Sunday, February 10, 2008

On the Ropes or On the Cusp

Preface: This post centers on an anonymous comment left in two different posts recently. I felt that it brought up concerns that have been expressed to me before and deserved a more public platform that would not be hidden in the comment section of some older posts, as some people may not revisit those comment threads to read this dialogue. It is not my intent to come off as disrespectful in my reply (though possibly a tad bit of sarcasm may be thrown in). I may be on the defensive side with my response, but, I'm human...

OTC Writers:

Perhaps as you make your way to Chicago or other destinations, you may want to stop by a few galleries that you've ignored and review their work as well, even if it means saying something honest or possibly negative. Below is a list of galleries regularly having monthly or bi-monthly shows you could review or include on your list of "gallery openings" but choose not to:

Gallery One 36 (Westfield)
CCA Gallery (Zionsville)
Art in Hand (Zionsville)
B.R.A.D (Broadripple)
Blue Egg Gallery (Carmel)
Magdalena Gallery (Carmel)
Hoosier Salon
Lake Street Gallery (gary)
Prima Gallery (bloomington)
Kuaba Gallery (downtown)
Wug Laku's Studio & Garage
Sugar Creek Art Center (thorntown)
Artistic Spirit Gallery (downtown)
C.W. Mundy Gallery (Nora)
Eckert & Ross Fine Art
Franklin Barry Gallery (downtown)

and many more, if you look around.

When you choose to ignore all of these venues, it creates a very exclusive art community on your part that is centrist in attitude and puts a wall between you and the rest of the art community who you may feel isn't "edgy" enough for inclusion but are totally valid and who's artists are creating good, solid art (and in some cases, actually making a living at it).

Building an art community means including all of the art community, regardless of whether or not you happen to like the art being created.

Well, I guess I shall field this one for the On the Cusp team, but where shall I start. I'll begin with a response to your statement:

"you may want to stop by a few galleries that you've ignored and review their work as well, even if it means saying something honest or possibly negative"

In this I thank you and wish more people had this spirit. I too would prefer more honest and possibly negative criticism over no criticism at all. It is this dialogue that drives us forward and possibly sheds new light on our own work. And it is one of the driving factors for me in creating this blog.

That said, and before I get into my pretentious, possibly elitist, and centrist point of view, I would like to point out a few things about the list of galleries you have listed above. In all honesty, I have never set foot in many of them, there are a few I have never even heard of, and one of which I have mentioned in posts previously and is included in the list of 9 galleries in our current poll (I considered adding info on their recent opening in our list but do to the way their web site is set up it makes it impossible to cut and past any text, so I did not include it). Of note, from that list, only 2 maybe 3 of those venues has ever sent me any sort of press release. I do not have the time to go searching out this information for them. As it is, I have a hard enough time attempting to write about the shows I am interested in and those venues that do send me regular press releases. (Note: we have a section devoted about out press release policy located in the Contributor section in the right hand column of this blog. For those on the list that are IDADA members, we always have a link to the IDADA map on our site.)

Anonymous then states: "When you choose to ignore all of these venues, it creates a very exclusive art community on your part that is centrist in attitude and puts a wall between you and the rest of the art community who you may feel isn't "edgy" enough for inclusion but are totally valid and who's artists are creating good, solid art (and in some cases, actually making a living at it)."

You once again may be right. I have centrist views when it comes to art. I come at art from a more post modern perspective and tire of first, second and third rate art stemming from a modernist tradition. I tire of plein air painting, too. I do not feel all art is on equal grounds at all times and in all contexts. This is not to say that the type of art I do not readily enjoy is not valid, well made, or enjoyed by a lot of people. People have differnt aesthetic sensabilities and want art that affects them in different ways. There is a reason why Thomas Kincaid and Norman Rockwell are beloved by many. Most people who love their work will never even have heard of the top artists in the art world I enjoy. Mention Richard Serra to them and they will stare back at you with a blank expression. I fully give my support and admiration for any and all artists and or maker of things who gut it out day in and day out, despite whether they get praise of pay. Being an artist is an uphill battle despite which audience you are after and the type or quality of work you make. So I do not hold myself higher or better than these artists just we have different desires of context. If we are to put this dialogue into the current art magazine perspective, On the Cusp is interested in the worlds of Art Forum, Flash Art, Frieze, Parkett and not The Artist's Magazine, Raw Vision, American Artist, or International Artist. Each of these magazines has a focus and excludes a segment of the broader arts community but each has its own dedicated audience as well.

As for building an art community, I am all for it. I do what little part I can to do so. It is for this reason that I started to curate art shows, organize collaboative artist projects, start this blog and volunteer my time with different art organizations. I felt it wasn't enough to just be an artist in this community and wait for it to change, or evolve. I felt it was my duty to be more proactive and help shape the community that I wanted to be a part of. But this blog can not possibly be everything to everyone. It can not be all inclusive. As it is, I am currently writing 90% of the posts and have a hard time keeping up with the posts I want to write and focus on without the burden or pleasure of writing about venues outside the scope On the Cusp originally set out to write about. On the Cusp has no budget, and no one is getting paid to do this. All of our writing is done out of our passion and interest in the arts community but right there at the top of our blog, in our header it states: On the Cusp, Contemporary Art Indianapolis. Our intended focus has always been on "Contemporary Art". The deffinition of "contemporary art" is something that I understand is difficult to put into words and that is why words like "edgy" are often thrown into the mix, adding just as much confussion. We have had this debate often and most likely will continue to have this dialgoue for sometime as perspectives about art and the art world evolve and change. In another feeble attempt to explain the term contemporary art please read this article. While this article still leaves some things unanswered, I hope it has shed some light on my perspective.

All of this is not to say that On the Cusp is never going to include those venues and or the artists that they show. Some of the artists they show we have mentioned or reviewed in the past. As I stated before, some of those venues I have never been to, some I have never heard of and perhaps I am missing out on some interesting "contemporary art" in that mix. Only time will tell. I must humbely disagree that for an art community to grow that it needs to be all inclusive. I feel each segment of the art community should find new ways to grow and improve in such ways that benefit their vision and the direction they want to go. This is not to say we need to have some adversarial divide, only that we all must follow our hearts and make our little segments of the world as nice as we can.

Thanks for the dialogue. I hope you do not mind my honest and possibly pretentious perspective.

19 Responses to “On the Ropes or On the Cusp”

Lirio said...
February 10, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Yes! If everything here is an nonfunded labor of love, then you get what you get. :)

The comments section provides an area to state different veiws, so anyone can contribute to coagulation of the local art scene.

So..... a friend and I went to Studio36 yesterday, during their stated "Open" hours (per their sign on the door). They were closed. Grump......We will try BRAD next time....hope to have a better experience!

d said...
February 10, 2008 at 6:53 PM

Quincy, thanks for letting me know about this.
Scott, I'd not read your blog for a while... well done. I'm back to be a regular.


Lirio said...
February 10, 2008 at 8:59 PM

Duh! I meant "Gallery One 36" wasn't open on Saturday.

The Urbanophile said...
February 10, 2008 at 11:03 PM

The problem with terms like "contemporary" or "modern" is that they are ordinary English words that have become, so to speak, terms of art to a narrow audience. To any ordinary person on the street, contemporary art is simply the art of the present day, because that is the dictionary definition of the word. ("marked by characteristics of the present period" according to Merriam-Webster online). To expect someone to know a jargonified definition of it is to use the word only as a shibboleth.

Scott said...
February 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Wow, I had to look up the definition of the word shibboleth, and for those, like me who had no clue what it ment, here is the definition I found...

Shibboleth is any language usage indicative of one's social or regional origin, or more broadly, any practice that identifies members of a group.

Well for all sakes of that definition, we are in fact useing the words modern and contemporary in a dialogue amongst artists and arts lovers who for the most part should be familiar with the contexts of those terms. Obviously if we were having such a dialogue outside this blog, say in a discussion amongst highschool students, we may need to find a different way to describe these ideas. As it is here, amongst members of this community, words like contemporary and modern are a form of shorthand for complex ideaologies. Semantics have long been a problem when it comes to the discussion of art and or what is art. I imagine, with out a new word that we all adopt, this debte will continue.

Thanks for the new word.

Christopher said...
February 11, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Wow Scott, I was simply going to respond by saying this is a CONTEMPORARY ART blog focused on DOWNTOWN Indy, but you did a much better job.

And shibboleth rocks!

The Urbanophile said...
February 11, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Shibboleth is a word of biblical origin. You might be interested in the passage where it occurs. It's from Judges 12.

1 But behold there arose a sedition in Ephraim. And passing towards the north, they said to Jephte: When thou wentest to fight against the children of Ammon, why wouldst thou not call us, that we might go with thee? Therefore we will burn thy house. 2 And he answered them: I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon: and I called you to assist me, and you would not do it. 3 And when I saw this, I put my life in my own hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon and the Lord delivered them into my hands. What have I deserved, that you should rise up to fight against me? 4 Then calling to him all the men of Galaad, he fought against Ephraim: and the men of Galaad defeated Ephraim, because he had said: Galaad is a fugitive of Ephraim, and dwelleth in the midst of Ephraim and Manasses. 5 And the Galaadites secured the fords of the Jordan, by which Ephraim was to return. And when any one of the number of Ephraim came thither in the flight, and said: I beseech you let me pass: the Galaadites said to him: Art thou not an Ephraimite? If he said: I am not: 6 They asked him: Say then, Scibboleth, which is interpreted, An ear of corn. But he answered, Sibboleth, not being able to express an ear of corn by the same letter. Then presently they took him and killed him in the very passage of the Jordan. And there fell at that time of Ephraim, two and forty thousand.

Scott said...
February 11, 2008 at 7:22 PM

Such a sad lot. I wonder how many of those two and forty thousand merely had a speech impedement or miss heard the word to speak, only to be slaughtered for it. ^^

Anonymous said...
February 11, 2008 at 11:32 PM

Are you for real, Aaron?

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Who gives a shit about modern vs. post-modern vs. contemporary. Words and categories are no substitute for the visual language. Am I wrong in my impression that OTC is Herron-centric? Maybe this is understandable for pragmatic reasons. I doubt if there are many Impressionist Landscapes coming out of art schools. Quit worrying about the so called cutting edge and concentrate on what pleases the eye as opposed to status in the pecking order of art history. Art has become fashion. OTC should know better. But perhaps that's why you often concentrate on reviewing otherwise questionable art. I seriously doubt there is anything new under the sun, so quit acting like there is. By the way: there's a word for performance art. Its called theater.

The Urbanophile said...
February 12, 2008 at 9:30 AM

anon 11:32 - I don't understand what you are getting at.

I fully support the view that a blogger can write about anything he pleases. That's exactly the policy I follow with my own blog. Until someone starts paying me to do this, they don't get editorial control. It is difficult to believe that an unpaid blogger could provide comprehensive coverage on any topic.

Christopher said...
February 12, 2008 at 11:20 AM

For the record, the Urbanophile's blog rocks. Any interested in the developments in Central Indiana and the midwest should keep up on that blog.

Anon 9:25 - sounds like you might need to look for another blog. I, as most of our readers, do give a shit when it comes to modern vs. post-modern. Actually Scott, there's an idea to put out there for your next vote - Mo vs. PoMo!

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2008 at 3:35 PM

As the original writer of the anonymous post in question, I will say thanks for having the cojones to respond honestly, Scott.

As to whether or not there is extremely good, contemporary (by either definition) art happening at the venues I listed, the answer is a resounding YES.

In fact, many artists who you mention in this blog regularly are ironically showing at the venues I originally listed, so it becomes a puzzle for those of us who participate in the art community but are bypassed, as you seek out and review these artists in certain venues but ignore them or fail to mention their shows at these other galleries.

As well, since what you yourself create could easily be considered "modern", one has to question where and why your edgy, postmodern-only system of review has originated.

In other words, if you had a clone, he'd have to ignore your own work in favor of reviewing something at Big Car... as well as 80% of the work being created in our state at the moment.

Art is Art is Art, we need to review it all, good or bad and embrace the entire community of artists. You may not like it all, but at least you'd KNOW what you've been missing, instead of assuming what you don't see is automatically beneath your standards.

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2008 at 4:31 PM

"sounds like you might need to look for another blog. I, as most of our readers, do give a shit when it comes to modern vs. post-modern"

Remaining smug in a bubble will hardly help an otherwise disinterested public become aware of art, local or otherwise. What purpose is this blog if not to promote. Are you engaging only your own small circle? That is the impression I have of the Indy "art scene".

diong said...
February 13, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Just start you own blog... and leave the bloggers here alone.

Anonymous said...
February 16, 2008 at 10:53 PM

scott writes:

I must humbely disagree that for an art community to grow that it needs to be all inclusive.'


any other community, maybe, but a fledgling, let's be honest, struggling art community like indys, it should be inclusive at this stage of the game. when the time comes that it's big and active and anything even close to chicagos or atlantas, then we can have the latitude to be more particular.

Anonymous said...
February 17, 2008 at 6:20 PM


Scott said...
February 17, 2008 at 7:15 PM

How creative.

wug said...
March 16, 2008 at 10:15 PM

just caught this forum.
not quite sure what to say, anon.
i'm wug laku's studio & garage. i've never really imagined myself as one of the galleries you listed. i know some of those people, and they're fine artists and good people, but i'm pretty much a fountain square kinda guy. i just happen to be working commercial to make a buck, and experimenting as much as possible in the meantime, and even exhibiting some of it. being included in that list makes me wonder if you've been to my space on a consistent basis, if at all, or just seen the idada site with lightboxes. in nine months, i've produced wallace shawn's 'the fever', had the icarus project here in town, and did a show about commonalities with a vietnamese artist. i don't think those other places would do those things.
i don't agree that our community is fledgling or should be all-inclusive. been there, done that.
i have no problem with otc reviewing the venues it does. the work presented is often displeasing to the eye and comfort zone, and we need that. i also don't think otc is here solely for promotion. it's here, as well, for discussions about modern, post-modern, contemporary what is and ain't art and how come.
in short, i guess, thanks fer thinkin' of me, but...huh?

p.s. and i'm downtown.

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