art and art-lovers unite!

So, I have been thinking awhile about how artists need community because we have a tendency to be alienated and isolated in our studios (and that’s just soooooooooo Abstract Expressionist and we don’t have to worry about McCarthyism and HUAC locking us up because we’re degenerates and subversives) and that people who love the arts need to be part of that community–since who else are we creating for but those that love art and each other–and I was talking to Miss Carrie at the Art Garage about this very thought.

 

She suggested that I take a look at Artini–Arts Management with a Twist written by the incomparable Ellen Rosewall–who basically is on every board of ever arts-oriented thing in Green Bay–because she had recently been voicing a similar thought.

 

My response to her post was

It seems like getting people into situations that they are likely to even start speaking to each other would be the first step–like Gallery Night, but Gallery Night has the draw-back of happening so infrequently and being kinda art-touristy. I keep thinking about the writing group that I used to be a member of before I moved to the Green Bay-area; we would get together a couple of times a month and talk about writing, exchange stories, and support each other. It’s not precisely what you’re talking about here, but it seems like we need to get ourselves-as-artists out of this removed, individuated-to-the-point-of-isolation mindset so that we can connect with audiences and help them to become something more than audiences.

I don’t see why an “artists group” should be just artists. Why not have something like these groups where anyone who is interested in art could come to play?

And isn’t this true?  It’s hard for artists to meet other artists and for artists to meet people who are interested in art outside of a Gallery Night  or an art school sorta context, and when you’re terminally shy like me, it’s even harder to meet other artists or, when you meet them, to talk to them.  <–If y’all haven’t realized this, “socially awkward” is my middle name.

 

(Okay, so this is something that might totally exist already around the country where there are huge-upon-huge art scenes, but what about Green Bay?  Couldn’t Green Bay totally use one [or seven] of these?)

 

So, this brings up the age-old questions:  what can we-as-artists and art-lovers do?

 

We can form groups!  Get anyone and everyone we know that has an interest in art and tell them to invite their art-interested friends and meet and talk and drink and just totally BS about life, the universe, and everything.

 

If we all set up groups and met even just once a month, imagine the art communities that we could build!  It could be a place for artists and the art-interested to trade ideas, concepts, and methods as well as receive critique (which is another one of those things that artists miss when we’re all alone in our studios) and form potential art co-operatives and find other artists working in similar concepts and/or materials.

 

It could even be away to bridge that huge gap that exists between the older generation of artists and the younger generation, bring arts to schools via the community, and get people to realize that, hey, you’re never to old or young to start making art; that, like everything, art takes practice and determination and critical thinking and someone to bounce ideas off of occasionally.

 

And booze.  Don’t forget the booze.  <–Okay, art really doesn’t need alcohol involved, but for the adults, it takes some of the sting out of critique.

 

So, artists and art-lovers, for groups!  Even if it’s just to talk about artists that you like or exhibits that you’ve seen.

 

Hey, if writers and poets can do it–why can’t artists?

4 comments

  1. Love this, and thanks so much for mentioning Artini! As a performing artist, we had good built-in communities — theater casts, choirs, things like that. Now that I don’t perform any more, I’ve been doing visual art for its meditative aspect, so I kinda like the isolation. But one of my points in mentioning the community issue is that any attempts at communication and community building by arts organizations of any kind tend to be of the artist-to-audience variety. Meet the artist at the opening! Come to the talk-back after the play! Not that this is bad, but I would love it if there were more horizontal communication (artist-to-artist and audience-to-audience) too. If anyone thinks of any ideas, reply to my blog at erosewall.wordpress.com. (shameless plug)

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    1. Not a problem!

      *shamelessly plugs Artini too*

      See, as a visual artist, I’ve never really liked the isolation (I have a tendency to isolate myself as it is; I don’t need anymore help!). It seems like an outdated mode to me–especially, when so many of my art instructors were part of co-operatives. Classes like Critique Seminar were classes that really helped me and showed me that community was good: we’d see art not like ours, help each other to refine our ideas, and suggest other directions.

      No one had to really listen, but it was nice. And most of the artists that I ran with in school were very group-oriented.

      The artist-to-audience, audience-to-audience, and audience-to-artist are always more complicated, but I think these groups would be a good way to at least attempt that horizontal communication. Make things accessible. Demystify artists, art–the entire shebang. Get non-artists excited and encourage artists to be more communicative (which totally is one of those myths that we seemed to have had ingrained into our genetic codes about artists: that we can’t communicate. <–I totally think that's bunk, but ya know, we've all heard it, right?).

      Social media is definitely something that's going to help to encourage some increased communication, but I'm not sure that it's going to really help on the ground, ya know? Not like in-person community can. Then the trick would be how to connect all the communities so that we can move between them effortlessly.

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      1. I think the idea of fostering an artistic community that welcomes all types of artists and interested non-artists together is especially timely for a number of reasons. For one, brains of all sorts working together can never be a bad thing. It also would certainly help to debunk a probably still-common perception that artists are “elitist,” and such. In addition, given the current economic and political situation, the more people can share resources and support, the better. That’s sorta my tuppence on the matter.

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  2. I think the advent of an inclusive community of artists and interested non-artists (who could certainly be convinced they have creativity in them) is especially timely for a number of reasons. For one, the more brains working together on any subject, the better. Also, a diverse community, as Trie points out, can help counter a still-common perception that artists are “elitist,” and have no real interest in communicating with anyone outside of their rarefied circles. Perhaps a lesson in organization can be taken from many bands who combine social media and a youtube presence with “street teams” who literally do ground work in promotion (posters, flyers, word-of-mouth, etc.). Finally, I think more people sharing resources and support with each other is vital given the current political and economic climate. That’s my tuppence.

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