Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Do the Work (link)

The idea that artists should just work hard and all good things will accrue is a simple notion. Tell the mother of three small children that she should stay up all night while the babies sleep and paint. Tell the high school art teacher that they should paint all weekend after teaching aspiring young artists how to draw and their families want to go shopping or go to a soccer game. Most artists find ways to survive and make what they can with the resources they have, emotionally and financially.

Many artists are satisfied with having their work seen in one or two juried shows per year. Others want all the fame and exposure of a NY gallery show. The support for the visual art class as opposed to Richard Florida's "creative class" is more like the other intellectual art forms have. Poetry is a good example. No one judges a Steven King thriller against a young poet. Poetry Society All art has competition to be the best or the newest or the most popular. Each individual artist sets their own goals and have their own voices that are their sole authorship. Some may feel like they are doing a hobby while others fight to be regarded as professional, selling their work. Just like there are street mechanics and large dealerships people "do what they have to do" to many who have no wealthy family to support them they work to live. Many of the artists I've known over the years became teachers, designers, illustrators and film editors all to find a means to be creatively employed. I know just as many artists who have sold real estate, worked as social workers and in sales while supporting their families. They all do the work of survival.

A small percentage of artists get the opportunity to sell their work in galleries. What other profession would be happy that 95% of the college graduates in their field had dropped out after ten years? For every artist listed in the Art in America Gallery Guide there must be nine more who struggle to find creative fulfillment. They pay to enter juried exhibits like Woodmere Art Museum and Cheltenham to find an audience for their talent. They take classes at Mainline Art Center or at PAFA to feed their need for growth and discovery.

Everyone knows that Chuck Close or Audrey Flack are the leaders of their forms of art. They and the many others of their level seem to be doing well. How many of the top 1000 artists earn anywhere what a top doctor or lawyer does? How many artists earn what a corporate executive does? Are "artists wages" really a badge of honor and intellectual integrity? I once was told that I should be honored to be in an exhibit. I felt that they should be honored to have my work in their exhibit. I guess it all depends on which side of the looking glass your on. The question posed by LINC seems to be: are artists in need? That alone should speak to the notion that artist might be doing the work and still could do more. I don't know how many artists apply for the PEW grants but I for one could sure use a $50,000 investment in my dreams.


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