My visit to Manhattan, with a brief stop for dinner in Brooklyn after walking across that glorious bridge likewise named for that borough, was as it always is… super!
The trees were in spring bloom, while the April air was still invigoratingly crisp. I was able to enjoy a wonderful presentation of Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera, and what could be better than a rainy day matinee performance of Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit with Angela Lansbury.
The real purpose of my visit, as you know, was to explore the art scene, specifically with an eye on photography. Feeling dismay, sensing understandable confusion…, it seems being “mystified” may be the word summation that best expresses my overall experience.
Some people whom I know to be intelligent, although not necessarily artistic, will give the old cliché “art is in the eye of the beholder” (actually, it’s “beauty”). When I hear this I know they are thinking about love and their emotional experience, or otherwise, and in many cases true, they’ve become puppets to the masters of marketing pulling the purse strings. Can we talk?
Emotional qualifications are like mist from the vaporized tears of the beholder; they can put a blanket of fog over any reflection on art history or blur an untrained eye to skilled creative craftsmanship. And if evaluations are made solely on marketing savvy we can then value art by the speed it is produced or reproduced, the efficiency of its production, or on the new basis of its “green-ness.” In this exhibit it would then be expedient to simply frame currency. Nevertheless, emotions and marketing often rule the art scene – until death do us part, and in the meantime, neither fully fulfills a culturally enriching point of view.
These two factors in more recent times have had a heavy hand on the art scene. The beholders, often with a severely limited background in the visual arts “know what they like.” I think there is unanimous agreement as to what most people like… most; money and its derivatives – celebrity and fame. Many will follow the road to success, to riches, hopefully and blindly, as exemplified by one marketer, Bernie Madoff, who paved the way. Marketing, after all, focuses on getting the biggest bang for the buck. It’s about the cover, not the book. It’s about clothes, not the person. This is not expressing condemnation; it is stating facts. They are not universal, but increasingly predominant. Great art has great integrity. It will stand the test of time. But as in any aspect of living, if we are to expect a more immediate and positive effect for real change in the art scene, we need to have an honest debate.
But this is my opinion… an opinion formed through decades of devotion in embracing the visual arts, in particular the history and practice of photography. I wanted to begin writing about my experiences exploring the Big Apple art scene by asking the reader to intellectually challenge, not the freedom of the beholder or the principles of the market, but the basis beholding and marketing without merit. The true formula is M&M, a market with merit. In addition to the test of time, merit can only come into focus through knowledge of a medium and the skill and talent of its execution.
Therein lies part of the confusion, as explored in Part 2, the next edition. Find more information at www.jamesschotgallerystudio.com. You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 954-564-1112….