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Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

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It’s bright and sunny here, and I was planning on taking a nap, but there was this little voice in my head that said “hey, you gotta write an entry.” And then Art Business News showed up in my mail this morning. Now this is a free magazine, sent out to frame shops and the like, chock full of ads (which is how they pay their rent) for and by print publishers. It’s sorta fun, in a train wreck sorta way. It seems that the artists, and galleries that are written about all have one major focus; Let’s make some money here! Advanstar, the company the runs the joint, also organizes Artexpo New York. Which, while it does not have the cachet of say ArtBasel Miami, just to pick one art show out of a hat, probably does as much business. After all, if they are in the Javits Convention Center, they ain’t exactly chump change.

Now, for the past three months, they’ve been writing stuff that borders on out and out racism, and I’ve contemplated writing a letter to point this out to them. But in a weird sorta way, I gotta largish kick outa the fact that they could be so completely clueless in the PC oriented world that we live in, and also the paper where I read the magazine is very soft, and not really suited for being written upon. Just so that you don’t think that I’m making this up, in March the secondary headline read: “Latin Art Strikes a Salsa Beat with Hispanics.” In February the lead article was entitled “Asian Americans Emerge as Savvy Consumers.” And back in January they wrote that “Black Buying Power Shows Strength in Art.” I was wondering what minority was gonna get featured this month, and was sorta stumped ‘cuz their generalizations were so gross, but kept my fingers crossed that they’d hit on the latest and greatest – imagine “Gays and Lesbians have a Queer Eye when it comes to Art” or “Aboriginals Pow-Wow before Purchasing Prints” or “Muslims Bomb the Art World with Big Buys.”

But, naw, they weren’t that inventive. This month they went for “Galleries and Artists Cater to the Young at Art.” And I said to myself; “Oh Boy! This is going to be fun!” (With a small “tee-hee under my breath.) They got quotes all over the place, like “‘It?s not about drinking,’ said Smith about the Gen X appeal. ‘It?s about hanging with friends. It?s about the social aspect of drinking – not sweating life too much.’? Or

Burton Morris is another artist who has caught on with younger buyers. “It’s for a newer generation of collectors?people who like color, who like more contemporary art, who like art that makes them happy,” he said about his art. “It?s something a little more positive. It appeals to the ‘Friends’ demographics.”

But then they go and say some reasonable things such as, “Keeping art affordable is essential in marketing to younger art buyers.” And, “Younger art buyers avoid ‘art speak‘ and pretentiousness.” Now while I might disagree with what they call “affordable” (you’re going to have to read the article for yourself in order to know what that is) and “people liking color” would classify in my dictionary as artspeak (how many color blind people do you know?) they do make some very good points.

This all ties in nicely with yesterday’s entry, because these are the folk that are “demystifying” the art world. Unfortunately, the reasons that they are doing so seem to be in search of the almighty dollar. And while I like coffee as much as the next person, I prefer to get my coffee from anyplace but Second Cup (or Starbucks those of you below the 49th) and I adore hamburgers but Mickey D’s ain’t exactly my style. So selling unlimited editions of giclees that have hand embellishments – or in non-artspeak terminology – Ink jet prints run off in sufficient quantities so that we saturate the market and get as much cash as possible, while using fancy-ass words and doodling on one corner so that we don’t get busted for fraud, so that you think that you’re getting something that we call original that is about as unique as that K-car you used to drive when you were 18, doesn’t quite sit well with me either.

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  • visualsimplicity

    There are some definite things wrong with the “Galleries and Artists Cater to the Young at Art” article. It sounded like a wonderful piece about the budding appreciation of art by younger audiences up until I read this: “It makes me feel more comfortable to know that this is a business and that people would like to make sales.” You are right about them focusing far too heavily on the all mighty dollar. What happened to the appreciation of something that you love, etc…?

    By the way, how does one talk about art without using even the slightest bit of art speak?