Through art we find nature. As summer approaches, how and where will we be able to breathe? We will shift, but which way? Around the world images of a much cleaner planet pile in as our own footprint shrinks. We must take notice and follow the path Earth is showing us.
Artist Lee Carlman Riddell painted a lone Amur Maple, shown above, that had been growing and flourishing near her urban home in downtown Jackson.
“I loved the playful shape of this tree against Clara Bush’s white fence; I made several pen drawings of the branch structure, and then refined that structure based on the feeling of the design more than accuracy. I remember how much fun it was to place the shape on the canvas, mix the colors and use brushwork to celebrate this miracle of nature,” recalls Riddell.
Guided by nature and intention, we’ll find our way back.
Our country tends to view art as a luxury. One lesson Europe has for us is that art must be considered an important economic component.
As Artnet news editors Tim Schneider and Kate Brown underlined in their recent webinar, art is a critical unifying societal force. When you think about on line pop-up events taking place around the globe, virtually all are utilizing visual, literary and performing arts.
Keeping creative networks intact is important psychologically ~ Tim Schneider
At once confirming and confounding, the Artnet “Watercooler Chat” webinar session with Schneider and Brown was pretty wobbly and unscripted. Doors opened that ultimately couldn’t be walked through. But hey, we’re not the masters of our domain these days, and we’re all experimenting. In this post we share highlights from that session, which lasted about 45 minutes.
Interspersed are Sue Sommers’ photographs of the Wyo Women exhibition now on view at The Nic in Casper, Wyoming.
SIZE, PERSPECTIVES, PARADOX
Keeping creative networks intact is important psychologically.
As a billion dollar industry, art is not necessarily equated with people. Our government takes the view that money “is something to be shoveled into an inanimate structure,” which somehow functions independently of human beings. Is the way money is funneled through the arts industry outdated? Artists are a huge part of the gig economy, and those gigs include creative p.r., art criticism and art handling. In Germany, where the arts are receiving a multi-billion dollar support injection, the view is that so much creative income has been lost that cherry picking is inappropriate; the country’s immediate goal is to keep arts from shutting down, and taking care of the arts as a whole.
In the Jackson Hole region, big galleries are OUR galleries—all the brick and mortar galleries you see in town and elsewhere in Teton County. We have our own metrics about the price of art; but inside large metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, our galleries are often unknown (save for a selection of Western art collectors). Artnet’s Schneider complained that during his years as a gallery staffer he often had to angle for payment installments on works that he considered “easy art,” i.e., art that cost in the neighborhood of $6,000.
Whatever he inadvertently revealed about himself, Schneider’s art vignette is meant to illustrate how hard it is for galleries to make their case and receive government support. In order to do so they must document a crisis-caused 25% income loss or more; without revenue ledgers listing regular payments, galleries are sunk.
But, the Jackson Hole Art Blog commented, the situation is the same for solitary creatives. How can they make their cases for sustained revenue loss?
“I have to be careful on this because I don’t want to act like I’m the authority on all these nitty-gritty details; I think it depends partly on whether artists are incorporated as small businesses,” Schneider responded. “This gets into a level of bureuacracy that I don’t want to get into in too much depth because I don’t want to risk telling people something that’s wrong…the best thing that I would say is…if you’re concerned whether you’re eligible, contact the people who are in charge.”
Schneider went on to make the point that in the United States, policy makers take exception to corporate funding for art because for-profit funding connotes corruption. But he makes the very good point that to benefit from these forgivable loans, artists’ creativity needs to be structured like a small business, and they ARE small businesses.
If we need to begin again from scratch, how will we deal with what hasn’t been serving us? We must be brave enough to say what works and what doesn’t. Anything helps, but sharing and ‘liking’ what we see on line—does this help what we’re truly dealing with? This is an economic crisis. A selection of galleries and artists can make it through thanks to a cadre of dedicated collectors (who may not want to be buying right now, but who are to keep the arts above water).
You can’t have 10,000 people in a Zoom room, that’s for sure. ~ Kate Brown
Some galleries are allowing outside artists to sell on gallery platforms. Finding ways of banding together so that artists and galleries are not on their own trying to fight their way through this is a possible positive outcome. In crisis situations like this, such ties are invaluable. Kate Brown’s silver lining was that Berlin’s quick response to the arts bodes well for the health of the arts in her country; we have a pregnant pause, and it’s a chance to make positive reevaluations.
Less need for fairs going forward? Mega dealer David Zwirner is all about fewer fairs.
Schneider underlined that having fewer art fairs should be, and will be, the trend. That’s another element. People have been talking about the need to do fewer fairs for several years.
“You’ve had some of the biggest galleries saying there either needs to be fewer fairs or we’re just going to stop doing so many of them. I think that’s probably right. There’s now something like 300 art fairs a year, and it’s too many. Eventually there won’t be enough galleries or collectors to support them. We’ll see a concentration where the biggest fairs stay viable, but some of the smaller regional fairs will go by the wayside. That’s going to be a natural development. Crisis situations are accelerators. Anything that’s begun to slide will now slip forward much more quickly. So many events have been postponed or shunted to the back side of the year, and now we have this crazy number of events that are supposed to happen in the span of just a few months (Schneider is referring to the large auction houses May sales and other NYC spring/summer events). And I don’t see how it can possibly go forward. If you have four fairs happening in the same month that usually would happen during four different months how do you distribute your labor? How do you distribute the work? Which do you go to, which do you drop? We’re starting to make those choices already, in miniature. We have to.”
ART IS SENSORY
Brown finished by saying that the potential of art being completely on line remains to be seen.
“Because people will like shaking hands again after this, like walking around sculpture again. And a lot of reasons people enjoy going to events is that they are networking opportunities, you meet new people! You might not even be there to view art! You can’t have 10,000 people in a Zoom room, that’s for sure.”
As promised, Pinedale artist-writer Sue Sommers has penned a penetrating review, “Art as Antibody: Six Wyo Women at the Nic,” for Wyofile. Sommers’ art descriptions are so in-depth; following her mind’s eye as it takes in any exhibition is an educational delight. Her closing paragraph about the Nic’s place and mission in Wyoming is particularly valuable to any person or group planning for an arts future in our state.
“In this suite of exhibits, the Nicolaysen demonstrates a level of excellence I hope it sustains and grows. The museum represents high-quality infrastructure and an enormous community investment. Yet ups and downs with its funding, staffing, and programing have recurred like the tide for many years,” writes Sommers. “At its best, the Nic is the cultural jewel in the center of our state, where well-designed, well-promoted programs from across the Rocky Mountain region excite and enlighten us, and where every Wyoming artist aspires to have a solo show. This is not a small thing. In this role, it could help Casper and Wyoming weather the future.”
Finally, congratulations to Laramie, Wyoming artist Dan Toro on winning the mural commission for Jackson’s Snake River Brewing Company! Man, those Laramie mural artists rock! Toro’s design was chosen from a field of 77 artist submissions. If our mountain weather cooperates, work on the mural will begin later in May. www.jhpublicart.org