It’s no secret that as an artist or gallerist, you’re not likely to see many zeros on your paycheck. Although the ‘starving artist’ trope is largely over-exaggerated, it is often incredibly difficult for those who don’t come from a position of wealth or influence to make it very far in this industry.
I’ve been a little removed from my blog for multiple reasons- between work and actually going out to look at art, it’s become difficult to find the time to sit down and write about it. This weekend I was privileged to work as an artist’s assistant for a lovely artist by the name of Yasi Alipour for a downtown Manhattan arts festival.
Hey all! I apologize for the delay in the September gallery review, I’ve been fairly busy in my personal life as of late (including some upcoming projects that I’ll talk about later). This month I’d love to take a moment to briefly talk about a tiny little gallery just in SoHo.
Recently I began volunteering as a “gallery babysitter” at a tiny space in the middle of the Essex Street Market in NYC. When I first wandered in to see the space, I was ecstatic to see one of the contemporary artists they’re currently featuring has been a favorite of mine for some time.
With everything that’s been going on in the world as of late and so many emotions stirred up, it’s important not to let one of the most powerful modes of expression go to waste- art.
“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.”
–Former President Barack Obama
This past week we bid farewell to a president who, although not without glaring faults, made history and overall did well for this country as a whole. Unfortunately, in his place we face a man who has glorified sexual assault, appointed individuals who are laughably ill-suited for major positions, and has recently made it known that he plans to completely cut the funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities- as well as the National Endowment for the Arts.
All the money (Shy of $150 million for the Nat’l Endowment for the Arts in 2016) that currently goes to supporting artists and critical art education through grants provided to both individuals and organizations would be completely removed from the federal budget. It’s not like cutting the two will make much of an impact on it either, together they made up a minuscule 0.006% of the total federal budget in 2016, which begs the question- If it makes such an incredibly small impact on the budget, why cut it- especially when schools around the country have already cut arts funding? …Well, honestly, why wouldn’t he? Generally speaking, the art world is particularly left-leaning, and artists themselves can often possess fairly radical ideologies including Marxist, Anarchist, Stalinist, and even Maoist thought, very foreign and likely unsettling to such a staunch businessman and capitalist like himself. So, once the general media is discredited and can no longer speak out against him, it only makes sense to attempt to do the same with the arts.
Obviously, we can’t let that happen. The arts- writing, painting, theater, dance, and music- must continue to express the thoughts of the general populace whether the government wishes to support them or not. We as a global community have proven merely two days ago that we are able to band together and look past our differences to stand up for each other, and that can’t end here. There has already been a movement of artists creating art to react against our newly inaugurated President, putting together ‘Nasty Women’ art exhibitions from Portland to Amsterdam- many of which donated the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
Get out there and pour your heart out. We need your voice.
Vandalism is illegal, right? That’s common knowledge, I’m sure. But what about when you take something ordinary and make art out of it? How can society dictate what’s art and what’s vandalism?
Street Art began as quite possibly the only truly subversive art form in recent years. I don’t mean that lightly, as the word subversive is tossed around to describe artists from Jeff Koons (you can read my opinion of him here) to Lady Gaga, but very few artists actually deserve the adjective. However, street art- whether it’s “good” art or not, is still illegal on it’s home turf.
Beginning simply as artists tagging public property, the stencils slowly grew more elaborate and the messages in the work became more overtly anti-establishment. Despite how common graffiti has been, it didn’t break into the art scene officially until Banksy’s 2006 solo show in Los Angeles, Barely Legal, which had people lining up outside the doors- including art collectors.
Since then, street art has made a marked move into the contemporary art scene, taking many of the large names out of the streets and plopping them in galleries. Art collectors have since started snapping up works from Shepherd Fairey and Mobstr- and of course Banksy.
Since street art’s recent popularity in galleries, the question still remains- does it really belong there? Does the work being in the gallery (legally) to be viewed by a specific ‘art crowd’ as opposed to being in the street (generally illegally) and viewed by everyone who passes by? Personally, I believe it does detract from the statement of the work, but if allows the artists to make a living doing what they feel they’ve been called to do, does that make it worth it?
In honor of National Coming Out Day, I want to discuss something largely forgotten by the LGBTQ+ generation of today- the AIDS crisis.
Eric Rhein was a young artist living in the East Village of Manhattan in the 1980s, where he witnessed many friends and lovers go through the struggle of living with HIV and AIDS. And then, in 1987, he found out he was HIV positive. Out of fear for his career, he kept the information secret for years until he found a few people he felt he could trust, and they helped him become comfortable enough to be open about his fight. Unfortunately, shortly after his courageous step he took a turn for the worse and ended up hospitalized for a stretch of time.
Referring to the time he spent at St. Vincent’s Hospital as his “Artist Residency”, the whole experience was brimming with creativity and inspiration. He felt the presence of everyone he lost to the disease around him, particularly in the leaves he found on the ground outside during his walks. Thus, his internationally collected and ongoing Leaves project began, in which he dedicates a wire silhouette of a leaf he traced to a friend with AIDS who passed away.
In his own words, “One by one, I picked up leaves until a host of kinsmen was gathered in my arms. In death, they continue to be the teachers that they were in life, generously sharing with me the gifts of their individual attributes.”
Currently, there are over 250 portraits.
We lost almost an entire generation to the AIDS crisis, and since there are so few left to tell their stories, it feels like few talk about it. Please, take some time to remember the history as you celebrate today.
(If you’re interested in learning more about the AIDS crisis in the LGBT community, I highly recommend the documentary We Were Here, available to stream on both YouTube and Netflix.)