Process vs end "result"
As visual art practitioners, we are often asked (or ask ourselves) whether we are successful or not. But then, of what success do we speak?
If success in the visual arts is creating, i.e.: “making”... then, with or without the status of “artist”, most of us can claim to be successful. If, as the marketplace implies, success is in the selling... then most of us are not.
Creative success is in the process, in the making of things, the manufacturing (in the purest sense) of objects whose goal it is to eventually stand on their own. But, ironically, that type of success needs no branding of ourselves, no marketing of how grand "we" are - unless that is the goal: i.e.: to be seen to be an artist rather than to free our work to speak for itself.
In essence, it is only in the marketplace parameter of things (in the arena of buying and selling) that this other success: i.e.: “the financial one, with all of its gizmos”, exists. And despite any personal opinions, the end product of selling becomes not so much the thing made but rather the $, Yen, Euro, Rupee gained - through the "ridding ourselves" of a product.
That being said, I am not implying that achievement in the market arena (i.e.: earning a living), is a "bad thing". I do it daily. I am simply stating that "success" in this realm does not give it a status, or higher calling, as the root essence of creative success. Though selling a product plays a role in feeding one's belly and paying the rent... professional recognition (fame?), achieved at this end of the "success" spectrum, remains ephemeral.
That being said, selling means knowing one's buyer demographic...
Artworks, as end products in the life of a professional visual artist, are “out there” to get bought and sold. So who's out there to buy? The variety of purchasers interested in the visual arts is as “coloured” as the artworks being offered. But basically, they fall into 3 categories. The standard consumer is the first of these. He or she buys artwork in safe colours and safe subject matter and, oftentimes, depicting skillfully copied imagery of anything which evokes nostalgia, romanticism, whimsy, or decor, i.e.: anything which makes a living-room or bedroom colour scheme pop.
Collectors, are those who prefer greater depth and wonder in their artwork acquisitions. Their need may be the purchase of one artwork only, or they may want many more over time. But their main goal is the same: to be "awed" rather than consider everything "awesome".
Finally, there are those whose primary concern is collecting for investment. Investors purchase what is expensive or may be considered to, "one day" be of "value". This breed of buyers is more closely associated with the concept of marketing since its interest is in brand recognition - i.e.: in the artist's name more than in the creativity aspect of an output which may or may not have art residing within it. In this case, the artwork itself is not so much the focus as it is the commodity of it, the bartering chip aspect of it - the financial investment "thing" in a "transaction".
Artwork, purchased in the first and last categories described, more easily fits into marketing concept expectations and $ prognostications. Its existence in this forum has a rather less than esoteric reason for being there. It’s simple: 1) be available for sale, 2) get noticed through promotion and 3) get bought. In essence, at its most essential beingness in our times, artwork is a commodity, an available object like any other product.
Artwork? Art? What’s the difference?
In our times, the word, the moniker, the definition of “art” is often bandied about as being anything that any Tom, Dick or Harriet, calling themselves an artist, creates. From the onset, this supposition is false. Though artwork is a product. "Art" is definitely not. It’s not even a thing. It cannot be bartered, bought or sold. In fact, art belongs to everyone - gratis.
Uhm....... explain please!
For all intents and purposes, art is like a story "living within" a book - the artwork being the book cover and the art being the content. On its own, art mysteriously emerges from artwork to connect with whomever is sensitive enough to “feel” its existence. Essentially, all we have to do, metaphorically, is to open the “book” and visit the “pages”. Art is what speaks to us from within a painting, a sculpture, a dance, a song. It is, in fact, the mystery, the enigma, the wonder we discover in a piece. Its purpose in life is simple - to reach out, touch and move us.
Does art reside in all artworks?
In a visual-art sense, art is born of the capacity of an individual (a creative person) to invent an environment (an artwork) which skillfully, or not, describes a thought, a feeling, an experience. Each brush, pen, pencil or chisel stroke is laid down for the sole purpose of combining with many other similar "actions" to create a composition that "hits the mark". To use the book analogy once more... Basically, a good cover (artwork) is not only created to be “attractive” but it also must hint at “more”. This “more” is experienced when we (the viewer) begin to feel the mystery within, being touched by the story within. But, to answer the question... No. Not every artwork is a successful book cover design or hints at a compelling story within... Art, therefore, does not necessarily reside within all artwork.
So, how do we create "art"?
We don't. We can't. Simple as that.
Artwork creation is about a painter, a sculptor, a dancer, writer, composer, etc. speaking to us, and saying: "I saw this, I experienced this in my particular way of taking-in life, I felt this. AND, I thought that it just might be of interest to you. And so I created this “artwork” which would bring this "to be shared message" to you, dear viewer. What do you think?...”
Artwork creation therefore is simply an expressed wish to be shared, to make a connection with others. And, in that moment of sharing become discovery, just maybe art will be discovered - if it is actually there to be felt (not understood, but felt...). When artwork has the wondrous enigma of art within it, it soon makes its way to the viewer, the appreciator of it.
Since the very beginning of creative expression, this mystery has occurred and continues to happen to this day. It is in those wondrous “things” we call masterpieces that we discover and feel, and are able to immerse ourselves in the warmest embraces of the greatest gift some of us will ever receive: the capacity to be awed.
Much like the Mona Lisa has moved millions since her features were revealed in the early 16th century, most of us still have no idea why she is so fascinating. After 400 years and more, she continues with no hiatus, to elicit still more questions than she hands out pat answers. Wondrously, she speaks to us individually rather than collectively, thus becoming "ours" for awhile. And this, she does freely. She charges no fee to share with us, to tease us, to create questions in our minds about her and ourselves. Such is the make-up of art. Art is the enigma of wonder. But without this mystery in the acts of connection and sharing, it sadly fades... and when that happens, we are the less for it.
All this to say: though the physical property of her (the artwork) belongs to the Louvre and can be bought or sold for multi millions, what she was created for: "the art of her" is this capacity to freely reach out, and this, always as a without reservation gift.
And this is the magic, the wonder of "art" - that aspect of artwork which (when it is actually there) is like the genie in Aladdin's lamp. In that story, we came to understand that though the lamp from which the genie emerges may be just a physical object, it nonetheless has within it the capacity to "attract", to lure us in through its seeming wish to be with us. And when we react to this connection, we become one with the genie that is the "art" within that lamp.
But what of the creator of an artwork? Where do they fit in, where art is concerned?
Most of us don’t know who painted Mona Lisa anymore than whose gnarled hands built a rocking chair mysteriously sitting on the porch of an abandoned farm house. But that doesn’t stop us from wondering about who may have sat in her as we “feel” the breeze which still rocks that chair... At their best, artworks convey such sensuality, not logic. Their purpose is not to get us to say how great the author, the skill or even the finished product is. The reason for artworks is the promise of hopefully there being soul within this thing made - depth into which we can immerse ourselves in order to discover the greatness in the ordinariness of being alive.
At its most eloquent, the making of an artwork is in actual fact the designing of an altar - the creating of a mystical place-object which we hope will house the art we wish to share with viewers.
But... Today's obsession with marketing, selling and acquisition has taken us away from life's "knowing" that to behold something wondrous is more precious to our wellbeing than holding onto, possessing.... or owning something.
If this is so, the fundamentals of universal marketing are not only tainting the worth and value of our very existence, they have come to dictate its norms and those of our personal exercise of the creative gifts we have been given. Not only does marketing speak authoritatively to us, it is, in actual fact, dictatorially determining how we react, or not, to the essentials of our very being and doing. And by doing so, awe before the most wondrous of things becomes the “ubiquitous and meaningless “awesome”. Making us now, more ordinary than the extraordinary that we are
Contemporary marketing has duped us into believing that what we hold in our hands is the zenith prize; that the "possession of things" awards us the ultimate feeling of happiness as dictated by the getting, the acquiring, the accumulation, the "owning" of things as per our collective environments endless quest: to have it all.
Perhaps it's time to opt for joy - that created-from-within feeling which is not dependent upon the accumulation of objects to give us a voice and sharings worthy of awe.
Woke Gone Mad
From its very inception, the idea, the expression of “Woke” has been a deeply honest display of awareness - an "awakedness" of only those who know how troubling actions and attitudes can truly be. This is especially true within a collective which has come to be so full of itself it no longer cares about anyone or anything but itself - a time when self-esteem (how we feel about ourselves based on a superficial collective mantra dictates what is acceptable) supersedes an internalized and mature self-respect and joy.
That being said. Though all earnest intentions of great consequence are genuine, their fate is to often fall into the hands of exploiters. Woke is one of these. In the hands of the most arrogant among us, it has come to attain such levels of toxicity that it will not be long before everyone suffers the consequences of our see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil pretenses built around this appropriated woke “purportedly” means.
As stated, there have always been and always will be those who confiscate, who abscond with that which can be disfigured and remolded into a snake-oil concoction, a manipulation, a divisive tool of the masses which is then used as a cudgel against those who do not think as the perpetrator does.
Sadly, for woke to be a weapon of choice it needs not only a conquering evil but also a cadre of submissive fools. Woke, in the hands of these two demographics then easily becomes a fascist mirror reflection of its once earnest self. Appropriated, it is now an ode to superiority gone mad and moralistic bombast of the worst puritan kind. It has become an appropriation made insane by narcissistic individuals and self righteous groups who use shame and canceling and rejection to achieve their means. Even seen to be legitimate governments, corporations, honored associations, and institutions have succumbed to its siren call.
Is this in fact a fear response of being discovered faulty or less than promoted? Is it arrogance seeking to elevate itself above the fray - (lest the crowds discover the truth of their oh-so-superior authoritarian intentions in the abuse of the concept of "Woke"?)
Without the nurturing of control and evil in our times, Woke could not be the unintended moralistic plague that it has become. Even though good things, good intentions at conception, actually seek to wrap us in the warmth of their wisdom and giftedness, evil, always in the wings, is always ready to pounce. And how is that possible? Easy. It is what it is... evil. It appropriates and absconds with a valid precept in order to rot its innards and serve it as truth. And this is done to achieve an ultimate goal: power - to dominate and rule rather than lead and guide.
And if evil seeks to pursue, tempt, subdue and enslave - (and its goals always are), its weapon of choice is often what we think “we own” for legitimate intents and purposes. And so, unquestioning, and even gullible, we trust - considering it normal to feel safe in the havens of our democracies. But often, we become lazy, apathetic and no longer engaged in the protection of those same democracies. And there lies the rub... How easy it is to fall prey to that which seeks to destroy our illusions simply because we are too open to "virtually" anything because we are too comfortable and unconcerned.
But then, as all other incantations-become-evil have done before, Woke, at its worst, will dissipate - and we will once more strive harder to purify ourselves, our societies, our organizations and our institutions.
But this time... is this true? If it is, how can we think that it will easily come to pass before serious damage is realized to have been done to the very structural foundation of our worlds - the very core of our now tainted democratic principles? What of the damage to our schools and the children who attend them, our freedoms and values? What of all the divisiveness, the victimhood obsessions, the identity politics? These will not go away willingly. For the next several decades, we will be left with nothing less than toxic remnants of our own follies. A cult of victimization and memes of superior moralism which will continue to create an ever-slower healing of festering wounds incised by “our” new world order of pointing fingers before we are pointed at, of shaming those "not like us" and of cancel culture neo-puritanism.
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me..............”
Bring on the witches of Salem... Lest we forget? That time of “I am pure and you are not” is once again upon us.
In answer to a Facebook request for information re "art websites" and their quest to convince us we can't survive without them, I submitted the following which was immediately BANNED by Facebook as it did not meet its "community standards...." Basically, I stated that art websites which ask for a fee to display your artwork are not what they set themselves up to be anymore than pay-to-play galleries were prior to the internet. On my site you are all free to take in or reject my presentations without a hassle. Enjoy!
The question asked was the following:
Dear fellow artists, has anyone found a website theme that works well for art sales? I just realized my websites are doing nothing for me, and it's time for a "Spring cleaning."
One response presented was the following:
I've had a site on FASO for years ... no sales. But I didn't do all their suggestions. They give you a marketing plan to make that a step by step but with all the other things in my life, I still got overwhelmed with everything there is to do and figure out with online tech and marketing. That said I like that they tell you how and have good support team. They do weekly webinars and so you have access to the info in the library if you miss them or want to watch the old ones. Thay have a prints on demand thing too. And then they also offer their service of Art Sales Optimization if you decide NOT to do it yourself. I'm considering that but that service is $1000 so .... still thinking about that wondering if I should try myself using their tutorials first or just save time and hassle and pay them to do it. Everything is upfront with them. No hidden fees like HostGator. I also have 2 sites on Hostgator that are related to other things but mention my art. I recently decided to get rid of them but found out they just auto-renewed at high prices (with expensive add-ons) and no refunds so instead, for now, I'm keeping them, redoing them and planning the end of them when they come due again. Good luck with your search. Keep us posted.
I responded with the following which was immediately curbed from being presented (by Facebook) as it is deemed to be (by Facebook) counter to their "community standards" (!!!) Undeterred, I present these thoughts on MY website blog. Take from it what you will. Cheers. -
Pay-to-play websites... my thoughts...
Thank you for this information which is a reflection of many other "helpful" (?) pay-to-play sites. The old adage is true: Nothing is free. Even then, no "service" (?) can guarantee sales, and most cannot actualize what is totally dependent on the attraction between an artwork and a viewer. NOTHING else matters in the promotion and sale of artworks - no matter what these sites promise or imply to promise.
$1000? You can do a lot more for that amount of money than waste it on beautiful sites which do NOT (cannot) promote your name as the top byline on their pages since they have thousands of others to "satisfy" and the purpose of their site is not to promote your work but to attract visitors to their site. (Something to ponder).
I continue to recommend a Wix, Weebly or Wordpress type of personal site in which, when people type your name, they reach YOUR site and not someone else's. Also when your site name (www.yourname.com) pops up on Google search, it will MOST probably be on the first search page because few if any people have your same name.
Take the time to read an old-fashioned promo and ad book from the old ad-greats from the early 20th century and you will get a million times further in your quest to sell artwork than by being a nobody in the $1000 nobody world of the mega art-pay-to-play sites.
The artworld market is NOT for wimps. Take charge of your marketing. Spend the time to do it slowly and well. You're not the only one out there trying to make a living. And even then, about 3% of drawers and painters "make it". In the beginning stick to your neighbourhood and as the word gets out, spread "the news". It is more likely you will make more sales in your own environment than in the world's open-door policy of oblivion. Never forget... It is not we who determine whether we become a "name-brand". That is the role of those who see our artwork and promote us by word of mouth, and buy our work, and proudly display it. Without an eager audience, we go nowhere. THEY are more important to our success in the marketplace than we are.
That's it. My 2 cents after 54 years of success in an extremely difficult marketplace.
Last note: The digital world is not meant to be generous to its trusting clients any more than physical galleries will be. But, if we are astute and are "in it" for the long haul, it can be a helluva ride and as long as we stay positive and creative, there is always a chance someone "out there" will catch our vibe. 😊 Cheers!
Meshugga (not aside), Yoshitomo Nara is a rather well-regarded creative for no other reason than he fits the contemporary narrative of less is more, especially in the areas of traditional talent and skillsets. Like many of his peers, his work focuses on his talents as a brander - a creator of his own persona rather than a traditional master of an “oeuvre”. His is a “branding art” not unlike that of Coke, Ralph Lauren or Nike symbolism. It is a genre which says “me” rather than the world beyond me. In that, it is very contemporary - a self-aggrandizing presentation rather than a reaching out, a philosophic rendering or a statement for communication... But is that all it is?
At first glance, there is nothing more “there” than what the “presenter” in the video puts forward. Ironically, the “look at me style” of her own presence tries to emulate the depth of the content of the exhibition - but doesn't seem to get it. From the very beginning, her description of the works on display is more in keeping with a benevolent preacher of the faith. Well rehearsed, she immediately proceeds, not to enlighten regarding the “artist’s” process, but rather to proselytize, i.e.: to advise us on what we should be thinking and feeling if we want to get "the message”.... i.e.: in order that we become the true Orwellian believers we should be.
For all intents and purposes, if Nara’s goal is the one described in this video, the process (if there is one) appears to shamelessly have more to do with earmarking his projects in such a way as to attract (i.e.: entice and hold) “shoppers” more than viewers and potential collectors. To that effect, his pupil-less-eyeballed children are “alluring” - even when the chill they convey feels dangerous. They say more through their blank gawking than do those "brats" he seemingly depicts as precursors to that blindness. The blank stares imply a viewer’s hypnosis induced submission to side-show freakism which, in turn, relates more to our society's reality-TV weirdness obsession than it does to “achievement”. And in that sense, Nara is all about $UCCE$$. Or is he?
Does all of the above mean his work is worth the moneys purportedly paid out for his psycho-social meanderings? One would have to say: probably, since those he purportedly seeks to attract are not “knowing collectors” but rather buyers who actually do fork out the euros, dollars, and yen (and willingly so), for whatever the subject matter or quality of the work he and others put forward. Un-hunh?
Does this, therefore, mean the decision-making of these “investors” reflects a lack of knowledge in art? Not necessarily. Again, it’s a matter of perceived cleverness, of financial smarts. The moneys being spent by those who heft the piles of cash have less to do with what the artist is saying and more to do with “how much they can eventually get when they flip the “product”. But then, that's par for the course. Buying artwork at this level has more to do with gambling and daring than perceptive genius. It’s a marketplace strategy - a serious lark where players engage in an arena in which few if any of us can be considered players and, therefore, ever fewer of us who can pooh-pooh the involved marketing concepts outright. Why? Simple. This is not our backyard. We have no idea what the players are thinking of and few if any of us would ever be allowed to even play in their alleyways. Neither our work nor our psyche fit this schtick anyway.
That being said, the old adage holds: “Value is what someone is willing to pay”, whether its for a fluorescent pink Hummer or a diamond studded Volks; whether the commodity is a linen rag or what’s painted on that rag. It all rather has more to do with the information emanating from the minds of “marketplace manipulators” than it does the traditional esoteric search for human genius. It's capitalism with a capital C. North Americans should know that by now. Or do we?
All in all, it depends on how we perceive the world and how easily we can be led into what a specific era’s game playing is about. Nonetheless, and regardless of the "poor-is-me" caste we hold onto when “we” pedal our own wares, it must be acknowledged that artwork which achieves the amount of “notice” Nara's does should at least be awarded more than a participation diploma.
Also, and more importantly, and whether we like it or not, anything can be deemed to be “art" if, in its universality, it reflects the level to which a society has either risen or fallen in its quest to be an "era" of note. Though I have little empathy for Nara’s style of work, I cannot fault his reflections. If artwork be “art”, it must speak to the times and generally when it does, it does so throughout eternity. As far as Nara is concerned, he definitely speaks to the freakish nature of our self-effacing and destructive contemporary natures. That being said, what his actual goal is I can only guess.
Despite it all, there is always a saving grace for "we artists", that is... If our “artwork” eventually stands the test of time (even despite never garnering a price tag of millions - see Rembrandt, van Gogh, et al), it will nonetheless have as much merit as those of Nara and company, since time is unbiased, non-judgmental and egalitarian, it judges none and only seeks reflections of its "true" self as a neutral ground for experience.
But then, from the beginning, we must accept that artwork wishing to be art must have more to say than lots about me, myself and I. For artworks to be art, they cannot simply be a salve to make us feel better. The "Art" within artwork is a tangible yet enigmatic statement, a sharing, a reaching out beyond the self - a commitment to observed fact and truth, not simply a rendition of a perfect morning glory, using the right blues and purples.
Sadly, most of us are content to be avid copyists or contemporary pretenders to the throne of expressive childhood "personableness" - (may I insert here: without the talent or spontaneity required to be and do as a child). How so?
Being adults, we are stuck with a limited palette of colours and often a sorely wanting set of visual expression skills. Children do not need to learn self-expression. Adults, on the other hand, are often clueless in the area. Though we look hard, we don't often "see". And that is where we fail to ever reach "artisthood".
Artwork creation is an exercise in advancing skills. On the other hand, creating what wishes to be "art" is more a matter of seeing beyond the ordinary and sharing that extraordinariness with others. But in our times, this is becoming more and more difficult. Natural curiosity and imagination are quickly being eroded, ripped asunder from our normal human processes of growing. How so?
Evolving in the 21st century seems to have taken a turn for the worse - both psychologically and physically, both internally and socially, both geographically and ecologically. Our children's souls are heavy with emptiness though our their minds are filled with worried busyness. And so, as creatives, We don't dare anymore. Though we run faster, we simply get nowhere sooner and wonder about the anxious states we experience. It's as if we are killing off the power to create rather than stimulating it. Whether we like it or not, to create art is to dive ever more deeply into ever more complex situations despite the fear we may actually drown in the process. That is the act of living fully. That excitement is what encourages more and more of our "self" to glow. In essence, to be art, our artwork must be about more than the safe environs me, myself and I create for ourselves.
That said, don’t the Nara fetish figures not solely mirror his “own weird self”, his own stagnation? I wager not. Nara is not blind. Like Warhol, he shares his obsessions with “us” - his contemporary kin. . . And how easily we react if not identify with the weirdness of his figures is a reflection of how correct he is in his observations.
Nara’s repetitious "I wanna be nasty” child is like a never ending tantrum - cute at 5 but beyond that age bracket it becomes a disquieting “disturbance”, a bizarre reflection of the social and mental construct of our adulthoods which seem increasingly focused on narcissism as analgesic. With 40 being the new 20 and 60 the new 40, we are become the brats we raised while stoking our fear of the inevitability of death; wasting creative potential and the enjoyment of the fullness of time we do have between now.... and then.
The overall effect of Yoshitomo Nara's pieces is admittedly disturbing, not because they are, but because our times are disturbing... His work speaks to a world order that is slowly eating away at anything which remotely pretends to be life-giving, trusting, affectionate, bred of healthy intercourse and environmental survival.
Does that make Nara's work "valuable"? Yes. Why? Because it is a reference to our times; to the disturbance which affects how we will survive, or not, in the near and far future...
The "I, Me, Moi" rationale of our era seems unending in its quest to swallow us up. There is too much evidence at play re the disappearance of a valid self in our times where, in lieu, a pastiche, a mock-up of our reality seems to have more going for it than the real us. At times, it feels as if we are nothing more than carcasses upon which we endlessly erase the beauty that once was there by applying more and more “skin graffiti” to it. Why? In a quest to completely rid ourselves of the natural perfection that we are (flawed, though it is)?
Nara's blinding if not blind brats know this.
In the end, this astute artist does now what thousands of others did in their own previous centuries. Like Picasso, Delacroix, Hopper, Goya, Warhol, he knows what is most important in "art" (that so abused word) and that is to hand out mirrors to us all.
And so, just maybe, Nara's freaky child with the non-seeing eyes is simply the mirror image of our children raised from toddlerhood to adolescence to adulthood - raised to click away at a virtual nothing world, while the real one passes them by unnoticed... But then... Just maybe, I read Nara's work incorrectly.... Maybe not..... Only the mirrors we look into can tell.
WOKE - CATASTROPHE 101
At their inception, neither woke nor political correctness were meant to be stupid. Even the concept of microaggression, as extremist left as it has become, was never meant to be callously self-righteous. But in our populist times, all of these have come to be so... especially insomuch as a burning of books is in the contemporary lexicon of those too ignorant to have studied the matter as therapeutic and too self-centered to know what education is in light of their "adult" actions before and with children.
How low can such errors in judgment take us? Well, based on a news report out of Radio Canada, a purported “indigenous knowledge keeper” is the lead figure in the burning. Through research, it is now stipulated that she is neither indigenous nor seemingly knowledgeable of the fact that burning books is universally recognized as an act of aggression and certainly not a process of cleansing and healing, let alone reconciliation. In light of this, how else can such barbarism be seen to be other than stupid and most definitely an insult to the indigenous people of this land? Nicole Obomsawin, anthropologist and "real" indigenous person concurs that the burning of books is not the way to go nor is censure a tool of education.
Though ignorance can be cured through enlightenment, this 2019 reprehensible action reminds us that the virus of stupidity is far more dangerous than a COVID-pandemic. When did we stop learning and assimilating the errors of the past in order to not repeat them? Well, we haven’t. Will it ever come to be if we erase all signs of sin? Will it be when we pretend at purity of racial connections if only we can make the past go away? Is turning objects into ashes a valid process in which we can guarantee our ancestral and even today’s wrongs will never re-exist?
Sadly, we humans tend to repeat the past regardless; as if it is part of our fear-based DNA - hurting ourselves and mostly others from generation to generation to generation - and treating this as a sickening acceptance of an “it is what it is” scenario. Why? Because the more we face needing to remember, the more we run away from teaching ourselves social skills and empathy. Why? because we fail to realize, it seems, that we are beasts, not of slow learning, but of fast forgetting. What is it with us that, as children we are loving beings who recognize and accept each other’s foibles and differences? Yet, as adults, we fear this same “otherness”. What once we perceived as part of a magical garden of colours, shapes and wonderment, becomes us collectively growing into Grinches demanding that each be not of a garden but rather of an acreage of lawn with each blade adhering to the bland sameness of a “mowed into shape” impossible "perfection".
And so, what the hell, let’s burn books! Not just for our own self-aggrandizing satisfaction but mainly to teach our children about the importance of “censorship” and "power over"! And what the hell again! Why not start burning witches too - as we did in our proselytized pasts. Let’s pretend we aren't as horrid as we all can be to each other on “all” sides of the spectrum. Whether we know it or not... we are not (nor have we ever been) a superior species. Humans lack even the most basic of animal connection instincts and heart to be so.
And because of our lack of recognition of who we "and they" really are, self-righteous “enlightenment” too often rules the day, keeping us at war’s beckoning and at each other’s throats even when “others” don’t even bother to tread on our territorial prerogatives. All of this to note that we are generally, in this era of me, myself and I, poorly led and ever more poorly submissive to that which preaches itself sacred via "its own truth”, rather than “the” truth.
Oh, for the likes of a genuine Akela to keep this pack in line!...
Sadly, without a greater respect for self-respect we will always lack the ingenuity to survive and thrive, share and reconcile. When we let the worst of us become the norm of us we encourage our children to be anxious, to despair, to fear and wish themselves out of the horrors they have been given as an inheritance. What else does the burning of books feel like to children? And at the behest of a school board!!!!!! What else can they think but: “these adults are insane!”
How horrendous it is to think that children in the 21st century are trustingly being handed over to such a dictate of devolution! Rather than teach and eliminate racism, rather than be a battle act for reconciliation, such failures, such populist reasonings do nothing more than stoke and maintain the embers of the past; teaching nothing, having us remember nothing through an ignoring, via erasure from view, of the very fact we remain fallible - and forever will be.
“Lest we forget”...
Reminders are better left visible and available, coldly being what they are: nothing more, nothing less than: reminders... the most crucial elements to our evolving selves and collectives - lest we turn back the clock to even greater satanic rites of an ever devolving system.
Books and any other symbols of our less than savory pasts allow us to remain calm yet determined to “never again” create, and do, and say, and write, and feel what we once did in ignorance. These “objects” remind us that we must forever do better in the ridding ourselves, not of books, but rather of the populist mindsets which pretend at reasoning us away from remembering.
All in all, if being “woke” purportedly means: being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice), then we’ve definitely missed the boat...
Being woke was never meant to be fascism at its most symbolic and because it is in the case of book burnings, maybe those who determine the directions of our hearts and minds and souls through their false rhetoric need to be refrained from ever imposing their political stripes upon our children ever again. That's the first step.
If we care for ALL of our children and their futures, let’s bring the wisdom of elders from every facet of cultural and spiritual life to the fore. Have them enter the elementary and secondary classrooms to offer a positive moving forward rather than a stagnant pond of tit-for-tat reconciliation strategies with little to offer our children and their children’s children than repetitions of yesteryear. What adults of the future need are positive discussions and philosophical discourse; sage discernment rather than destructive emoting passing itself off as Truth.
At this time, adults in the game are moving nothing forward. They are, in actual fact, retreating to yet another endless “battle plan” - the next “official” move in the so-called direction of reconciliation. Hell, let's make room for child discussion on what is right and wrong, correct and incorrect and I would wager book burning would be a last resort stupidity no child would ever conjure. And possibly, through the wisdom of those who are worthy of being mentors and through the inherent goodness of children, summations to end all tomfoolery will bring about soul-directions which will save not only the world but ourselves from ourselves.
The role of children in our lives? Imagining better. The role of adults? Implementing better. Let's get at it.
My response to the above title posting, on LinkedIn, is presented on my Blog because it is too long for LinkedIn.
The author accused me of not reading her post. And so I answered the following:
The publicly proffered assumption that I had not read your article is unfounded and discourteous. I had. Several times even. Getting to the crux of your post was a bit complex. I did not “get” whether it was about mental health issues or a need to market your services.
You state: “I have talked with so many amazing artists.” (immediately adding): “Inevitably, these artists HIDE! They question whether they are good enough compared to other artists. They question their own value and validity as artists. They suffer from . . . impostor syndrome. . .they cling to it like it’s going out of style. Meanwhile, mediocre artists. . . sell like mad.”
I can only surmise that of the “so many amazing artists” you encounter, a large segment of them seem to suffer from anxiety, feelings of incompetence and a fear of failure. They see themselves (as you state) as fraudulent in their positioning of themselves as “artists”. In the sentence describing your dealings with them you infer that they should also feel like victims since your chosen quest is to “emancipate artists from sitting under the doctrine of the gatekeepers who keep them chained to a life of failure and starvation. (!!!) After 52 years in the visual arts (successfully I may add) I have never known it to be that discouraging an environment. . . Difficult? Yes. Discouraging ? No. And this despite the fact of my work being consistently rejected by the gallery and “art scene”. Maybe it’s all in the way we look at things. Rejected, I chose to go it my way rather than give up.
That being said, your post is nonetheless a serious one. It implies that there are several mental health issues “out there” which need to be looked into. When anxiety is as prominent as you cite, would it not be best to redirect the sufferers to legitimate therapeutic interventions rather than to a marketing strategy?
Though anxiety and depression are rather prevalent in our times, these symptoms should not be considered acceptable (normal) simply because there is more of this than at any other time in history - even in children and adolescents.
I also suggest that, despite our 21st century penchant for romanticizing mental health issues as they purportedly relate to “artists”, this milieu is no more prone to mental health turmoil than any other professional environment. Dr. Judith Schlesinger’s second edition of “The Insanity Hoax” dispels any notion that feelings of being impostors to a degree of dysfunction or anxiety are particularly “attached” to the art world”. In the grand scheme of things, creatives should not, a priori, be assumed to be overly sensitive or acceptably (read artistically) predisposed to mental health concerns.
Don’t I know of artists who have issues? Yes. But then, the artwork related to their distress is reflective of a personal quest to salve their distraught souls. Once this is achieved they begin again to create to reach out beyond themselves. Any of them I’ve encountered these past 52 years of artistic life have always created “despite” their issues, not because of them. As with extreme tinitus to a musician or mental health concerns to any one of us, these are annoying asides to the quest to create, not catalysts or drawbacks.
Assumptions vs Facts
To an essay entitled: 10 Behaviours People Find Condescending - (presented in LinkedIn on February 15, 2020 from the website: Entrepreneur)
I offer this response:
More often than not, the behaviours described in this essay (when they are actual negatives) are basically rudeness born of a lack of upbringing or the consequences of a social integration gone bad.
(Note: I will not comment on those points made which are obviously basic social no-nos. Why? They are universally accepted as such.)
Rather I will refer to those areas within this essay which caught my eye. From the very beginning, phrases such as: “everyone knows” are presented as statements of fact. Generic comments, in general, (no pun intended) cause my ‘wary radar’ warning signs to flash wildly. Why? The conclusion is immediate: the contents of the essay presented are not reflections of scientifically based information on social behaviors. In essence, pointing a finger at, under a generic “everyone knows” position, is always an assumption of grandiose proportions.
Also, making emotive statements such as: “if you walk away from another person feeling worse about yourself, there’s ‘a good chance’ you’ve been condescended to. . . .” is, again, a dangerous assumption. If accepted as a statement of probability, is it then possible to assume that there is an equal and opposite chance that ‘we could be somewhat, possibly, maybe, very, if not overly sensitive?'
We do live in an era of blended innuendos - where bullying insensitivities, micro- aggression sensitivities, victimhood, authoritarianism, right and left wing extremist actions and reactions strive to cohabit. All of these must be taken into account if we seek to establish credible terms of reference re human actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings.
The first described example of a behaviour considered by "people" to be condescending is: Explaining things that people already know.)
Why is it we assume another person knows we already know something? How do we conclude that their insistence on informing us of what we already know is a 'calculated' annoyance? How is it that we automatically determine this behaviour to be condescending? From an opposite viewpoint, is it possible. . . that it is we who are incapable of differentiating this purportedly calculated annoying action from the passion / awe being expressed (as in the reference example re Mandela)?
The very idea we assume someone is saying or doing something purposefully,without objective proof, is both arrogant and condescending. Does this not automatically self-elevate our perceptions of who and what is actually superior/annoying - and this should be the baseline for all?
The idea that everyone can read cues is a rather generalized expectation. It assumes we are all knowledgeable in the monstrously huge realm of psychology - and this in an area and time in which there is less and less direct contact among humans due to our digital attachments and virtual reality proclivities.
The generalized statement: “Anyone with a shred of self-awareness” falls into the generic category (again) of assumptions; if not superiority of perception. Self-awareness, self esteem, etc. are seriously important considerations - not because they actually are but rather because they are “in” - they determine who "fits in" and who doesn't. . .
What, in our era, is self awareness, self-esteem? It is the determination of who and what we are and how we should be based upon the determination of others within our society.
This is more a submissive consumerist stance than it is a valid self worth evaluation. It ignores, if not denies, the importance of self-respect which is a more accurate measure of our true worth as it usually would stem from a hopefully rigorous personal review of our own capacities and determinations in light of personal and societal commitments.
As for #7 : Demeaning nicknames like “Chief” or “Honey”
Yes. Chief may be a guy word and honey and sweetie a gal thing. . . That these are terms deemed to be condescending and/or dismissive is a rather dubious contention.
So, I'll stick to my primary argument. I remain wary of phrases such as "most people" know this or know that. Why? Because, at best, it is a rather flawed assumption and, at worst, a conceited perception. And objectively or factually, "most people" means nothing.
More to the point. I've experienced being called sweetie and honey many times in both my personal and professional travels. It is an endearment which I would consider odd in certain areas of the world and "oddly missing" in other circumstances. Such "different" verbal signs of recognition and acceptance are part and parcel of specific environments and how we perceive them is often a matter of our own over-sensitivities to, judgments of or reactions to "difference".
That being shared, I would suggest we should never determine such endearments as negatives in geographic areas such as the south of the United States or Bermuda (especially in regards to women calling someone “honey” or "sweetie"). We just may get our snooty duffs kicked out of the offended areas for “assuming” a superior perception of a warmth which at times openly flows from the heart of one motherly person to their closest relatives and at other times is a warm welcome or response to a stranger considered worthy.
Cultural practices are not universal and should not be treated as such by those who consider their viewpoints holier-than-thou. And in our era, where many cultures share common ground, we should be careful as to how we impose "our " considered superior communication habits.
Essentially, an evident “judging” of men who do this wrong or women who do that wrong is, in and of itself, an arrogant assumptive stance; a “they” should change their ways attitude, born within a realm of anxious perfectionist times. As previously stated, this is a dangerous proposition. It implies (appears to be) a demanding of others of that which we would never impose upon ourselves.
A Venice Evening - watercolour & gouache - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100. framed - SOLD
Une soirée vénitienne - aquarelle et gouache - 8" x 16" - $1100. encadrée - VENDU
Venice evenings are rarely the same. The colours of the hazed skies vary from aqua ro pinks and yellows and oranges and warm and cool greys. And the wters empty themselves as the sunsets bring on early and later dinners and the hordes of visitors and resilient Venetians head home for the day - before the evening events begin anew. . . To paint Venice is a privilege few are lucky enough to experience and be blessed by. What a painter misses here is not the fact that they have missed painting the variations of each season. No, what a painter is agrieved by is that he or she has not painted every day of their lives here. Thus the miracle of arriving in Venice and the drama upon leaving Her.
Les soirées vénitiennes varient, varient tellement qu'il n'y en a pas unes qui se copies les unes sur les autres. Elles sont toutes colorées de leur propre éclat, de leurs propre robes de pourpres et de bleues et de jaunes et/ou de violets éclatants - autant que par les manteaux gris chauds et froids des ciels qui s'échangent les fourrures de leurs nuages comme les soies variées des soleils. . . Peindre Venise est un privilège. Ce qu'on oublie c'est que les saisons ne comptent pas. Ce sont les humeurs de Venise en tout temps qui sont richement valables comme sujet de toiles. Ce sont ses couleurs, son architecture, ses gens, mais surtout ses humeurs qui y donnent une richesse sans pareil. L'arrivée à Venise est un miracle. La laisser une perte dramatique pour l'âme.
Bouillie, marée montante de la rive sud, Bermudes - aquarelle et encre - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100. encadrée
Incoming, High Tide, South Shore, Bermuda - watercolour & Ink - 8" x 16" - 2019 - $1100 framed
Le mouvement, le son des vagues, lorsqu'elles s'avancent, s'imposent, s'étale, s'étendent et disparaissent entre nos orteils pour en laisser une autre se déployer à nos pieds. . . Un ciel qui se transforme, une surface parfois rugueuse, acharnée, parfois lisse et soyeuse. On ne sait jamais ce que la mer veut nous dire. Tout ce qu'on sait c'est qu'elle raconte toujours, à perte de vue, formant toujours une autre inspiration, un autre rêve. Il n'y a rien de plus ennivrant que de créer sur place, devant elle, son portrait;, son portrait d'aujourd'hui.
There is nothing like it - the ever-evolving shapes and movements, and colours, and sounds of waves crashing over the sands, bringing in, pushing in an incoming tide, imposing itself further and further up upon the shore; ruffling and rolling the grains of coral sand and shell fragments before it. And all the while the ultramarine and cobalt skies dapppled in clouds and sunlight oversee the transformation of the green-blue watercolours of the mother lode. How privileged I am to sit and sketch and render it all - at least today's version of it.
Tête à tête / Concentration
Pas tout est bateau, eau et canal à Venise. Il y a tout de même les Vénitiens. Et ceux-ci, parfois, se permettent une distraction, une modernisation des rencontres, des partages. Pendant près d'une heure, ces deux bonshommes m'ont permit de réaliser une esquisse assez avancée - éventuellement terminée au studio à Ottawa.
Not everything in Venice is a boat, a canal, water. There are also Venetians, young and old. And some allow themselves, as we do, the luxury of a modern version of sharing and camaraderie. During nearly an hour, the total concentration of these two boys allowed me the privilege of rendering them - almost completing a full sketch before they moved on. I completed the drawing in Ottawa.
Bernard Poulin. . . I paint, I draw, I write