ART SHOW REVIEW: Pancakes & Booze #11

Arg! I’ve thought about this for days now. How do I go about writing about my experience last week? My first art show. And really, my first introduction to the art scene. I could talk about how I don’t understand art. I can go into specifics about why I thought I was ripped off. I could get preachy and philosophical. I could talk about how cripplingly shy I am in crowds. I guess I can ramble on and on. That’s entertaining, right? Do I need some sort of thesis? I’ll brew some coffee and get down to bidness.
To clarify, I’ve been spending a lot of time painting. I have no training. I’ve painted for a little under a year and admittedly, I paint poorly. (I tried to take an art class once but got bored and frustrated rather quickly) But in spite of all this, I decided to try my hand at participating in an art show here in L.A. I found an ad on Craigslist for an art show. I sent them a link to my MySpace page and they excepted my submissions with a nominal fee of $10 per “piece”. By the way, calling it a “piece” just seems like a way of legitimizing something.
Fuck. this is boring. Let’s start again.
What I don’t get about “art” is why some of it is so damned important and why some of it is ignored. How much of “art” is about swindling or the art of sales? Like carnival barkers. If they say it’s a spectacular show, us rubes are inclined to believe it, right? In preparation for my feeble attempt of breaking into the art world, I’ve gone to a few of these local galleries and shows. The shit that was selling for hundreds of doll hairs were unimaginative equivalents of stick figures. Like the stuff a two year old would make for you and you’d stick on the fridge with a real estate magnet. Why do people buy it? How do people pass this off?
I’ll give you another example, whilst simultaneously answering my own question. At this “art show” I did last week there was a guy there selling these huge canvases with what looked like dry mud smeared all over them. There was a little glitter sprinkled on and images of people’s faces spray painted over all that. To get the image of the faces, the guy used a computer and made a stencil. as you look closer, you realize the smears in the mud have little catch phrases on them. Like “peace” and “leader”. The faces were of (get this) black people. Okay. So, the man had a little pitch for each one of these muddy canvases. Apparently it was political. And apparently he was selling most of these things to rich white kids in college. These particular ones he was selling for $400 and up were just ones he wanted to get rid of. They were taking up too much space in his house. He does about a dozen of these things a day?! This HACK! If he were a white guy, he’d never get away with this crap. He exploited his own race to sell ugly messy crap to a bunch of guilty white folks. THAT is how this particular fellow made his money. This man is a whore.
Oops! I better not say that. I retract all of what I said. I’m white so I just wouldn’t understand.
Let’s start again:
On a purely practical level, the art show I participated in was a little sketchy. It took place in a crappy part of town. They stuck my paintings in the corner right behind a countertop, making it awkwardly accessible. And they sold lots and lots of booze. It was more of a kegger than anything else. All this is fine but they had, like, 4 djs pumping the jams THE WHOLE TIME. It was the same techno beat played over and over with a projector shining distorted images of… What’s that show with the talking food. Super Food Team? Well, they shone that on the wall above everybody. No way to talk.
Now, I’m a very shy person. You put me in a crowd and I’m gone. Making a connection with anyone on even a superficial level is nigh impossible while you’re trying to shout over blaring techno and the sweaty bodies of about 200 drunk hipsters squeeze you like a wet bar of soap.
Okay. It’s time to calm down a little. As you can tell from my unibomber style ramblings, I’ve been a little upset about this whole thing. I was very disappointed… And perhaps rightfully so. But I’ve gotten a little carried away here. Perhaps I oughta reflect a little on this. Why did this experience urk me so much? Certainly there’s nothing wrong with a little boozin’ and socializing. There’s nothing wrong with selling something you’ve created for whatever price you can get for it. It may not be for everyone but obviously somebody likes it. Somebody’s paintings have to be in the corner, otherwise it would just be an empty space. Can’t have that now can we? And lots of people like loud techno music. I was probably the only person in that building feeling such discomfort. What is that?
Well…. I worked hard on my paintings. I was proud to show them off. I know they’re ugly and I know that technically they’re pretty bad but I took a small chunk of my psyche and I expressed it as best as I could on canvas. I realize that I have a lot to learn and that’s fine. I was really looking forward to the show. I got prints of my paintings made. I spent time putting them into little poster rolls. I even made a little MySpace page (which I find humiliating) and put all my paintings up there for the world to see. I had a glorious fantasy that everyone would fight to get their hands on my stuff. I felt that my paintings were as good or even better than many I’ve seen go for hundreds of dollars. I dreamt of the day when I could quit my crappy job at the failing business I work for and spend my days creating for a loving, embracing audience. Whenever the idea of being laid off from my job would make my heart beat fast, I’d be calmed by the idea of being a famous artist….
When the “art show” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, it really really bothered me. I became pretty depressed by all of it. I drowned my sorrows in Grand Theft Auto. (Video games: In the wrong hands, these can be as bad as heroin.) I thought about throwing all my painting stuff away.
But then the hand of Jesus Christ… Just kidding. Nope. It was easy to figure out after looking at my paintings. They’re horrible. I belong to a rare breed of lunatics that would actually hang these grotesque things on my wall. I don’t blame anyone for finding them unnerving. In fact, I like that about them. Yep. They’re bad. But I like ‘em. And they really are just as good as any of these other ones I see. The plan to sell my unique brand of “art” to the masses was unrealistic, to say the least. As I create, it’s important to remember why I did this in the first place. I love it and ultimately, it should be the love of my hideous imagery that motivates me, rather than my fear of a crappy life.
So I guess that’s my message. Be motivated by love, not fear. And buy one of my posters, you swine!
http://www.myspace.com/thestrangerpage

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