As we near the end of this year's annual Chicago Artists Month I have tried to see as many exhibitions as possible, and there were, and still are some great ones to be seen... The card below is for Chicago State University's Chicago Artists Month program and Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, in the President's Gallery.
I think back to 2001 when I was invited to join the Chicago Artists Month Advisory Committee.
I was gung-ho!
One of the first tasks the committee addressed was coming up with a theme for the month of artists exhibitions, discussions, tours, demonstrations, and more.
I really wanted to promote the idea that artists WORK, just as other professionals do. "Artists at Work" was what I proposed, but I thought it might get flushed out and made fancier. It didn't. And that title has been used for Artists at Work forums convened by The Department of Cultural Affairs for artists since then.
I had hoped that exploring this theme would help to debunk some of the mysteries around art making, and also challenge artists and others to accept that it takes hard labor, physical and mental, to produce art, and is not an easy path for most of us.
I had hoped, too, the label of "work" would translate into the phrase "work for pay".
Professional artists are often asked to give away art for free, but if making art is work, shouldn't we always get paid?
Those who request the free art should really start to understand that you get better art when the artist shares in the profits, not because we don't want to support the cause but, simply because an artist cannot afford to give away their income.
So, here I go again, describing what artists do, because I know most people love art and want to know more about artists.
Artists think art:
It takes thought, introspection, experience to find ideas and then figure out how to execute them.
I found this great list on Art Junction. Yeah, we are different. We all knew that from when we were little kids. My grandmother thought I was weird!
- looking at things more closely than most people do.
- finding beauty in everyday things and situations.
- making new connections between different things and ideas.
- going beyond ordinary ways of thinking and doing things.
- looking at things in different ways in order to generate new perspectives.
- taking risks and exposing yourself to possible failure.
- arranging things in new and interesting ways.
- working hard and at the edge of your potential.
- persisting where others may give up.
- concentrating your effort and attention for long periods of time.
- dreaming and fantasizing about things.
- using old ideas to create new ideas and ways of seeing things.
- doing something simply because it's interesting and personally challenging to do.
Above: "The Thinker" by Auguste Rodin, 1879-1889, Bronze.
Everyone has not been exposed to artists, and been to an artists home or studio. My quote lately has been, "My art has eaten my house!". I have my work and other artists work everywhere and then there are books and magazine and more...people who like art love it. People who prefer conventional order are probably aghast!
Artists make art:
It's not only a gift from God, inherited from your uncle or mother; it takes HARD labor, aka practice and consistency, to develop abilities.
I am really tired of hearing about artist's "gifts", when it denies the other attributes.
Image left: from Kyle Anderson's sketch book. My son learned to draw by drawing.
Artists make art:
Well, some don't make it at all. Some conceptualize it through writing or drawing, perhaps photography, a fabricator may make it from a design. So artists have to plan ahead. It's not accidental. But it's still work.
Artists make art:
A separate studio is an ideal place to make art. That costs MONEY! One of the reasons artists need to be paid. (If you like it enough to ask for it for free, you should like it enough to pay for it!)
Artists critique art:
Some artists will say that all their work is good just because they say it is.
OK. Sometimes it is.
Some artists are NEVER self-critical? Those artists may also believe their gift from God requires no additional work (studying, reading, learning how to use materials, etc.).
Collectors are educating themselves. They can also ask someone else, who knows what
they are talking about, who has seen lots of art, to confirm their choices, but make sure the person you ask knows what they claim to know.
I feel the need to name some qualified folks; there are many in reputable galleries, museums, art centers, and universities; if you want names of art dealers, collectors, curators, and art historians, etc. please comment or email me.
Please comparison shop, just like you would for that designer bag
or sports car. If you love it, you love it...I can't deny that feeling. But please don't fall for used car salesman tactics from folks that you would rebuff in any other forum.
Artists promote, exhibit and sell art:
Not only do artists make the art, they often have to promote it, and find a way to show it. If you are very lucky you may be an artist who has gallery representation. If you are extremely lucky your gallery uses some of the 50% commission they get when they sell your work to help expose your work to new collectors, to important curators, place your work in important art fairs and include your art AND your name in promotional materials the gallery sends out.
Please check the links. Try to get to Chicago Artists Month events next week. It could take you mind off the election for a second!
Survivor Spirits by Joyce Owens, above, are at the Veeck Gallery in the Catholic Theological Union on 5416 S. Cornell opening November 13, 2008.