Friday, July 7, 2017
The "Professional Artist" Big Lie
But, in fact, there are, factually, only two kinds of artists : amateur and commercial.
One makes no money, or very little money, off their artistic activity.
The other makes a living, or a goodly portion of their income, off the sales of their art activity.
The only Nova Scotian artist I can think offhand who made her life-long living off selling art to individuals, rather than public galleries buying it up to indirectly provide a taxpayer subsidy, was Maude Lewis -- though I fear she fails in all other categories on the Arts Nova Scotia listing.
Now in the murky arena of human opinion, and not fact, all of us delight in dividing artists in great artists and ho hum artists - a subject where disagreements are widespread and eternal.
This subjective area of quality lies well outside the interests of a would be professionl artist : their true aim lies in becoming , not to put too fine a point on it, a public tax dollar "taker".
They all seem to have a very well-padded CV, having been to all the right kinds of schools, have all the right kinds of references from all the right kind of au courant artists, have performed or displayed at all the right kind of institutional and (semi) commercial venues.
They have attended all the right sort of openings and parties and conferences, seen by all the right sort of people, hold the right sort of opinions.
But most of their 'art' income, in fact, is 'taken' from the public taxpayer.
Some of it received directly in the form of grants to 'do' art work and art thinking --- or as stipends to be artists in residences or visiting artist.
More often it is received indirectly, in the taxpayer support given to non-profit institutions that buy art activities and then display to the public.
These institutions often buy these art activities, out of a sense of duty, or to show they are aware and supportive of up and coming trends.
Their faint hope is that eventually these artists will move up to commercial venues where the buyers will make their purchases because they love the art for itself.
Not as an investment that might be 'donated' to a public gallery as a tax deductible donation.
A 'professional artist' can also be defined as one picked by a jury of their fellow professional artists (cum tax dollar sponges) to receive tax payers' money without the taxpayer having any say in the matter.
If artists were professional on the basis that others are judged true professions, ie those occupations that are involved in areas where public safety is a high concern, then boards would certify that these 'professional artists' tells their clients when hazardous materials are used - or perhaps at a lower level - certifies that all their materials have the longest possible life when exposed to UV and the air.
I have no doubt that the respect given to professionals, rather than seeing the public protected from such mudane things, are what are these wannabe 'professional artists' are seeking.
They fear that without being called 'professionals', art granting juries would all look like crimnal court juries, being made up of ordinary people, with the grants going to artists who produce art that ordinary people like, rather than producing art that people need.
Providing strong art that like medicine is foul tasting but ultimately good for you.
Rather like 1930s era Reithian Art...