Tuesday, September 30, 2008


It's a sad fact that some art galleries depend upon a rich clientele to keep going. It is also a fact that other art galleries charge their artists a membership fee to stay afloat (some in the neighborhood of $10,000), while still others declare a non-profit status and thus depend upon grants to keep their doors open. The questions that this raises are "Where is the public in all of this?" and "Who after all is art made for?" In those moments of wishful thinking does the artist see her work out there in the world for all to see (regardless of bank account)? Does she see art itself as something sacred, both the process and the result; that it can both soothe and outrage, and perhaps shine a light on something that others try to hide? That it can be a mirror for the artist herself, as well as for society at large; a reflection of the present, as well as a hope (or a warning) for the future? With all the artists who have ever lived and all the artwork that has been made, why do some people still feel that irrepressible need to express themselves? Instead of saying that it's all been done before, their actions speak resoundingly that some things still need to be said! The true artists at times cannot help but feel the vastness of Art, the gravity of the continuum of which they themselves are a part. So what does it mean when the platforms for presenting their artistic statements to the world are ignored (or at least not supported) by the very people for whom the artists create, namely, the public? And yes, there are artists who say that they "do it for themselves". But yet there must come a moment when they want to reach beyond their own skin. After all, if the work is universal then there is a longing on some level to present it to the universe! And this brings us back to our opening contention, that the majority of the public fails to give artists its support, which forces the above-mentioned vicious cycle upon the artists and the galleries, and forces us to ask, "If the public ignores our artists then is the art itself meaningless? And how do we respond as artists if those for whom we create are oblivious to our creations?"

And this begs another question as to what actually constitutes meaning. Many (including artists) need a roadmap to find this thing called meaning. And this roadmap consists of accolades, awards, grants, fame, fortune and the like, but upon examination is this really it? When we rely on the extrinsic for our validation, have we not traded in a concrete foundation for a house of cards? When we put our faith in the external as our raison d'etre, do we not mortgage our souls for the arbitrary and capricious; for that which goes on behind the scenes (in oft-times shadowy places)? The million dollar question: Is a work of art only great after it has been recognized by the so-called experts? Or in other words, is its worth dependent upon these outside forces, its intrinsic qualities invisible until pointed out by others?

And this calls to mind the proverbial "tree falling in the forest". Let us imagine a hermit living in the woods, far from the maddening crowd. He keeps to himself and only goes into town once a month for supplies, his life spent in his shack and the woods around it. When he no longer comes to town the storekeeper becomes curious, and after six months he ventures into the woods, to this place hidden from the rest of the world. Inside the shack he finds hundreds of paintings--beautiful, daring, original paintings that have never existed outside these simple walls. And the question then arises, "When is that moment when these works of art will be granted their existence?" To the world outside this may be a great discovery, but what did it mean to the hermit-artist? If something truly is does it need anything else? Or better, can we as human beings be satisfied without that echo from outside? For our mythical hermit-artist in the woods, the tree fell, and it was deafening.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008


Until recently I thought graffiti artists were about as "outsider" as you could get. First of all they literally worked outside! And second, what they did was and is illegal. Vandalism. Defacing public property, such as the outside (and inside) of buildings, bridges, subways, and trains. And this made them more like outlaws than artists. They had to work when people weren't looking (specifically the heat), and they had to work fast because you never knew who was about to come around the corner. So there was an element of Zen to their work, like ink drawing on rice paper. The spontaneity, the here-and-now, the fact that you couldn't linger or go back and correct your mistakes. There was danger. And I imagine no other artist would get the feeling of exhilaration upon completing a work as did the graffiti artist. So it was indeed surprising, when trying to curate a future show at KRONOS of New York City graffiti artists, that they weren't as "outside" as I thought. As the saying goes, "Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all become respectable if they last long enough." I'd like to think that when they were young Turks in the 1980's, dashing around NYC like invisible super heroes, leaving their mark, their tags wherever they went, that they would have looked with derision on the establishment, at the snooty, stuck-up art galleries of Manhattan, for they weren't about that, were they? But now it appears that the mainstream establishment has embraced these one-time renegades, and made "NYC graffiti artist" and "outsider artist" a good thing to list on one's resume. And the sad thing is that these one-time renegades are returning the embrace. If an "outsider artist" (who by definition shuns the mainstream) ends up coveting the mainstream you can call him a hypocrite, but if he ends up cheerfully accepting the mainstream then by definition he is no longer an "outsider artist", and you can rightfully call him a sell-out.

In trying to set up my show I discovered that these five particular one-time outlaws like perks, such as a free place to stay, gas money, having all their expenses paid, and one of them (I'll call him "Prima Donna") said he was even used to having art galleries fly him all over the world in jets so he can attend his own openings. Consequently, this guy didn't even want to come to Virginia because we were so low rent. So I asked another one of the graffiti artists if they might know some young, hungry, up-and-coming graffiti artists in New York. Someone trying to make a name for himself who wouldn't mind loading all the artwork in a van, schlepping it and the other artists down here, and kicking in for gas money. "We don't hang around kids," our 40-something outsider artist replied. I guess if you're 20 it's cool to be a rebel, an anarchist, an iconoclast, a struggling artist, but when you're pushing 50 you gotta get real and re-prioritize. If you're struggling in your 50's you're a loser. And I understand this, the erosion of the artist's soul. I even understand them wanting to tap into that mainstream river of money for a change. I mean, why not? But the thing is, that they are doing so by trading on their having been true outsiders once, back-in-the-day. And as reprehensible as this is (the word "sell-out" comes back to mind) it's the same reason there are Van Gogh calendars, coffee mugs, and mouse pads. If something's dead it can no longer be dangerous. It can no longer rock any boats so therefore it can become a commodity. The selling of their outsider status to the establishment for money and recognition may be justified by a crappy economy and a hard life lived in need of payback, but it's still being a sell-out and a hypocrite. I guess the question comes down to "Is one an 'outsider artist' simply because they can't get accepted by the insiders (as much as they might want to be accepted), or is one an 'ousider artist' because their art is their own, and they truly don't give a shit about what anyone (especially the establishment and its money-making machinery) thinks about them or their art?"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008


Our Solo Artist is Seattle's BOO DAVIS/QUILTSRYCHE and her heavy metal evil rock quilts in "The Show" room!

And in "The Collection" room, new and exciting work from Ezekiel Woods, Jasmine Austin, Brandon Wallace, Mauricio Esperon, Leslie Banta, Scott & Julie Keen, Diana Young, Jessica Martinkosky, Samone Riddle, Charlene Schillinger, Eric, & K-Pac.

Monday, September 1, 2008


FRIDAY, AUGUST 29th, 2008!
What other art gallery has openings like this!!! (Word!) Click on link below for a 2 1/2 minute video slideshow...

Quote of the Month (September)

"We'll fight the powers that be just
don't pick our destiny 'cuz
you don't know us, you don't belong!"
--Twisted Sister