Publish or Perish

In this brave new art world since the Crash artists must learn to wear many different hats. Gone are the days of quietly working away in your studio, having one sell-out show a year and getting free publicity from all the media available. Now we have to be fully computer literate, navigate the social media quagmire, pay to "boost" our Facebook posts, keep the blog posts coming and find all the new venues for selling our work. Many of the national galleries are making artists pay "wall rent," and all the shipping of our pieces to and from the gallery, pay for half of all marketing for the work AND still want 50% of the sales. Museums won't even look at you unless you have an MFA after your name.

When did all this happen? Was this really the post-nuclear fallout of the Crash? The truth is — this change in the art world started about 25 years ago when museums started the mega-shows and making you buy tickets for them even if you have a membership card. At about the same time, universities started expanding their MFA programs, only recognizing neo-pop art as valid and began drowning us in installation art. Let's not forget the rise of the global Art Fairs. All the top-flight artists copy one another and these fairs are now looking like high-end art shopping malls. Most of the new work there is just, (excuse me), butt-ugly. 

But I digress. This was supposed to be a blog about media, which it is. All this feeds into my main point: the only good publicity left is local magazines and outlets in cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee. Local media doesn't care about galleries "wall rent," MFA's or art fairs. They want to publish what local people care about—what's happening in their city.

Many years ago a good friend and mentor said to me: "For artists, there is no such thing as good or bad publicity — if you're being written about, the people will come..."

Last week our local magazine The Pulse published their annual state of the arts issue which focuses on up-and-coming artists in Chattanooga. I was lucky enough to be one of the artists profiled for the issue. For the first time in a long time I wanted to read a magazine from front to back. Gary Poole, the editor of The Pulse, did a smashing job of balancing content with advertising and giving 12 local artists some free publicity while at the same time highlighting our careers through great freelance writing.

This is what the art world SHOULD be about. What are artists really doing? What are their passions as they work in the studio? Show me some great art of people I care about and help to keep art alive rather than perishing away quietly as the world sleeps.