What my silence buys

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately. The main thing… what the hell am I doing.

I suppose I’ve been playing to the gallery, which means I’ve been making right shit. This is the conundrum creatives face. I could try to work the market, follow the trends, ride the popularity of memes or themes or whatever people are consuming in the media. This is why mashups are popular. If I combine one pop thing with another, like a Darth Vader Corgi pup force wielding doggy treats at the Queen of England or some shit… that may be something people would get excited about. I could do that, and I don’t. I stay away from popular media and people and franchises not just because of copyright, but because -to me-, copying another person’s world is BORING AS FUCK.  -To Me-, if that’s how you roll I respect that but I just don’t get excited by what I see as riding coat tails of someone else’s imagination or visual imagery, even though I could make money off of being clever to circumnavigate the copyright and intellectual property.

Instead I do something just as wrong. Play it safe. Stick to topics I think I will be able to show. Work that isn’t too personal or too sensual or too raw. Pretty pictures. Safe pictures… and I’ve been dissatisfied for a long time now. I am bored by my own work. For the two or three people paying attention I’ve been working a website revamp. Most of the work has been removed because I don’t think it’s good enough.  In my mind I toy with the idea of having a bonfire and burning all the work that I don’t think is good enough, because what am I gonna do with it? Don’t worry, I’m not (mostly because I live in a condo and don’t really have access to making a fire big enough to do such a thing). I do think It’s time to properly move forward, and that means as a fine artist throwing illusions aside.

Mostly this means removing the notion of commercial success, or any financial success with the work. I don’t like fighting in a game that’s too hard to win. This isn’t a manifesto about not selling out. If you can sell your work to all the people, You GO and do that with my blessing. I’m all for people who find success however and wherever they find it. I just think that this avenue isn’t something meant for me with my fine art work.

I should say at this point that I don’t have a proper conclusion yet. Just ideas I’ve been thinking on for a while.

I know that, especially in my city, artwork that depicts sexuality or sensuality, and especially nudity, doesn’t get shown. The world has become more conservative, galleries who focus on sales (and rightly so) don’t want to invest in an artist that may make their clients uncomfortable. There are of course places that do show that kind of work, but not many and none near me. Sensuality is an aspect of the work, and for the market I currently know that’s too much.

I’m not saying I’m better than the market or the trends. Only that I find when people see the stuff I really want to make, it’s called ‘weird, uncomfortable’. I see people look and turn away and blush (WHICH IS AWESOME). I look at this as selling my intent. What I intend doesn’t matter. What does is the experience I can provide and the emotions I can invoke which is unpredictable because everyone reacts to things in their own way.

What you’re getting right now is a word vomit. I used to write this way more often but today this world and this internet is all about putting your best face forward and not saying anything too ‘much’… unless it’s some jerry springer drama crap, which I don’t invest in as a matter or pride (and it’s exhausting).

What I have around me right now are several blank canvases and small work mix media boards. I expect I will make more things to live in my closet that will likely end up in a landfill when I am dead… but I’ll share the good ones with you anyway.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be honest than safe.

4 thoughts on “What my silence buys

  1. It appears I’ve been uninformed about esthetic tastes here; I didn’t realize Cbus is so conservative.
    What if you painted what you want, penetrate the erotic hymen of the local art market with focus on a Valentine-themed show at a gallery, even if it’s a pop-up in some storefront.

  2. I think it depends on which Columbus you’re talking about. Galleries want to make money. It’s a hard business, especially now where people buy art online. Most ‘pro’ galleries don’t show nudes, or if they do it’s the safe classics nudes.

    There are ways to show controversial work, you’re right on that. Small spaces that aren’t connected to potential buyers, which is what’s really key. I could have a pop up show but as I am now I couldn’t pull in collectors that could drop a thousand or more on a painting, because with the hours I put in that’s the minimum I’d need to sell them for. For me personally the problem is my disconnect to that market. My problem is ‘how do I get my work seen by more than 30-50 people on gallery opening night?’

    I’ve been bumping my head on that problem for years. I actually did do a pop up show like this in a friend’s house in Franklinton years ago (at a mutual friend’s warehouse). I put as much effort as I could into promoting it at the time, got no press and maybe 30 people attending for the opening. Since it was basically a one day thing that was the limit of my exposure. One person did tip me a 50, but I sold nothing. There aren’t many spaces I can think of today where I can rent out an empty storefront for a week like they did back in the old Short North days where I could pull in passers by. Even the majority of the spaces in Franklinton keep their walls on the safe side now. Maybe possibly I could get a show at the Vanderelli room, the only place that works consider showing that kind of work, but it’ll be a year plus out at least and the advancing development may not wait that long. Controversial spaces are shrinking.

    Just because the work is made, that doesn’t guarantee an audience. What I’m sitting with is redefining success and accepting that the stuff I make will never leave me or may never be seen beyond a few posts online. Is that good enough? Or can I find a way to get seen somewhere else?

    I do think there’s an interest in that kind of work though. I do see work like that sold at the price points I would want to sell at so that’s encouraging. As of right now I don’t know of a local place that connects to that market. Maybe this is why higher end art collectors buy art in other markets than the local one. This is a problem I currently don’t have an answer for.

    These ramblings are me working to let loose, because playing it safe and compromising with work that is more conventional and less weird isn’t working for me personally. Even though that will probably mean it won’t get anything more than a small in person audience. Do I say what I want or say what I can? The creative says what they want, the business person says what they can. Question is, which am I. 😉

  3. Out of town galleries in your niche? I suspect you’ve thought of that, but I remember Duff Lindsey telling me his wide net of clientele are his market, that he doesn’t directly benefit from his upscale High St rent.

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