I am having a conversation. I am not whining. I don't think the artists I know are whining. We are having a discussion.
I did see the Gees Bend show in Milwaukee and I did meet many of the women in Chicago at the Northern Trust Bank and I met, listened to a lecture by and had a conversation with Bill Arnett. I did not meet the band of woman art historians. Who are they? Please name a few with some documentation.
I am not certain what others know, but I do understand that a body of work is necessary for a museum or even a gallery exhibition. I also understand that Kerry James Marshall's solo exhibition at the MCA , "One True Thing", was a compendium of styles and ideas by one artist as well as work by other artists, not usually considered the methodology of a solo exhibition. I was invited to attend the garden party video where Dawoud Bey, Candida Alvarez, Kerry's wife Cheryl and others were part of Kerry's video shown during the exhibition. Bey's son was there, too!
I certainly have not gone to every show and lecture, but I make quite a few. I missed Thelma Golden atColumbia because I had the incorrect address. I did not see McLin or many African American artists at the public panel discussion by curators from the MCA last October informing artists how to get their work seen. Only one black person showed up for a panel discussion on women artists led by Sabina Ott, the chair of art at Columbia that I put together. Didn't see McLin there. I was at Art Chicago on Thursday evening for the preview and on Sat. for 5 hours after working at my university until 5pm. I also made sure my university, Chicago State University was a partner, mounting a student and a faculty exhibition that were included in the Artropolis materials.
Don't know who made it to Tony Fitzpatrick's opening on May 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center. It was a huge crowd. I was there. (Got a great photo of Tony and his brother in their hats.)
Paul Klein has mentioned my work in his Artletter and I was chosen by Kevin Nance as one of his top ten exhibitions, along with Preston Jackson for the YEAR 2007 (after a glowing review Sept. 21, 2007).
I have raised two sons while my husband traveled, was press secretary for a Chicago mayor and a correspondent for Newsweek with no family to help me, and I still worked and entered exhibitions.
I know many women, men and children who are productive, produce cohesive and intelligent bodies of work and go to social events. I contributed art to the Illinois Arts Alliance fundraiser purchased by one of their high-powered board members. That was right before Ed Pashke died. He and collagist Allen Stringfellow both contributed art so it was a selective group of artists.
Speaking of Stringfellow. I brought him and David Philpot to the President's Gallery at Chicago State when Bob Weitz was the curator. Asa result Stringfellow had two pieces added to our collection. I knew them and Bob did not.
I have been on focus groups as the CAR (Chicago Artists Resource was developed). I single-handedly developed the concept that links Woman Made, Arc and Intuit Galleries called MAAC. I developed exhibitions for many galleries. Kerry Marshall even contributed work to one. Preston Jackson to another one.
Every year I recommend Dawoud Bey to be the photographer for Chicago Artists Month. I have been on that advisory board for seven years! (Susan Aurinko, from Flatfile, came up with a possible way for him to do it, despite his demanding schedule. We'll see!)
It will take too long to say all I have contributed and networked. I have won a number of awards so I guess people like my work. They include Faith Ringgold, Martin Puryear, Madeline Rabb and Margaret Hawkins.
Oh, and I assembled the juror and found artists to submit to "Women of the African Diaspora", at Woman Made Gallery that Kym Pinder juried. I have curated numerous Sapphire and Crystals exhibitions and have one coming up in January. Two were selected by the Dept. of Cultural Affairs as meeting their highest standards for Chicago Artists Month and selected as one of 12 featured programs.
Artists need to network, but I for one, also need time to work. I am as stretched as I can be.
I think I have ideas about what I need to do next. Don't know if it will happen, but I am an artist who just is compelled to work, whether it is seen or purchased is secondary.
I know plenty white artists who also want to move forward and think the playing field is unfair.
My point is to move us all forward. I will soon post an email from a friend of mine from Philadelphia who has some interesting suggestions.
by Joyce Owens