I'm beginning to think this is the best class I've taken at UM - or maybe this class just applies to me more than any other class has thus far. Either way it has generated many side conversations in my life that have been equally as interesting as the class.Some quotes I jotted down from Fred that I really liked and I'm continuing to ponder."Art IS brain surgery. It's serious stuff and not a whim. You have to study it like they brain surgeons study or you will become the no account society says that artists are.""Not everything is art. That word is sacred.""Design that transcends and becomes sublime is art".I must admit that I began my art studies at UM as a noodling around and because it felt good. I did not see it with the passion and urgency that Fred suggests "... if you want to be a serious player in the world of art." As a matter of fact, if anyone ever referred to me as an artist I would correct them say I was an art student because I felt far from feeling accomplished until the last 6 months or so. Now Fred challenged all of us to take it up several notches and give our work a sense of urgency that I never even considered before. I like that notion. I must admit I don't know what I'm going to do that notion but I like the concept very much. It's energizing. Like the gaunlet has been thrown down.I was disapponted to find that when I questioned Fred he admitted that he has been unable to find "the cure for cancer" in his own art. I was ready to call him a hippocrit. But I reconciled that with his ability to recognize that ability and promote it in others. So I am back to considering it a possibility worth exploring for myself. At first I thought it was just another example of "do what I say and not what I do". I would rather spend the next 50 years of my life persuing things that are obtainable.Thanks Fred.Now some Triff quotes from last night I'm pondering. "The act of contemplation is an act of exorcism", "You explain the generation you are in now." "Art may have a form of awareness that religion has lost". and "Being a good artist begins with dissatisfaction".Exorcism as in demons? Or emotional release? Or dragon slaying? If we are to use Fred's advice, art is a curative, and enhancement or a life or death solution.I went to 12 years of Catholic school but I think I learned more about religion from my art history classes then I did in all the religion classes I took. I think trying to be an artist while being raised strictly in a relgion was an extra level of negative perception. Besides the notion that art was a cop out, artists in the 60s were drug abusers, sexually immoral, and political radicals. It's good to have the make your art like someone will die if you don't message that Fred brought today to counter those old ghosts.So I ask myself, am I disatisfied so that's why I'm an artist? I thought of it more like striving or seeing if there is a better way or making something my own instead of something manufactured or common. But I guess that all fits under dissatisfaction. I guess I'm stuck with that negative notion for now.
Saw the "Bodies" exhibit at Sunset Place on Sunday afternoon. We waited about 30 minutes in line for tickets. The entrance lines were very long by the time we left around 2.I must say it's amazing visually. It's also gut wrenching at times to see fellow humans filleted in various arrangements so that we can see them sooo - intimately is not the word - pehaps "inside outimately" describes it better. The exhibit may answer the question "how many ways can a human being be sliced up in imaginary fashion".The ones that are arranged like happy little cadavres - kicking a ball or doing a happy spin with a friendly skeleton I took as most offensive to their humanity. I found after while I had to look less closely at each display because I was definitely feeling affected by it all. It made me wish I was vegetarian again.I tried to detach emotionally and stand back and look at it all as how the human body is an amazement of creation. It might sound sappy but then I did I thought to myself there is absolutely nothing I've seen in this life that makes me more want to shout this is proof of a creator. To me the detail and the complexity of a human creature is a THE master's piece. This thought came to me in the rooms with the red arteries suspended in the lucite cubes. Our arteries are as complex and intricate as a satellite view of all the river systems connected on this planet. The exhibitors really tried to give appreciation of the design, execution, interaction of parts, engineering of the body, and it's various subsystems. They gave you many ways to absorb it all - you could be upclose so that your breath touched them or you could look more dispationately at things under glass or some were more clinical with the metal and clips used by physicians.Not easy to see. Definitely can be appreciated and offend at the same time.
For the most part, I enjoyed Fred’s lecture. I do agree that art should be viewed in a more serious manor and as a full-time job. Art can have a lot of power and change the way people think. I did not agree with him on the part of marketing your “art”. I strongly believe that business is half of making the art – selling is the rest of it. You have to promote yourself whenever possible and create a business identity and style for people to recognize you. I think that professional artist postcards are crucial for promotion of new work or exhibitions. I don’t care how many people throw them away, I don’t expect you to frame it – the point is, that it did attract some people to your show – and it only takes one person to buy the piece. How are people going to know about you without marketing? I would not have the success I’ve had thus far without marketing - shows – online galleries – etc. I can’t tell you how much inspiration I have gotten by browsing other professional artist websites – or seen a kick ass postcard that sent me to their site, where I was blown away by their photographs – or how many people have come up to me saying that they saw my website and just wanted to say “hi”.
I would have liked some examples of alternative means of promotion other than the websites and postcards. Of course these would have to be adapted to one's own situation, but it would help to a least have some ideas to modify, or even completely react against. I think the prevalence of cliched marketing devices points to the need for a formal course in art business--UM has such a course in its catalog, but has not taught it for years. Lobby for it; we have a new Chair and I think it would get a fair hearing.As far as the philosophical/psychological aspects of the presentation, there seemed to be a great deal of scrambled thinking, and I think some rather unhealthy implications in much of what was said. No, art IS not brain surgery, nor is it musical performance. It is different from both those pursuits in that it is not completed or closed as an act done in real time, and can be repeated if a mistake is made. Yes, one should approach one's life work with a sense of importance and dedication, but if one looses sight of this essential difference, it can become a burden instead of a joy. The processes are so different, that to study both with the same methods would be bizarre, as would be to deny that one's owm personality plays a legitamate role in choosing which sort of work to engage in. I enjoy the fact that I can, as an artist, stop at almost any point and contemplate what I am doing, something a brain surgeon or opera singer can't. Another comment I take exception to was his statement that "art is not catharsis, its fixing things!" What things are not specified, nor is how art does this specified. Worse, it implies that there are only two possible motivations for the act of creation, and one is not good--again why is not stated, but if its in line with the collectivist mentality that seemed to hover over the remarks (i.e., responsibility of artist to society). then the implication is that art that has an element of self pleasure is inferior.I also marvel at this individual's ability to determine motivation of art critics--he says that the proponents of minimalist/abstract art know what they are talking about; they have no intent to lie or deceive. I don't know how he can possibly claim to know the interior mental states of eveyone involved in these areas of the art world. An then, further on he speaks of the need to sometimes manipulate the system! Isn't deceit, including false statements of one's motivation, a sometime tool of deceit??These comments are not argue with Snitzer's success or his clearly demonsstrated ability in the area of the art world he has chosen to operate in. But he did present himself on two levels-one as a gallerist expounding on the system he operates under, but also as a theorist. It's the later that should be open to being critiqued by those, like myself, who find themselves in opposition to his ideas; his methods in the former would be the place for those who hold the same standards as he does to comment on.I think I'll pass on the conception of art here--and enjoy what I do, the act of making my work, the act of comtemplating it, and hopefully the material rewards of it someday. And without one drop of guilt if no grand problems of society are "fixed"!!
A further thought--its true that he did speak of solving design problems, transceding form, etc...yet there seemed to be a gap between these acheivements and the elevation of art as a profession; I didn't hear that a case was made for why this was as valuable as brain surgery to society at large. It seems that these things, if well done, do give the artist as sort of catharsis, of self pleasure, with the benefit to society being secondary. There is perhaps a confusion between responsibility--at an individual intellectual level, that is self directed yet judged by society--and the holding of the primary responsibility as doing something FOR society. The former I accept, the later I do not, and ultimately I am not sure what Snitzer's own view is here.
After hearing several negative opinions of Snitzer from other artists, I didn’t know what to expect, but resolved to be tabula rasa. Maybe he was in rare form last week, but I was positively impressed by his shrewd and candid manner. His insights were relevant and clearly expressed (though the brain surgeon analogy grew tired). I was especially interested by the discussion of the modern artist’s role as player. The responsibility not only to create art, but also to engage “the elaborate systems of the art world” is daunting. But it’s necessary to differentiate between the artist and the artisan/hobby artist because they are different. As Snitzer said, “I don’t do dentistry on the weekends.” I agree that it’s essential for an artist to “figure out the language” of the market. Nowadays, many artists scorn or resist the player role, but commercialization is an undeniable aspect, and doesn’t denigrate art-making; i.e. “Romero Brito is a full-time artist.” Snitzer contributed to my mounting realization that marketing is part of figuring out how to engage an audience. His advice was personally helpful, and I hope that the impression of Fred Snitzer that I now hold in mind is never disillusioned.
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