It's the big, red, neon-flashing woolly mammoth in the middle of the room that everyone ignores. How they manage to do this I don't know.
It centers on this ... Why are most art galleries nearly empty most of the time? Why are most artists only part-time? Why are many art institutions always in desperate need of funding? Why don't most schools have arts education programs?
I could go on, but you catch my drift. It seems like from day one, the days of cavemen drawings, art has been hotwired and functioning on a wing and a prayer. My guess is that even the cavemen wanted a more civilized form of self-expression, but they gave up and said, "Screw it!" and took to carving on cave walls.
At some point, it became completely acceptable to treat art and culture like an unwanted stepchild. Who started this? Certainly not those engaged in the actual worlds of art and culture. But here's the problem. Over time, the art and culture communities just accepted it and now it's the norm. They didn't completely give up. They simply became shrinking violets.
I live in a city with a respectable art community, but it's the most quiet, mousy bunch of people I've NEVER seen. Where ARE they? Oh, I know. They must be busy in their hovels anesthetizing themselves with dog chasing tail questions about the obscurities of little known art genres … or perhaps they’re secretly hoarding away the most treasured pieces for their private collections that they’ll later donate to museums bearing their names ... or maybe they’re plotting an art world takeover that’ll involve Marc Chagall’s earliest and ugliest paintings.
It just seems to me that contemporary art is going the way of the wooly mammoth. And this isn't because contemporary art isn't important, valid and relevant. It's because so few people seem to be standing up for it. Is anyone really fighting for it? If so, WHAT are they doing?
I mean, I see LOTS of people trying to get things OUT of contemporary art - namely making money. However, I don’t see many folks giving TO it. I don’t hear many people actually advocating on its behalf.
The art world has a big public relations problem. The general public basically judges contemporary art by its worst deeds rather than its best. You know, they see gold-plated feces over-conceptualized as “art” and they run in the other direction.
My issue is that gold-plated feces can indeed BE art, but it’s often left there to fend for itself without any explanation. And those who do explain simply won’t break out of their ridiculous “art speak” long enough to actually pay art the favor of being real. These insist on perpetrating and preserving mystery through over-intellectualization.
Hey, I just used a BIG word. Did you notice?
In other words, far too many people in the art world are cowards. Yes, you heard me …
COWARDS. Nobody speaks up. Yes artists, I'm talking about you as well.
In my book, cowards are to blame for terms like, "Artsy Fartsy" or "My four- year-old can do that!" When people say things like this, someone should correct them. People need to be TAUGHT that art is not a joke. Yes, art can be comical, but it’s not a joke.
Somewhere down the line, we lost our way, didn't we? Contemporary art remains BIG today, but most people see it the same way they view a woolly mammoth exhibit in a museum. They look at it and think ...
“Yeah, okay. Wow.” “Hey John, let's go to the Apple Store when we're done here!”
In short, contemporary art couldn't be more relevant today and yet for most people, it has the same relevance to their lives as a woolly mammoth. They’re fascinated for a moment, but then, they’re over it. SO over it.
And where's the art community on this issue?
They’re WAY over there in the corner … riding the other woolly mammoth.