NEWSFLASH! NYC galleries do not represent US artist’s diversity!

While skimming through the Hyperallergic site I found this gem of a link… It seems CUNY Guttman College professor James Case-Leal conducted a study with his class to determine racial and gender representation in the top 45 New York galleries and found 80.5% are white and 70% are male. Guerilla Girls have been bringing attention to such gross disparity since 1985 with apparently not much changing in the art scene in 30 plus years. The same study found that when including only American artists, white dominance climbs to 88.1%, while only 1.2% of Latinos are represented – even though Latinos as a national minority group number about 16% and surpassed African Americans years ago as the largest minority in the US. Just so you get an idea of the gulf in disparity, Latinos represent more than 27% of NYC’s population. BTW African-Americans were at 8.8% representation in these top galleries. I suppose Trump sympathizers will immediately scream about faults in methodology, micro statistics, and political correctness but the study is nevertheless troubling in how it demonstrates the insistence of white male privilege within the art world and among collectors. Museums rarely hold shows on women artists or contemporary minority artists. Are there really that many more talented white male artists in America or does this only expose the blatant bias of curators and museum directors? Maybe we need a companion study on the racial makeup of these groups plus gallery owners and their corresponding preference for certain artists.

The Buffoons in charge

Due to the ineptitude and ignorance of our current president who is ready to cut practically all federal arts funding in favor of MORE military, former buffoon-in-chief George W Bush is getting a mandate-makeover and publishing a best-selling book of his artwork. Next, pigs will fly. This is the man who established the USA as a leader in: extraordinary rendition (otherwise known as kidnapping), ‘preemptive’ war (otherwise known as  invasion), indefinite detention without charges, torture and dark sites, extrajudicial drone assassinations, mass surveillance and other high crimes. Art and political criticism have sunk to a new low in our times when such “artists” merit books and media recognition instead of jail time. I am convinced we have Dubya’s rogue administration to thank for the existence of our present orange buffoon and the public’s general acceptance of his many illegal and inhumane policy proposals. But why are legitimate media and art sites now sympathetic to our former monster of a politician? Here is a link to a Guardian article calling George W Bush a “…talented painter with an affecting vision…”: . Paddy Johnson of ArtFCity writes “…at least the one image from the series is really compelling.” These are dangerous times indeed for art and politics when praise and success are so misguided that Donald Trump is elected to destroy American culture and Dubya Bush is hailed as a serious artist.

Another Bad Artist Appropriates

According to Hyperallergic  there are protests at the St. Louis Museum from an exhibit of a white southern-born artist appropriating images of African-Americans and then defacing them with toothpaste and chocolate – which he then labels as ‘fine contemporary art’ and the museum honors with a solo show. Museum director Lisa Melandri is SHOCKED, JUST SHOCKED the black community would find Kelley Walker’s art offensive – probably because she is brain dead. What could possibly be wrong with a white southern appropriation artist defacing racially charged black imagery to sell tickets to rich white museum goers? It could only be worse if Walker had decided to use images of lynchings. Didn’t anybody on the museum staff even consider how this show might convey a message of white privilege and arrogance? Worse, at an ‘Artist Talk’ at the museum, the artist apparently could not, or would not, explain his use of black images and of racial injustice, preferring to concentrate on ‘technical aspects’ of his work. COWARD! If you’re going to steal images from others, at least know WHY YOU CHOOSE THEM! Many local artists are offended by the show and the artist’s ‘rude and defensive manner’ and are calling for a boycott of the museum. It is obvious this show is insensitive to blacks and the local community but it is also insensitive to the original artists who produced the appropriated magazine covers and photographs. How long has this artist labored in the isolation of the New York Art World to become blind to people and to stealing images? There really is no justification for such callousness. It is not only just but necessary to boycott ANY appropriation artist at any museum or gallery show, especially if the theft offends the disadvantaged to benefit the powerful. Call this appropriation a ‘visual gentrification’ – and I hope a protest in the Midwest is just the start of opposition to this social opportunism.

Art Factories revisited

Besides appropriation art, there is no topic that enrages me more than modern art factories. Isn’t it disgusting what capitalist artists will do for profit? I guess it’s to be expected that American Corporate art CEOs will protect their bottom line. I worked for a CEO who pretended to admire Cesar Chavez while busting any attempts to unionize – the same hypocrisy that apparently drives Jeff Koons in this post from ArtFcity… .  Long past seem to be the days of Picasso Communism and famous artists championing social justice. In my view, authentic artists just want solitude to concentrate and produce personal pieces but capitalist artists count on slave low wage labor to create and produce theirs. I hope the demise of art factories (and capitalist artist’s dependence on them) is as certain as gentrification following artist colonies. BTW let’s put to rest the myth that these factories have always existed in the art world. Artist “workshops” were originally used to train and educate artists by copying or completing their master’s works, have been discredited since Rubens and Rembrandt, and have only served to obscure and confuse the talent and reputation of the artists who utilize them in order to serve the art market. The latest entry in art factories, thanks to desperate artists in China, is ‘My DaVinci’ check out this link: It feels like you may as well use an app to create art for all the creativity that comes from captivity… or exploitation. At least such sites are obvious in their commercialism, unlike ‘factories’ like Koons’ who use the same techniques to con the art world and its gullible collectors. Are such things as ‘My DaVinci’ a natural product of globalization? Western CEO’s exploiting Asian artists to produce and market classic kitch? Is this the new economic colonization? It’s all rather depressing to consider.

Facebook’s Prude Police

I disabled my Facebook account years ago when the site was still popular but it still irks me that they remain so stupidly prudish and out of synch with modern society in spite of being a ‘social’ media. Exactly what society they are reflecting? Last month it was not reproducing Courbet’s ‘The Origin of the World’ from 1866, last week it was censoring Denmark’s iconic ‘The Little Mermaid’ sculpture – a national symbol and major tourist attraction since 1913 , today it’s blocking gallery accounts because they advertise an artist performance barely showing breasts in a promo (pun intended). MEMO TO FACEBOOK… go to most European beaches in summer and see how many visible mammary glands you can count before you go mad trying. Or tune in to just about any cable channel to catch some exposed bosoms. Facebook resembles the morals of Iran more than the West – in another ‘revealing’ event this week Italy felt it had to cover their nude, classic, Roman statues during the Iranian president’s recent visit. What stringent morality is overwhelming the planet and exactly what can’t Facebook understand about nudity and Western art? Is their awkwardness with nudity simply an extension of Zuckerberg’s nerdiness? Or are all Western social media going to succumb to the moral code of ISIS? Soon, I hope, Facebook will only attract prudes and seniors before suffering the same demise as MySpace because their 21st century version of American Puritanism is just laughable for modern social media.

Abandon the Art Factory

Here’s my New Year’s Resolution… I’m calling for all the exploited artists working in art factories to abandon their posts. Stop lending your talent to artists without skills to claim as their own. Stop supporting the myth of the artist factories. Get a real job and work on your own creativity. Don’t continue to give your time and effort to someone else’s art so some talent-lacking cretin can take the credit. Art factories need to be completely discredited and their masters exposed for the art fakes that they are. There can be no exception left in contemporary art for the outsourcing of talent and “manager” artists need to be shamed back into the shadows. To begin this process, those pretend, spoiled artists need to lose their support mechanisms and subservient personnel. Stop assisting the lies and products of CEO art. To all those doing some other artist’s work I say find the dignity and courage to fail on your own account – you are doing a disservice to modern art and the perception of artists by encouraging substitute art. Painting is not a group activity like film. Inspiration is a solitary experience that becomes manifest through personal talent and skill. Free yourself from the chains of another artist’s visual concepts and end your slavery to its execution. Artists everywhere – abandon your art factory masters and welcome a truly wonderful 2016.

The ReNOir PROtests

Some hyperactive aesthetes are bent on tossing Renoir out of museums… and For realz? C’mon the Intercept just published the ‘Drone Papers’, Dubya and his gang are still free after institutional torture, and Obama continues to defy his campaign promises with perpetual wars – but these people find nothing better to protest about than their particular taste in artists? What a sad comment on our democracy when the art of a dead French impressionist is the priority of activists in Boston and New York! I suppose we should be somewhat happy that some individuals feel so strongly about Art to feel compelled to carry it to this level, but I agree that it is more likely just a stunt to bring attention to themselves through media and the public. Why Renoir? There are so many other much more worthless artists to protest – but there is no accounting for taste. I personally don’t want anyone limiting my experience of art or censoring any artists so I sincerely hope these misguided demonstrators just fade away after a big fail. As to my personal tastes, I went to see the Renoir show at the Philadelphia museum in 2010 and although not impressed with Pierre Auguste as an artist, I was not disgusted either. There is still something bold in Renoir’s use of saccharine colors though I can see how someone could condemn this as superficial. But reason to ban him from museums?… no. I still want to enjoy ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ at the Phillips. Renoir is a curious artist story – one of being unfulfilled and poor after joining a modern movement then retreating to a variation of classicism and gaining artistic success. In other words, he seems to have sold out to survive as an artist although I’m sure he wouldn’t see it that way. Whatever you think about Renoir and his work, this is a lesson for artists in life and its demands on creativity.

Quoth the Artists Nevermore

Visual artists should really just STFU and let their work speak for them. So here are a few, choice, really stupid, quotes I found on the web from some of the most successful contemporary artists… “Sometimes when you’re drunk you can see better.” Damien Hirst (a blind man sponsors addiction), “Making art has never been a mystery to me.” Richard Prince (Dick cannot imagine past appropriation), “I didn’t have any interest in traditional art.” Cindy Sherman (photography is not traditional?), “You must plan to be spontaneous.” David Hockney (and you must not speak to be heard), “A lot of my work is about sales.” Jeff Koons (ad from Wall Street’s Franklin Mint), “It’s a small world, but not if you have to clean it.” Barbara Kruger (WTF?), “The artist has to be a guardian of the culture.” Robert Longo (quick, Batsignal Bobby!), “Artists don’t make objects, artists make mythologies.” Anish Kapoor (and he’s a delusional god), “The only thing worth doing is what’s never been done before.” David Salle (but copying images is fine), “Everything is art, everything is politics.” Ai Weiwei (all or nothing Weiwei). If only they would just do their work and let it be – but we have to put up with their idiotic intellectual rants as well as their art. Apparently there are way too many interviews to fill with such tripe, and I promise not to echo any more of their nonsense.

African Art museum and Rich Rapists

What is the Smithsonian thinking by exhibiting art from the Bill Cosby collection when he is accused of rape by more than 40 women? How do the artists feel being associated with an ‘alleged’ rapist in a public setting? Would the museum be so cavalier if the art originated from an accused Nazi torturer – or a forger, for example? These are some of the moral issues that the African Art Museum is dodging by not addressing the problem and continuing their show ‘Conversations’, based largely on Cosby’s collection of African American art.  They are practicing moral amnesia in pandering for artwork instead of taking a stand. It is the equivalent of not confronting the issue of slavery just because it is accepted by others in society and you gain benefit. In other words it is unacceptable for the African Art Museum to be guilty of supporting rape by omission, especially when you have standards to respect and hold an important position in the community for exhibiting African art. The Smithsonian is complicit in damaging the image and standing of African-American artists in the exhibition by not addressing this failing. Their directors and curators are also complicit in this failure and should recognize it by at least including a public statement with the exhibition distancing themselves from the donor. It is sad to see blacks in high places neglect to protest against such injustice only because it concerns a rich and prominent black collector and they gain from the omission. This kind of collusion is too close to corruption and the Smithsonian needs to wake up before their whole institution gets smeared through indulging more indecent donations without at least showing some sign of remorse. Let’s hope when it opens next year the Smithsonian’s new African American History and Culture Museum shows a better side of discretion.

Is Graffiti in Nature ‘Street’ Art?

A confession: I have never liked graffiti but I can still appreciate the rawness of Basquiat in a gallery setting. Generally I find graffiti scarring and narcissistic in urban environments and without much artistic merit in any setting. I understand that opportunities for artists are limited and so lead to ‘street’ art in urban environments but why should any artist feel enough arrogant and entitled enough to impose their ‘vision’ unto the public sphere without public consensus? And that is assuming a ‘vision’ when most graffiti is just ‘tagging’ of stylized names and monikers. Really, the only graffiti I find affinity for is when it expresses political counterculture – because I believe it’s not an artistic statement but a symbol of social repression and frustration by the masses. I am also an avid hiker and nature enthusiast so you might imagine how I feel about graffiti artists taking their personal expression into wild nature and national parks. Anger and outrage, that’s what I feel. Here is the article that prompted this rant: – but it’s not a new issue. Every few months there is an article about graffiti intruding into national parks or monuments to mar the experience for visitors. Why does anyone feel obliged to add artistic scribbles into nature and how can that possibly qualify as ‘street’ art? I can only feel it is an entitled and frustrated artist who needs to deface cacti, rock formations etc and then post their ‘droppings’ into social media, and apparently social media has also aided this practice recently by easily disseminating the artist’s scribbles in nature. In the name of real art, I hope all the nature graffiti artists are fined enough for them to feel it in their pocketbooks. I like my hikes graffiti-free, thank you – leave art for exhibition walls and galleries with few exceptions.