What does it take to get artists out of the house and into a venue where their art can be seen?
It isn’t money. The shows at most of the local galleries offer rewards that would pay for art supplies and leave a bit left over for dinner. Go outside the area and the incentives are even greater. Some of the national shows offer prizes in the thousands.
It isn’t the challenge. You name it and some enterprising gallery will build a show around it. Within the last year I’ve seen Fish, Motorcycles, Text, Digital Images, Maritime, two or three Open shows and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.
It isn’t the quality. Our local guys can cut the mustard with anyone anywhere in the country. I don’t need to, but I’ll name names because the local kids are great and deserve a plug. Let’s start with Kimberly Wurster and Kelle Herrick, our bird women and then there’s Pat Snyder and Susan Lehman, collage artists extraordinaire, Dutch Mostert covers the waterfront, Susan and Steve Dimmock and Anne Sobotta create beauty with a camera, S.L. Donaldson has a palette like no one else, Jean Kyle’s vibrant colors explode off the canvas and Sherry Howk makes marvels from spilled paint, sorry poured paint. The list could go on and eventually I’d run out of gas before I ran out of talented artists to fill the list. Okay, the Charleston Gang lead by Charles of Charleston, it’s endless and that’s just a start.
So if talent, prizes and challenges can’t drag folks out of the living room and away from the television just what is it going to take?
Some nerve. No, I mean it it takes nerve to send your little darlings out into the cold, cruel world to live or die on their own merits.
Now there are those who will tell you that the jurying process is unfair. It is, get over it, the second you let human beings do the judging it becomes unfair.
What’s that I hear your cry? With the right standards it could be perfectly fair. Who says? That’s the problems with any limitations on art, who says?
Okay so we can all agree that the guys who do realism have something we can evaluate…can we? I know what a sparrow looks like, I fed the little buggars until they can’t lift off the ground and I can tell a seagull from a partridge even if it isn’t in a pear tree. But what do I know about herons or storks or egrets? Not a single thing and I can tell if it looks like it could fly, but not much else. That’s the problem, I just don’t know enough and I don’t think anyone else does except they guys who spend their lives trying to capture in ink or print what is perfect on the wing.
So let’s move on to something less concrete, collage. Now I know even less about collage than I do about birds. It’s not something I have spent a lot of time thinking about because when I do think and yes I do think sometimes, I think about my own passions, people, working people, beautiful people, naked people, fashion people, police people, fisher people and that takes up all of the space in my tiny little mind, so there is just no room for collage to make head way.
I know Pat and Susan know a lot more about it than I do and they do it a lot better than I do and that is just as it should be because you see, I don’t do it at all.
Have you ever tried to match a color? I have a bunch of times and except for the one time I got it right with the color of the ceiling tiles in the house which had turned a bit yellow cause they were really well past retirement age, okay, I did manage to match the color of the cabinets in the kitchen, but don’t tell the Boss cause I haven’t gotten around to painting them since I came home from the hospital and if we keep it really quiet maybe she won’t notice.
The point I was trying to make before I drifted off to tiles and cabinets was that matching a color is a colossal pain in the assets and even if it is institutional white it is harder than the devil which brings me to S. L. Donaldson, the girl can mix. Those colors are amazing! And no matter if she is doing something which I can recognize from across the room or something which confuses the devil out of me, I know the colors will be amazing.
Which brings me back to where I started, who says? There is just no way to measure objectively what an artist can create. The whole process of jurying is gonna be subjective and will tell you a lot more about the judge than it does about the art.
So why if it isn’t fair should anyone come out in the rain to show their pictures when no one will appreciate the inherent mastery in them, because they can’t agree or disagree with you or anyone else if they never get to see it.
The artists in our enclave who have reputations got them by showing their art, showing it at every opportunity, showing it to everyone who would slow down long enough to look and that is why they have reputations. You cannot get noticed if all of your work stays in the closet.
We have so many opportunities here on the South Coast, some of us moved here because of it, some of us landed here and fell in love because of it and some of us just enjoy it because it is here. Why not take the chance, stretch your horizons, nerve it out and show your work?
Then one day when I am listing the lights in our artistic heaven your name will be on the tip of my tongue.