaiman's excellent capturing of particular cat traits, namely the fact that cats do as they please and want to be wherever they are least wanted. In the movie, the cat character travels between both the alternate dimension and the real world for precisely these reasons.

For all that 3D technology has come a long way and the effects were very well done, I don't know that the movie utilised the technology to its best advantage. The whole experience was still much more voyeuristic and didn't immerse the viewer in the action as much as one might expect from a 3D movie. I also don't know that I would consider the movie appropriate for really young children as it is a bit spooky, but the message imparted is good for people of all ages in that it encourages us to appreciate what we have, to really scrutinize those seemingly silver-lined clouds, and to question if the grass on the other side of the fence really is greener. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would recommend it to any other animation / Gaiman / fairy tale fans out there.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on Inclusion

I have spoken about the idea of inclusion a lot before. I love to see diversity celebrated in the arts. I strongly believe in encouraging as many different people and groups with as many different visions as possible. But I want to reiterate that no one group or institution should expect to fulfill all roles by itself. It is not in any group's best interests to even desire to do so. It is possible for a group or institution to take the idea of inclusiveness too far.

How so? Well, groups and institutions benefit from having focus. Obviously said focus should differ from organization to organization so that each one can fulfill a different need. But the focus is important because it bespeaks a commitment to a specific vision. As a result, the members and supporters of that organization will be aware of, value and want to promote that vision (otherwise they would not have become members). However, if an institution tries too hard to encompass everyone's needs and wants then, for all that the membership may be huge, those involved are likely to grow more and more apathetic due to the fact that the group isn't playing any specific role.

I personally find this true of philosophical and ideological pursuits as well. When an ideal or vision is interpreted to be too encompassing it can become diluted because it doesn't entirely speak for those who would embrace it fully. It merely encompasses a multitude of visions and ideals without really giving a strong and vibrant voice to any one. Granted, no one ideal should be too limited or to be so strict as to be impossible to adhere to. But by combining and fusing too many ideologies into one all-encompassing vision, those people who follow any particular set of ideals may find that they are not as passionate about that vision because it doesn't really speak to and for them.

I like the idea of wholeness and of things being all-encompassing, but we as humans tend to see the specificities first. We have thrived in part due to our abilities to connect with specifics and to categorize things so that we don't have to "rediscover the wheel" on an ongoing basis. But as a result, when we try to include too many views in any one ideology, we can actually alienate those who hold said views because they don't see or embrace the same "big picture".

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Counting the Hours

I was recently reading Mary Beth Shaw's 10,000 Hours post and it got me thinking a lot about what goes in to really mastering something. We do live in a culture where instant gratification reigns supreme and we hate to wait for things. A lot of people become easily frustrated when things don't go as they want. And I'll readily admit to doing so myself. Thus many of us don't want to take the time to truly master something.

It's funny though, just how much patience differs from person to person and what we are willing to take the time to do. Perhaps this is somehow related to mastery as well? In letting go of control, by accepting what we are doing in the moment rather than trying to impose our will on whatever it is we are trying to do, we can achieve a different kind of mastery. The time spent no longer matters because we exist in the moment. Mary Beth Shaw expressed this sentiment thusly:

I revel in the process, the journey, hour after hour. Creating layers one at a time. Building texture. Feeling the paint, watching it dry, playing with dripping ink. It's what I do; it's who I am. I have many many more hours to travel.

I think that taking the time to develop a skill is important, but I also think that there is a different sense of one's own ability and achievement that is attained when time is no longer relevant. When we aren't counting the hours and we're allowing ourselves to live in the moment of what we're doing and to just do it. To simply be. Perhaps true mastery evolves in part from our spending enough time to learn something so that we no longer feel a need to count the hours...

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Still Don't Want to Be an Island

I have blogged on numerous occasions about competition in art. Recently, a well-known artist posted some advice to critical mass regarding informing others of opportunities, revealing that he felt many artists keep this info. to themselves because they have probably worked hard to make their own connections in the community. I must say that I personally find this unfortunate, because I still strongly believe that the art community is strengthened when we collaborate and cooperate for the betterment of all involved.

However, the artist giving advice was doing just that - trying to strengthen the art community by strengthening those in it. The advice itself was very good and provided a lot of insights, as the author went on to say that you should never expect a free ride and should expect to do the leg work to get where you want to be. It is something that word of mouth and foot work have a lot to do with. Other excellent points included how imperative it is for artists to approach endeavors and opportunities professionally and to take responsibility for themselves, make their own connections and foster their own relationships.

I agree entirely that we artists each need to come into our own and make our own ways. We better understand what is expected of us, our work and our professional practice when we forge our own paths. But I still prefer not to think myself an island and to reach out to my comrades with advice when I can do so. In this case, I directed the artist seeking advice to several local organizations that may help to serve his needs and foster a better understanding of how to approach opportunities on his own. He still has to do the leg work and establish his own contacts and reputation, but now he has some more resources to do so.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dance Dance Revolution

We just got Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) for the Nintendo Wii and it is a riot. We thought this would be more fun than being berated by Wii Fit's balance board icon, based on what people have said about that, and would offer some means of exercising in the house. And since I can't dance for crap, I don't dance in public. (It's bad enough with just my loving husband laughing at me.)

At any rate, it's a lot of fun for all that it's kind of cheesy. You step on the pad in sequence as movements pan up, kind of like hitting the notes in sequence in Guitar Hero. (If you've never seen Guitar Hero, I'm sure that makes no sense, but I can't think of any other way to describe it.) The music is okay and there are even some songs I like, which says a lot considering I don't listen to much techno or dance music.

The best part is that you can unlock your Miis and that they can dance. It is hysterical. I wish that Rock Band and Guitar Hero worked the same way - it would be so funny to have your Miis in the band...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Off the Wall article

I was featured in the Southeast Missourian for my installation at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. Chris Harris wrote a lovely article on installation art featuring some wonderful photographs of my Dutch Elm Disease piece by Kit Doyle. A photograph of my work was even included on the front cover of SE Live: Arts & Entertainment Guide.

Off the wall: Art installations at local galleries encourage audience participation

Claude Goes to Cape Girardeau

Yesterday Claude went to Cape Girardeau, where he saw the murals along the levee wall.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I just found a file labeled "gripe". Apparently I wrote this some time ago, although I don't now recall why. It was probably written in response to how many art institutions rely on volunteers to get things done and to me being asked to freely give my time or money to some cause, group or organization. I find that it is still relevant and delves into a lot of issues I perceive of in showing art, especially as pertains to patronage and valuing art and artists. So I will post it here. I don't know how to resolve many of these issues, so I would welcome other points of view on this. And I don't know how relevant this really is - perhaps I am just overly jaded. And perhaps some of this will change with the new Presidency, at least in regards to some of the funding and budget cuts and lack of incentives.

It seems to me that what is regarded as worthwhile (in regards to what is touted as good and shown in major institutions) has become so alienating to the general public that many would-be patrons have turned from the arts entirely. And it seems that now that a lot of grant monies and government support have been cut, a lot of art opportunities are disappearing entirely or are becoming even more limited.

Commercial galleries have become ultra-commercialized, sometimes favoring better known artists from big name cities or exotic faraway lands whose works they think they can better sell. In order to compete, those galleries that do show local artists cannot take any chances on the types of work that they show, choosing artists primarily on the basis of marketability. Many non-profit galleries, due to the loss of funding, have had to rely on extorting money from the artists themselves in order to survive and offer opportunities to those same artists. Other venues are constantly being explored and are becoming more and more popular, from creating art out in the public sphere to showcasing work in other area businesses, but I don't know just how many sales or how much name recognition actually results from these sorts of endeavors.

And the art world has become even more limited in regards to arts education as well. Those who wish to pursue a career in art are at a great disadvantage if they have not studied and absorbed all sorts of modern movements, and many people are just not exposed to those movements unless they choose a career in art to begin with. There are so many changes and so many new artists and ideas that an educational background in modern and contemporary art is outdated almost as soon as one graduates if not even before then, depending on where he/she studied. But most people who do not choose art careers know little about modern art. Public school programs teaching art and stressing its importance have been drastically cut and continue to be cut as time progresses. Thus, the gap in knowledge between those who are studying and involved in arts education and the general population is widening at a dramatic rate. And the less that the general population understands about modern art, the less important funding arts programs becomes to those same people. So it cycles around, and arts education programs are cut yet again as taxpayers vote not to support art that they don't understand.

As a result, there is an overall lack of exposure among people who are not already involved in or who have not seriously studied art. Partly, this is just the end result of the culture that we live in: many go about the day-in-day-out drudgery of their existences without ever becoming much aware of what is actually going on in the world around them. They go to work and go home, watch TV, surf the Internet and read the paper, but seldom do much outside of their regular routines. Simply put, they don't have or make time to do so. And many individuals' regular routines don't seem to include being involved in the city in which they live. Granted, there is an influx of people moving into the downtown area and livening it up some, but I wonder, as they start to develop their own routines, will they want to be involved in the arts or will they feel that it has little or nothing to offer to them? That depends on how we market ourselves as a community of artists more than anything else.

But for all that the lack of exposure is partly a result of an overall cultural acceptance of an apathetic lifestyle, I think that the art world hasn't been doing itself any favors either. This all cycles back to what is praised as worthwhile. Although it is good that artists can continue to be influenced by and respond to past artists and ideas, some of these movements have become so abstract that a lot of people who haven't studied them cannot and don't feel a connection to them at all. They think, "My five-year old can do that." They are unable to appreciate or understand the complexities involved in that sort of work unless they read about it and seek to learn more, something which few people will go out of their way to do. Especially with something that they feel disconnected from, that they already do not understand. Modern and contemporary art movements simply aren't being taught to those who haven't made a conscientious decision to go out of their way to try to learn and keep up with them, and this only furthers the alienation and lack of understanding on behalf of the casual observer.

We, as artists, need to begin to touch base with the general population and relate to them in some way (we don't necessarily have to agree, cater to, or see eye to eye, just be able to communicate with one another). By all means, we should challenge and provoke, but all the while work not to drive others away and to encourage them to want to learn more and to become more involved. How is this accomplished? I don't know. But as people come to better appreciate and understand art, they are more willing to fund it and to recognize the importance of teaching art to their children. Thus their children also learn to better appreciate and understand art.

So to make a long gripe short, I am frustrated that many good art opportunities have had to rely on volunteers and have come to expect artists to freely donate their time and money to support the arts in order for those programs to survive. I don't see this happening to lawyers and accountants and doctors and engineers and chemists and computer programmers and a whole slew of other professions, who expect some sort of compensation for their time unless they decide to donate it in order to better the world in some way and not just to ensure the survival of their own career path. Is art truly so unnecessary that we must devalue ourselves by freely giving of our time and work to be able to have art?

The more that we, as artists, are willing to freely give, the more that it will be expected and even required of us to do so. Why would anyone pay somebody to do something if they can get it for free? Thus, art is regarded only more so as a philanthropist endeavor, as a hobby, and not as a valid career path in and of itself. Artists must work other jobs in order to survive and must be willing to freely donate their time and money in the hopes of furthering both their art careers and the arts organizations themselves. But, competition aside, if we all band together and try to change, to make some difference in how we perceive of ourselves as a group, perhaps we can come to better respect and understand one another and hopefully then command more respect out in the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Subverted Street Art

Here is some more fun street art that causes us to reassess how we view art and how art and technology are a part of our modern lives. We may be losing some privacy to things like Google Street View, but why not have fun in the process and mess with people's perceptions of real vs. virtual?

Artists Create Scenes for Google Maps Users

View Larger Map

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

About Blogging

I have discovered, in the process of blogging my observations and grievances, that I do not feel so strong a need to create institutional critique pieces. Not that I am no longer producing such artworks, just that they are not dominant. By nature, I tend to work with different themes and concepts in spurts, but I had been producing and developing a lot of institutional critique pieces on and off for awhile and over time they have sort of fallen by the wayside for other themes.

Granted, there are many factors at play, including the fact that institutional critique works can be difficult to get into the gallery setting. Still, I find this interesting since it seems that the blog is providing an outlet for me to express these ideas so I can focus my attention on other topics, such as feminist views, philosophical musings, environmental issues, political discourse, memory and deterioration, landscape, beauty and more.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dutch Elm Disease showing

Starting Friday, my Dutch Elm Disease installation will be on display at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau, along with some of my Memory series. The reception is this Friday from 5 - 9 PM in conjunction with the first Friday gallery walk. Please stop by and check it out if you're out that way.

February Show:

Gallery 100 - Robert Ketchens
Lorimier Gallery - Jennifer Weigel
Chapman Gallery - Visual Arts Co-Op

Exhibit: Feb. 6 - 28, 2009
Reception: Feb. 6, 5 - 9 PM, food provided by Ray's
Hours: weekdays 9 - 5, Saturdays 10 - 4

Arts Council of Southeast Missouri
32 N. Main, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701