Someone needs to apologize. I mean it. Because its clear that things aren’t going smoothly and someone’s obviously to blame. The works are gummed up and the sheets are soiled. Some miscreant has just tracked mud through the clean kitchen floor. And if we ask the folks who are in charge its quite obvious who the guilty are. Just look at this list of complaints that galleries have about artists. How much inconsiderate behavior are galleries supposed to put up with, really? (From an online e-course designed to straighten artists out)
Mistake #1: Presenting an inconsistent body of work.
Mistake #2: Producing insufficient work to sustain gallery sales.
Mistake #3: Delivering a portfolio in a format inconvenient for gallery review.
Mistake #4: Lacking confidence and consistency in pricing.
Mistake #5: Approaching the wrong galleries.
Mistake #6: Submitting art through the wrong channels.
Well, well, well…. Isn’t that just horrifying?
Its simply galling what artists try to get away with! Stubborn willful artists simply can’t be trusted to play by the rules. Don’t they know that doing things ‘the right way’ is for their own good? They get it wrong and spoil it for the rest of us. How utterly selfish! Just think of the mind numbing back breaking inconvenience to those kindly angelic gallery owners. Its a wonder most galleries are content to only take 50% of sales and not more, just for the sake of principle.
If artists are responsibly adult enough about it they had better get down on their knees and apologize. Beg forgiveness for the inconvenience they cause. Its simply unconscionable that artists try pulling a fast one and do things the way they want. Without any consideration or sensitivity to the difficulty this causes the galleries! As if artists are entitled to some say. As if what they wanted actually mattered. Preposterous! Oh the temerity of it!
So there’s a system in place. If you want to play the game these are the rules. Is that so hard to understand? There are no other rules. There is no other game. If you don’t want to play you can pack up your toys and run home to your mommy and have a good cry. “Poor me! Nobody understands me!” Boo hoo…….
One of the biggest offenses in recent times has been artists trying to pedal pots as legitimate art. What are they thinking?! Isn’t it obvious that pottery is NOT art? Just look at it. I mean, its three dimensional but its not sculptural. And if its got an interesting surface its still not as important as something like painting. Even if the pots were painted on isn’t it obvious that pots are not paintings? Sure, paint murals on the walls of buildings, scraps of tin, old boards and newsprint. Those are things we properly revere and shine the limelight on. Just don’t think that you can do something ‘interesting’ on the side of a pot and call it “Art”…….
I mean, we can’t sell mugs in Art galleries. Galleries have to pay the bills, don’t they? Selling mugs hardly supports the Art business. You’d have to sell two-hundred and twenty-five $40 mugs just to cover one of these $9,000 sculptures.
Thank the heavenly muses that these are not ordinary pots! I mean, they might look like pots, but the price tag alone should tell you that the right people have seen it and determined that this is art and not pottery. If someone stuck some dried flowers in one of these the price would simply plummet. People would be confused. “Is it art? Or am I supposed to use it as an ashtray?” It would be like using the Mona Lisa as a placemat at Wendy’s. You just don’t make art work. Its not supposed to do anything. And for too long ceramic sculpture has been tainted by its associations with sweaty humble usable pots. Thankfully, as Alison Jacques (owner of the Alison Jacques Gallery) says, “Ceramic was once seen as pottery. Now it’s contemporary art.” Praise be! Glad we cleared that up.
Isn’t it obvious why mere pottery is inferior to these magnificent and engaging, erm… sculptures? No collector in their right mind would be willing to get saddled with a few dozen of even the finest mugs (let alone several hundred) if they can get their hands on one of these superlative creations instead. And its the gallery owner’s business to tell them that. For their own good. Sometimes these collectors don’t know what they are looking at so you have to lead them through the different things to care about. Pottery? Blah. Seen it all before. Not interested. There is nothing much about pots to draw the attention of Art galleries. If you could pay them to be interested that would be another matter…..
But pots don’t sell for much. Why would they? 50% 0f $40 simply isn’t enough for the time it would take to argue a mug’s worth to some collector. Galleries actually lose money selling pots….. One 4′ x 6′ panel on a wall is more profitable with a painting in it than 12,000 square feet of gallery space crammed with pedestals filled with pots. Think about it. What Art gallery in their right mind would show pots when they could slap a few paintings on the wall and a few sculptures on pedestals?
Dead artists, on the other hand, are always a potential for vogue, and even dead potters can take on a relative sheen of glamour. That’s it, potters! Hurry up and die. We’ll make you famous then! Wink wink! Six feet of cold hard earth is just about the only thing that can enhance the reputation of potters in an Art market…..
So either get out your hankies and have a good cry or make something other than pottery. And if you are stuck on making pots just know that your stubborn refusal to bow down to the way the Art game is played is insulting to the folks who are in charge. It questions their authority and pretends they don’t know what they are talking about. If you are a potter or some other misbehaving artist you had better apologize and make things right. Make the right things, in other words…. Don’t you feel better now? You can dust off your knees. Lets hope that didn’t hurt too much.
I hope everyone knows this is a parody of how serious the art industry sometimes genuinely seems to take itself. Some gallerists actually are angelic, and not every gallery scoffs at pots. There is a pervasive mythology, however, and the unwitting can often be easily seduced by it. Galleries themselves often align on either side of the perceived division between ‘Art’ and pottery. Keeping these things distinct in space only perpetuates keeping them distinct in our minds.
But if the world is slowly changing artists and potters in particular need to learn to stick up for themselves. Its too often accepted that we will simply bow down to the browbeatings we receive against our self interest and the interest of our art. We often behave like the victims of kidnappings who develop sympathetic and protective feelings for their captors, a twisted art version of the Stockholm Syndrome. If anyone needs to apologize for the way things stand I’m not so sure its artists.
Its almost like we were involved in a mugging and are being blamed for the inconvenience we give to the muggers…. We’ve got what they want, or if we don’t we’d better get our sh-t together. That’s the way this game seems to work. And artists are often eager to play because they don’t know any better. We can’t see outside the cage that has been constructed for us. And artists see the few examples who have made it, scored the big pay out. Is it any wonder poor artists want the big score too?
But the system is rigged. If reputation is what sells not everyone can be put forth as deserving. Its not and never will be a level playing field as things stand. But artists persist in this wishful thinking. Its almost like poor people voting for tax cuts to the rich because they hold the dream of one day owning the big mansions and fancy cars….. Its this dream that helps struggling artists line up for their institutional beatings and suffer the indignities with hardly a complaint.
That seems worth thinking about: If the system itself is corrupt, unfairly biased, or disadvantageous to all but a few, who exactly is it that needs to apologize? The 99% or the 1%?
Make beauty real! (Only you can)