Today's postings

  1. [Baren 38223] Re: why they should buy it (Annie Bissett)
  2. [Baren 38224] too many artists (Plannedscapes #
  3. [Baren 38225] RE: too many artists ("Mike Lyon")
  4. [Baren 38226] Re: too many artists (carol Montgomery)
  5. [Baren 38227] Re: why they should buy it (Barbara Mason)
  6. [Baren 38228] Re: why they should buy it (ArtSpotiB #
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Message 1
From: Annie Bissett
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 13:31:52 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38223] Re: why they should buy it
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Andrew, no need to apologize for your post yesterday about art's
place in the world and why people buy or support art. I too really
appreciated it, and I meant to say so but got carried away by the
day's demands.

After spending a day at the Boston Printmakers' Biennial last week
and watching which pieces sold, it was good to hear you say that
people may appreciate a piece of art that's challenging or fresh but
when they buy they mostly want to buy pretty art. That confirms what
I saw at the show. There were some very strong pieces that were
acclaimed, but it was the softer gentler pieces that sold. I'm trying
not to modify my art-making to suit "the market" (as I might imagine
it), but it's hard not to include market concerns once one embarks on
any kind of selling. Using moku hanga as my medium helps keep me
honest, though, as the investment of time and energy is so huge it
forces me to choose a topic/image I'm deeply interested in.

And I think your assertion that a lot of art is sold because the
buyer has a relationship with the artist is right on. If I look
around my own home at the art I've purchased, I've bought it either
because I have a relationship with the artist or deep feeling for the
person, place or thing depicted or because I've learned something
about the artist's process that I'm impressed with. (I woke up to
Gustave Baumann when I saw his carved blocks.)

Or, as printmaker Anita Hunt said to me at the Biennial, "You just
never know what's going to sell."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

best to all, Annie
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Message 2
From: Plannedscapes #
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 14:28:58 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38224] too many artists
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Are there too many artists?
That sort of thinking comes from the idea that to be successful there must
be of some sort of fame. It is not that there are more artists per capita but
that there is more 'capita'. When the population is smaller, their artists
are fewer and then 'commonly' known. When the population is larger, everyone
knows about different artists and there is not the tendency for one to
become that favorite famous one. Like when the country doctor was known to all
but now that the town is 10x the population and has 4 doctors, there isn't the
feeling that any one is so 'well-known'. So there are probably not any more
artists 'per capita' than ever, but it i harder to feel 'recognized'. And
when there was one famous artist in the area, every one KNEW that was the art
to own and that helped them decide to buy and want it. Now that there are 10x
the people and 10 local artists, it makes it harder for them to decide. I
go back to my idea that people need to be taught that they should buy what
they LOVE when they see it with no regard to who it is by and how famous they
might be or whether the painting or print or drawing or photograph might
'appreciate' as an investment.
And I think that EVERYONE should be doing art. I teach classes in various
things now and then. I blog about the scarf painting class here:
_go prairie: My Scarf Painting Class_
What they get from the class is this:
1) They can do it too and make something pretty!
2) They see I might have some special spark that makes mine stand out. Not
BETTER than theirs, but unique.
3) They are not going to invest in the equipment and supplies that I brought
to share with them and so they now value the scarves I have for sale and
might buy one.
I think EVERYONE should be able to do art. There should be open studios
where a person can go for an hour or two a week and tinker and 'make something'.
I think those people don't become our competitors and therefore dilute our
marketability, but they become 'appreciators' and buy from us or others like
us. And they have the enhanced self-esteem of knowing they are creative too.

Wouldn't it be gift to reveal and expose the creativity of everyone?
Wouldn't that create MORE market for those who DO want to invest the time and
invest into the materials and supplies and equipment?
THis would represent a cultural change in a way of moving art into the
populous, yet still having the producer experts doing it full time, and maybe
that would be making it seem more of a 'craft' but would that be okay if we who
want to make a living that way could?
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Message 3
From: "Mike Lyon"
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 16:23:43 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38225] RE: too many artists
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Seems to me that the valuation,"too many artists," is an expression of our
culturally deeply-imbedded invention of 'commerce,' especially recent (last
50 years) theories of 'supply and demand' - an expression that the relative
inelasticity of demand in the face of 'too much supply' reduces price. That
may be overly concise, but you catch the drift? The AMA seems to have quite
consciously tackled this problem by limiting the number of medical schools
and students in order to keep supply of accredited doctors small enough and
their income high enough. Pharmaceutical companies have been even more
effective (in the USA) at the same sort of limiting supply in the face of
growing demand and netting huge profits. It seems doubtful that artists
will ever be successful through those means.

Years ago, as I drove to work early in the morning, a huge half-moon hung
low in the sky lit by the just-rising sun and I had a musical sort of
gestalt. For the first time, I directly grokked the slow dance of the moon
moving in an undisturbed and (relatively) eternal balance of attraction and
inertia, illuminated so starkly by the sun as we, like 'our' moon danced and
danced with the Sun. I still USUALLY just see 'the moon' in the usual way,
a marvelous light in the sky.

I think most of us USUALLY sorta just take for granted money and commerce as
if they are like the moon and sun. But they are not - commerce is
completely an invention of the mind and the product of our collective
'agreement.' It seems to me that 'profit through trade' and 'ownership' and
'making stuff' are fundamentally unrelated inventions growing out of our
desires/impulses. MOST 'art,' I think, is never intended for commerce and
everyone, almost, has the impulse to make stuff (art stuff)! Artists are
less than a dime a dozen - we're ALL artists!!!! It's when we begin to
consider 'making a living' through art that we start having trouble!

Printmaking, however, generally IS naturally more connected directly to
commerce, I think, because it is (generally) multiples and takes advantage
of economies of scale - design once, then assembly-line production
techniques to produce many similar copies relatively quickly and easily,
presumably for distribution (trade), right? Why else make an edition of 10
or 30 or 100 of something? Not something most of us do solely for our own
pleasure and enjoyment?

Someone linked art with religion several posts back. To me, that's pretty
close, so long as religion means 'passion' rather than 'church' -- organized
religion seems to me to be much too closely linked with commerce to have
much in common with art. But art, passion, spiritualism, invention - these
seem to have something in common!

Well, my ideas (as usual) are sorta half-baked, but there they are, my two


Mike Lyon
Kansas City, MO
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Message 4
From: carol Montgomery
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 16:47:15 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38226] Re: too many artists
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Hi,All - I don't think that there are too many artists - there aren't enough people who buy original art. Have you seen what people hang in their homes? It's usually commercially made and printed and not handmade. Carol Montgomery
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Message 5
From: Barbara Mason
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 17:04:06 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38227] Re: why they should buy it
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It takes a sophisticated art buyer to purchase strong and challenging art. Sadly there are not many out there but we keep making art anyway. It is who we are. And those who know us support us.
My best
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Message 6
From: ArtSpotiB #
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 20:00:44 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38228] Re: why they should buy it
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What a great set of comments lately. I thank several of you for giving me
ammo. Next time I hear "too many artists" I'll actually have something to say
rather than just thinking my usual "WHAT IS THIS!!!". One of my early art mentors
is the one who has been saying this to me for years. He's not an artist...
but has been a curator in various museums and is now retired.

That "everyone is an artist" (which I deeply believe and have observed too)
brings to mind a story about an art work that I nearly purchased while still
sweet and in my late teens. I saw a fellow's fabulous paintings while taking the
same class at a recreational center. I was ready to give over my very scarce
dollars when I made the mistake of asking him what the painting meant. An
abused, emotionally disturbed and retarded fellow, he told me a horrifying
autobiograpahical tale. We all were so happy to see him come in the door as we knew
that the center was his refuge. In those days there wasn't much one could do
for a person trapped in such a situation. I still regret my reaction of not
buying the work. He never knew. And now I know so much better.

The commentary on population and ratios of purchasers was so excellent. I've
been watching The Teaching Company's lectures on dvds. These college level
courses are worth their prices though I await their sales. Currently watching the
tail end of "Art of the Northern Renaissance". One of the more interesting
facets has been to learn more of how earlier art sales started and then changed.
Works were often commissioned. Originally guilds controlled where art could
be sold. Much of religious art appeared to have been created to teach an illi
terate population as well as for the wealthy and churches.

During the 15th century, churches held fairs in their courtyards, acting as
hosts for their communities. Items for sale included art. When the religious
reformation began the clientele changed as churches were no longer acquiring art
and in fact, much was intentionally destroyed. Reformers considered sculpture
especially wrong. Those artists suffered the most financially.

Not to get too detailed here but a separate building was created around this
time so that painters and printmakers could sell their wares separately from
the church. Built as a square, it had an arcade and a courtyard. The first art
dealers started being registered with the guilds near this time. I wish I
could express all this in the interesting way that the dvd lectures do.

The Baffin Island area printmakers story that relates to another post.
Impoverished by outsider standards, the native population there was taught
printmaking as a way to improve their financial situation by a Canadian government
plan. The Baffin artists use stones for relief printmaking, with topics limited to
their traditional ways by fiat. Essentially the prices are kept high by an
artificial scarcity. I'm sorry that I can't recall much of the details... but I
do know that the Canadian government later sent a man set up a system for them
regarding sales. That system was enforced when a few started to wander from
the original setup. Since access to the geographical area is by plane for the
most part, this was possible. I can't imagine any other group of artists in
current day times being so self disciplined as to have such a marketing method.
Herding cats, you know. And I sure don't want any govenment doing it either.

Hope I haven't bored those who actually reached the end of this post. I've
been called "pithy" tho that may be a misspelling.

ArtSpot Out
Benny Alba in studio

"Don't give up. It just hasn't found it's owner yet" Artygalz, aol chat room
pal regarding art sales.