Sunday, December 18, 2005

Independent thinking/buying/rocking

On Saturday night, I was part of a very cool evening at Radio Radio featuring several great bands and a portable booth of inexpensively priced work by artists from the Big Car Gallery and the music and arts group Mythopeic. It was such a great collaboration. The band The Lovemeknots -- led by Evan Finch, a fantastic supporter of the arts here -- welcomed Big Car into the space for an all-around arts evening. It turned out great in many ways. I sold a $5 collage of a ballet shoe turned into a little man (complete with penis) mounted on an early 90s era floppy disk from a beauty collage to a local historian. Several people bought Big Car t-shirts and Found Magazines and stuff from our friends at the Pie of the Month Club. But, with all of the fantastic local art we had available, a lot of it went untouched.
Here we had work by Kipp Normand, Josh Johnson, John Clark, Jose Di Gregorio, Penelope Dullaghan, Bill Blood, Jo Legner and myself priced between $3 and $20. Kipp was selling original collages in wood frames for $10. Jose was selling his excellent one-of-a-kind prints for the same price. Josh hand pressed his prints and priced them at $5. And John was selling original watercolors for $3.
The stuff looked great and would have made fantastic last-minute gifts. We all thought of that and bought each other's stuff. A few of the fine people attending the show loaded up and walked out with tons of excellent art for $20 or $30. But most never got off of their bar stools to walk to the back of the room to look. I sorta expected that would be the case. It's never easy to sell at a rock show. They paid $5 to get in and then $5 a pint for beer. They were there to watch the bands, blah blah blah.
Still, even having spent the money to get in and the money for beer, if they were art buyers, even cheap art buyers, even people with an interest in looking at art, they would have been back there. They would have been drawn to our temporary gallery the same way people who collect baseball cards can't resist stopping at the tables when there's a show going on in the middle of the mall. People who love to buy something are compelled to at least consider doing it nomatter where they are or what the situation is. People who love art are going to look. But these were music fans, not art patrons.
I hope my tone here is clear. I'm not pissed that they didn't buy things. That's life as an artist and gallery operator here, you take pleasure in the few who appreciate what you do instead of becoming disgruntled about the others who don't. Or you'll implode.
Where I'm going here is that I'm really perplexed about why fans of independent, local music aren't also fans of local visual art. I would figure that the kind of people who would make their way to Radio Radio to hear real people play real (good) music instead of listening to a DJ spin the hits or, worse, instead of staying home and watching TV, are exactly the kind of people who would say "I'm going to give a little bit back to my arts community and drop $10 on some art." That's just about what it costs for a martini in some places.
Hmmm....
I love this question about who are the art buyers here. First, they'd have to be the independent thinkers. Art galleries don't advertise on TV. We don't have any way to brainwash the consumers into thinking they "gotta have" art with non-stop indoctrination. So the buyer has to think for herself "I want some art!" So, right off the top, there goes a huge portion of the population in Central Indiana.
If we had more independent thinkers, we wouldn't be stuck with Gannett, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Dick's, Applebee's and all the rest of the national chains that take all of our money and send it to corporate headquarters in other states. If we had more independent thinkers, local stores like Luna Music and Rural, restaurants like Decadent by Design, newspapers like NUVO would be smoking those nasty chains instead of seeing most of the flock follow itself toward a time when all we have is sameness.
OK, but, like I said, it seemed that some of the people -- if not most of the people -- at Radio Radio last weekend were independent thinkers. They've eaten at Santorini, they've bought CDs at Indy CD and Vinyl, they have some ironic T-shirts and drink PBR out of sick pleasure instead of desperation. These were good people! Great people! Many, many friends of mine! I need to start asking people this: What do you have on your walls at home?
It has to be something. All people have to decorate, right? They all want to make wherever they live their own, right? So what is up there? Music and movie posters? Some of that is fine. But we aren't teenagers anymore. Do they have fake art from Super Target? Velvet paintings of a tiger or Elvis? (Ok that's kinda cool).
When I was a kid I had up posters of baseball players, Bob Dylan, a sign I stole from outside a Subway restaurant, a few street signs and a Santana album cover. Now, I have a house full of local and national art -- mostly local. I've traded for some. Some has come as gifts. But my wife and I bought most of it. And it looks a lot better than shelves full of Precious Moments or prints of a lighthouse from the mall. Anybody, including non-art lovers, can see that. It looks good and it feels right.
So how do we turn other 30-something non-rich people like me into Buyers? Well, my thought is to do what we did at Radio Radio -- introduce independent thinkers who are fans of music or film or literature to visual arts. We have to make the art affordable so there's no excuse (sometimes a good one, if you're broke, you're broke). And we have to help people understand -- and this is the hard part -- that buying art is good for them (it makes their house look great, it keeps them thinking as they look at the work, it connects them with the artists and the scene) and it's good for the artists as it show them they are doing something great and helps fund more work that might even be greater.
In an earlier blog, Chris mentioned his collection increasing in value. That's a great point. But the best piece we have is by a local artist with a wealth of talent who decided, long ago, to stop painting. The artist didn't do enough work to get a reputation of any sort to help give his work value that way. He never showed it anywhere. Nobody knows who he is. Nobody probably ever will. He doesn't care about that. So this painting is not going to go up in value. I know that. I don't care at all. After my family, my cats and my computer, it would be the first thing I'd grab if the house caught on fire.
I value it because it is wonderful. If it had an investment aspect to it, that would be great too. But, for me, that matters very little. I buy art because I love art. I love art because it is full of beauty and passion and personality -- just like the music I heard the other night at Radio Radio.
I only hope more of our independent thinkers out there start to see the connection. God bless the ones who already do!
You rock.

4 Responses to “Independent thinking/buying/rocking”

aikidoodler said...
December 19, 2005 at 9:59 AM

Scott and crew,

Congrats on the new blog site. Indy could certainly use a more active online community--or maybe one exists but I'm just unaware of it--best of luck to all of you.

Brian Hendrickson


Samuel E. Vazquez said...
December 19, 2005 at 1:03 PM

Jim,

I believe that if someone believes in what you do they will support it.

A few years ago in NYC there was this amazing young musician playing tiny clubs, pubs, and hotel lobbies. The audience probably paid $5 to get in and some maybe went in for the beer and didn't believe in this young lady rockin on stage. Those who believed spread the word. Soon after I heard about her and believe in her many talents and contributions to culture and society.

By the way, this young musician is Alicia Keys.

I saw her play live for $70 a ticket. It is an experience I'll never forget. That's what artists have to create. Experiences.

See some of my limited photography at:
http://www.samvazquez.com/limitedprints.html

A portion of the proceeds from "New York Minute" an abstract photography I created goes to the Fam Hands United/Keep A Child Alive project.

When passionate artists get together, change takes place.

Samuel E. Vazquez


gencinjay said...
December 20, 2005 at 10:19 AM

You bring up some interesting points. I'm newish to the whole art scene. I've never taken a class, never studied it on my own, but I know what I like and I love to go to local art shows. I have to admit though, it took me a long time to get to the point where I wanted to look for something maybe a little bit different from somebody I could actually talk to about their work. Why? I think for an outsider that art has a kind of elitest attitude (sometimes real most often perceived) Too many people think there's only one way to view a work of art. Sooner or later though you have to realize that art is what you think of it. Find your own way to connect with it first, then discuss it with others. And it's ok to buy something just because it looks good too.

What you did that night sounds fantastic! I wish I could have been there. This is an ideal way to get people thinking about art. Show up in places they may not expect. The more they see the more interest they may have.


Kyle ragsdale said...
December 24, 2005 at 12:20 PM

1ST OF ALL JIM THANKS FOR YOUR AMAZING ENERGY TO GET ALL THESE COOL THINGS DONE IN TOWN.2ND THE TIDE IS TURNING I THINK MORE PEOPLE ARE BUYING ART AND MORE PEOPLE ARE MOVING DOWNTOWN AND CHECKING OUT THE GALLERIES. ONE INTERESTING THING IS THAT NOW THERE IS A LOT ON 1ST FRIDAY AND NOT MUCH OPEN THE REST OF THE TIME.IF YOU WORK AT A GALLERY ITS HARD TO SEE THE OTHER SHOW. I WISH EVERYDAY INVENTORS WAS STILL OPEN. WHAT IF I WANT TO BUY ART LIKE YOU MENTIONED TODAY ON CHRISTMAS EVE. I WOULD BUY SOME TODAY IF I COULD.I HAVE TO ADMIT I BOUGHT KIPS BEST 2 PIECES BEFORE HE LEFT THE STUDIO. I DONT LIKE BUYING ART AT ROCK SHOWS I LIKE BUYING DRINKS AT ROCK SHOWS. WHAT IF SOMEONE BROUGHT THAT ART TO WHERE NORMAL PEOPLE WERE. PEOPLE LIKED THE ART MACHINE. SECRATARIES HEARD ABOUT MY STUDIO BECAUSE OF THAT ART THEY BOUGHT OUT OF THE MACHINE. MAYBE BIGCAR SHOULD DO THINGS LIKE THAT IN THE ARTS GARDEN OR SOME OTHER PLACE WHERE NORMAL PEOPLE THAT ARENT DRUNK YET GO.iI AM SUPER SUPPORTIVE OF WHAT YOU DO ITS JUST AN IDEA.


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