Saturday, April 7, 2012


   With the advent of the occupy movement last fall, a faint light has been shined on the "artworld" and all it's boils. The big money, the obnoxious sense of privilege, the superior attitudes and of course the slick, vacuous, overpriced art are periodically held up to ridicule by dred wearing, unwashed white kids, fresh from the drum circle. Of course it has little affect on a group so monied and powerful that anything short of a grenade attack on Sotheby's barely gets their attention. Where's the dinner party after the opening and are we invited?- is really the only concern.
   I had a small taste of this world as I was coming up in the 80's with my gallery MO David in the East Village. I would sit behind the counter of my little storefront space, watching cartoons, smoking a joint, a group of artists like Tony Oursler, Harry Kipper (Brian Routh), Robin Winters, Karen Finley, Richard Kern and others, coming and going, waiting for that limo to pull up and buy art. It was retail art sales in all it's glory. Once in a while the big stretch would stop on 9th and A and some fur wearing, jewel dripping, grande dame would step out and enter- nose in the air. Christ, I think they even wore monocles in those days. I'd quickly snuff out the joint, wave the air, turn off the TV and smile. It never worked. The rich saw right through me. They somehow sensed I wasn't one of the club. I'd hear them whispering. "Lets go to International With Monument or maybe Nature Morte." After three years as an art dealer in the art world, showing great artists, (who later went on to big careers) I barely sold a work. Disgusted, I closed the doors and started a rock band.
   The problem is it's easy to close a gallery, but not so easy to stop being an artist. In these heady times of twitter and facebook and whatever the next big thing is, being an artist is simultaneously easier and more difficult than it has ever been. Sure you can you can go to art school, have shows, get reviewed, sell work at big prices and die rich and famous. Or you can be an artist. Like the word "nigger" we some how have to take back this term and use it against those who would defile us. "Artworld" has less and less to do with art, as it does with money and hype to keep it worth something. Critics are no help. They just hype what sells perpetuating the cycle. Curators all have their heads up each other's asses. And collectors, museums, galleries? They have all let society down. They have no clue. They have so insulated themselves, filling every moat with hungry gators, that it would take the cast of SWAMP PEOPLE bum rushing the gates, .22s blazing, to even get an audience. What's the answer you ask?
   I'd say it's not to give a shit.....but that really doesn't work either. An artist does care. An artist wants to share his or her work. It's hard wired into all but a very few of us. Maybe Henry Darger and Ethelbert B. Crawford didn't care if their work was ever seen, but they are in the minority. My answer is to show. But show on your own terms. Show in your parents' basement. Show in the woods. Show off the road, around the bend, under the water, out back in the shed, up in a tree down by the river. Make it as tough for people to see your stuff as it is for them to pigeon hole you. Don't cow tow, suck up or kiss ass. Stick to you guns, until they pry them from your cold dead hands. And when the world beats a path to your door, put up the posted signs. And most importantly "my niggers"- fuck the Artworld. They know not what they do.    


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