My recent reply
to a thought provoking post by Amanda Palmer
about a creatively compelling question of the value of art
posed by William Giraldi
during his review of a book by Scott Timberg
Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class by Scott Timberg
accidentally turned into a blog-worthy post.
These were my thoughts that, in true instant gratification/social media
fashion escaped rapidly from my fingertips with little to no editorial
selection (of course the text was even smaller there.)
"At the risk of minimizing this to an "it's the economy stupid" diatribe, I have to say that IS part of it. Willingness to spend money on art ...or anything else...is directly proportionate to the amount one has. That being said, artist of all walks of life for generations have at some point been faced with the question, "Great you want to be an artist...but, what is your REAL job going to be?" This mentality is nothing new.
The current struggle for the "middle class" artist is simply a sign of the times...once again reflected in the art of that same culture is a record of our times for future generations to see... A college degree no longer means what it used to ...I can't help wondering if part of that isn't directly related to the fact that students pay $15 for a bowl of cereal and then go to a class that entails "read this article online and we can talk about it next week" but that is another conversation altogether. My point is, ART has NEVER been able to be given any real sense of worth when measured in dollars. VALUE is in the eye of the beholder. Can anything really "valuable" be measured by that mode of exchange? If our worth is defined by a system of measurement created and perpetuated by a limited culture, is any surprise really that our cultural experiences are becoming increasingly limited? I believe the power and value of art is greater than these parts... If it weren't artists would have given up a long time ago. Where there is a will there is a way...
where there is art to be made....it WILL be seen.
So, the real question is, what is appropriate compensation for the work that takes place here? and how do we measure that?
Stranded in the desert with a beautiful painting of the arctic wilderness, you come across a guy with a well of fresh clean pure water (this is fantasy land by the way). you have no water and all he has seen for ten years is the desert landscape and that well of water. Would it be a fair exchange to trade the painting for the water?
The value of the art is always relative to the perspective and perception which surround it. In this tiny town in upstate NY I keep trying to make art and trying to make my studio a self-sustaining, life-maintaining entity.
More importantly, I continue to work to keep art available to anyone who has an appreciation for it. Ultimately, that is the job placed before me when I was given this gift/curse to make art.
How we as a society define terms like "survival" and "living" and "starving" and "thriving" is not unrelated to our own personal definition of "creative success."
We adjust our way of life to meet our means...whatever they may be...no matter how they may fluctuate...
We make art... Because it's what we DO.
The ways in which we finance it may not be as important as our current money -minded culture would have us believe.
In existence since the birth of humanity, Art will never stop being a reaction, reflection and record of the time in which it was created.
In more practical terms
...and in response to the final paragraph of Amanda's post,
I also pay for the project through sales of my own art..few as they are...oddly though I seem to find bits and pieces of support here and there that allow me to continue my work on this project.
Living in the poorest county in upstate new york means that people here..
though they may truly appreciate art and NEED it more than the affluent
can't AFFORD to exchange their limited number of dollars for my art.
So, I also have a Barter For Art Program at my studio which allows local patrons to trade goods and services that I cannot do or obtain for myself in exchange for the art that they might like to have in their home or business. Recently traded a portrait for enough farm fresh eggs to feed my dog for a month. (He has food allergies).
"Without Art the crudeness of reality would make life unbearable" ~George Bernard Shaw said that.
Truer words have seldom been spoken.
except maybe, "It's all relative" :-)
In hind sight I realize that I forgot to point out or ask about the concept of "sustainability." What we as artists ask for is also directly proportionate to what we are trying to sustain.