Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mew Zee, Um

Okay, so I hate to clobber a departed equine, but the discussion last week on Folio Weekly’s blog that began as a vent for local artists who feel underserved by MOCA Jax got me to thinkin’. In one of my responses I said that, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of any major museum that had an exhibition space for local artists or did anything for local artists except take their admission fees. At the time, I felt pretty confident in this defense of the museum, but, just to be sure I wanted to research this a bit ( I didn’t want to be like those peeps who defend Bush without even a quick comparison to every other president who ever lived, including the guy who got sick and died at the inaugural!)

My findings? Well, it is true that hardly any museums do anything for local art scenes, so MOCA Jax is a bit rare in this case. But, I did find one special place that…


after you read what I am about to write I fully expect all of you at my doorstep with your carpetbags packed ready to ride the caravan to the artist heaven that is ST. LOUIS, bruthas and sistahs!!!!

Allow me to introduce to you the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (not sure why there ain’t no “of” in there.). Anyway, this museum is every local artist’s wet dream! I would imagine that every local artist in St. Louis and its environs has a little rug that they fold out onto the floor every day at noon and bow down in prayer towards the direction of 3750 Washington Blvd (the address of this Mecca of a museum)!

If you goto the museum’s website., look under the exhibitions tab and click on “artist opportunities”, here is a synopsis of what you will find.

Four Opportunities:


“an oversized filing cabinet housing St. Louis’s best local art….began in May 2006 in order to make the talent of Midwest artists more visible and accessible to the public” … it contains works on paper that are “incorporated into the shows by asking artists [currently exhibiting in main spaces] to select their favorite works to show in the museum’s upper level education space…. the files are also a resource for artists, curators, collectors, critics, and the general public.” The museum’s curatorial staff reviews submissions.

City Wide Open Studios-

“ a weeklong celebration of local art beginning July 17 with the opening of open

studios exhibit at the Contemporary…the show consists of one work by each

artist…” weekend events include a tour of local artists’ studios using a map

provided by the museum.

Emerson Visiting Critics and Curators Series (this is so cool)

“ Each year, the Contemporay invites two internationally-known critics and curators…as part of its mission to make St. Louis a vibrant place for the arts, the Contemporary is committed to supporting the careers of local artists. The Emerson Visiting Critics and Curators Program provides a rare opportunity for local artists to have their work reviewed by important critics, while helping to broaden the national visibility of St. Louis as an important cultural center.” The visiting big-wig also gives a free public lecture!! (im such a nerd!)

And now for the MOTHERLOAD!!!

The Great Rivers Biennial and Fellowship

Every two years internationally known curators choose up to 3 local artists to receive $20,000 grants!!!!!! Money is used at artist’s discretion. In conjunction with fellowship, the selected artists are given a 4 month exhibit at the museum. Its like the freakin Turner prize in the UK! This years deadline is June 1st, so , let’s see, I think my wife and I can pack up and move there by then… I mean, it’s a sure bet that Id be selected right?!

Well, there ya have it, read em an weep. I know, I know, you are saying “the grass is always greener” right? Well, sometimes the grass IS greener, like for example my neighbor’s yard has MUCH greener grass because he, um, actually takes care of his yard.

A couple of thought to ponder tho. I was thinking that the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis must have a HUGE endowment and a large staff to offer these programs. Well, they do report a recent campaign to raise 5.4 million by June 30th of which they have raised 4.2 so far. I would imagine that is far greater than MOCA Jax’s endowment, which I heard is 2 million total? I am not sure what St. Louis' total endowment is. Interestingly, I looked at the staff listings expecting to see a huge curatorial staff- not one person was listed as a curator or even an assistant. I am not sure what that is about.

Anyway, the caravan to ol’ St Louie is bein prepped. You can bring pets, food, water an old people. I will pack some wooden coffins in case anyone dies on the way. I need someone to volunteer to make the “ST. LOUIS OR BUST” sign. See ya,.


Jax CAL said...

St. Louis?

Who would have thunk it?

The flat file alone is a great idea that would cost next to nothing to implement.

How could we get something like that started at JMOCA?

Something like that would be great for local artists. Maybe it could be a revolving curatorail flat file too where artists are selected on a yearly basis. So that the art in there is fresh and doesn't stagnate.

The last post I did about how many artists are in Jax was sort of a long shot. Man it would be cool if we could really get a lists together though.

What do you think the best way to collect a lists of artists would be?

Some random blog doesn't seem to be the best way to do it. It would have to be a place where it is well known that you put your contact info if you'r a local artist.

Mew Zee, aaah!

onesock said...

I need help with the linkage in this post, I tried to read the help section on blogger but it doesnt make sense- it says there is a formatting field to get the link code- i cant find... im such an idiot when it come to these things!

onesock said...

I think the cultural council had an artist registry at one point.

Anonymous said...

yeah. an artist registry.

wonder if that still exists?

should be a well known place to register if you're a local arits.

maybe it could have a flat file too?

onesock said...

oooh thanks for fixin the link whoever it was!

So, yes these a good ideas to model, even if is not the museum itself that provides.

Anonymous said...

who do we contact to get ideas like this started?

Anonymous said...

Would there be a way to acquire a building? Like an old school house for a new museum. Like PS1 in New York. If there was a museum that was founded specifically for supporting regional and local emerging art it could be the catalyst that Jax needs.

I know this sounds impossible but if we could all agree that something like this needs to exist that would be a start.

Mark Creegan said...

I say start small and grow. I think it is time to lobby for a space now that we have interested parties an all. Any thoughts? Mr. Allegretti?

AO said...

There is a State of Florida list as well, I recall seeing has several Jacksonville artists. I will look through it tonight.

If St. Louis can do it there is no reason Jax can't.

I am a member of the Cultural Council and find it a little lacking especially in that area. No offense to anyone over there (everyone I have talked to has been pretty cool), just an observation.

I think this could be a catalyst for existing organizations to start brainstorming on ways to help the local artists. No reason at all we can't work together.

I'll bet Tony would be a big help with this.

And before anyone says it, we know it will take money. If the participation is there the money will come!

Byron said...

Agreed. If St. Louis can do it there's no reason Jacksonville can't do it.

Agreed. Starting small is probably the best plan of attack.

Having a flat file registry for all local and regional contemporary artists that was curated might be easy to do. How would something like that be implemented and where would it be stored?

Is there a way to get the cultural council to look at concepts? Is there a review process.

PS1 was mentioned and that's an amazing place. www.ps1.org. Great history of supporting emerging art. I think that was the first place Basquiat showed.

Now it's an annex of the Moma but for thirty five years showed cutting edge emerging artists from all over. Here's a little bit off of their site:

P.S.1 was founded in 1971 by Alanna Heiss as The Institute of Art and Urban Resources Inc., and was primarily dedicated to the transformation of abandoned and underutilized buildings in New York City into exhibition, performance, and studio spaces for artists. Today, P.S.1 operates two internationally acclaimed spaces for contemporary art: P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City and the Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan, both of which contain museum- quality galleries and extensive studio facilities.

We have plenty of spaces that could qualify as abandoned and underutilized buildings.

Thirty five years ago it was just a concept.

Agreed. This this could be a catalyst for existing organizations to start brainstorming on ways to help the local artists. No reason at all we can't work together.

roman bradley said...

Whenever I look up the registry I have a hard time clarifying what artist does what. Many of the artists specialize. Some aren't as serious as others. Some really do things I don't think are that important when it comes to contemporary art and some are still developing. Many artists throw themselves in several catagories, like portrait artist, photographer of landscapes and contemporary painter. I understand everyone wants to be a reneisance man but it's simply confusing if your trying to build a market.

I think there should be a small group of artists, who fit the bill of a contemporary painter, who've developed a position, a look, and a n attitude with their art. these three things simply do sell.

use it as a hedgemark. Develope and promote these artists' work, make it rare, put the work in exhibits across america,art basel miami, reach especially the people of the appalachin mountain range, they are the baby booming society who has nothing to do with alot of money.

avoid the high costs of new york city unless invited.
eventually make room for more artists.

It shouldn't be hard for someone who clearly has talent but perhaps not the education to get into the avant garde of Jacksonville. The older artists should not have to worry about living with mom and dad to create their work. Professors are Academic
and have their own sources of power and income. I think there should be a strict disconnect with the colleges and the avant garde art coming out of Jacksonville, or your going to be criticized for making academic work rather than something contemporary.

Still we can work together building
an infrastructure, and using the most natural resource Jacksonville has to offer; space.

In order to make our artists' important we have to treat them important, and to allow those who aren't necessarily at that point to grow and develope and learn.

The art market is at such a behomoth state that I usually notice many nice museums in small communities with very little art to brag about. make it a supply and demand issue. take some local and regional millionaires and convince them that we need our own stars.
to pay several thousand dollars in a market where a picasso sells for 100 million is not a bad investment. but before you get into investment, we need a consensus, whose important, whose middle brow, whose the comer on the scene.

miami has theres, by the way miami pushes it's winters. We have wonderful winters. a slew of our galleries should hit those international magazines hard with those winter shows. It should be a priority.

they need to have a place solidified for them, so that younger artists can have a place also. which means, forget for a minute the guys in spain, mexico, and central europe. Establish again an american art. It might develope out of abstract expressionism, or possibly native american painting.
do this while we celebrate the current artists we have today.

er. sometimes the quality of the work has to do with the quality of materials. help a brotha out, if you see he's worth a million bucks.
I mean why stomp on someone when he's down and out?

eliminate competition through awarding those who deserve it, making a market for those who are
commercially viable, and setting up a center for real artists to come and discuss their progress. I mean seriously talk about art, not talk about local gossip. or who fucked who in the laundry mat.

intellectualize this scene. It's considered so effiminate to be an intellectual that straight couples and straight men veer away from it. These are the same people who buy art (at high prices) and run businesses.

We also need to have some sense of the Art Professor's in our colleges. I had a horrible experience with a certain sculpture teacher at fccj and have never been back. Great artists aren't always good with math. We need to help balanced these colleges out by promoting the best, most helpful teachers.

Many of these community college teachers are pretty abusive, especially to those who have talent but little stability. Haywood was a wonderful drawing teacher I will have to add.

there needs to be a consensus. Bruce Dempsey, Stephen Dare, awho else is out there that can look and see what true talent is? It's not in a phd, let me tell you that.

leadership has to be competent.

but whose the elite? aren't the artists the elite?

why are we letting the most incompetent people run our businesses and government. we do little about it. we work for them so we can squeeze out penneys for our canvases.
everything moves from the proleteriate up. All the concepts on modern art came from some poor spanish guy in a ghetto. the mistreatment of people in general, starts with the poor artists allowing themselves to be mistreated. Much of our minds have been somewhat persuaded by this perpetual self destruction induced on us by holywood and storybooks that we forget the highest ideals of what it means to be an artist in america. While you may criticize america,It's what we've been taught to do, the humanist standard cannot simply be that nobody matters because theres' so much of us humans on the world and everyone should eat shit and die. if the artist thinks like this, well what's the art worth? blankety blank.

at work, at home, in many other areas of our life. there's not stability there and little stamina.
And this city has gone to shit in a handbag because the most capable men are worried about appeasing some of the notoriously worste human beings on planet earth.

I started rambling and now I look like an idiot.

it's starts with us. we percieve it, and it eventually comes to fruition.

Mark Creegan said...

Wow, Roman, Lots of tangents there but thats cool! Some interesting things to chew on. I picked up on your points about academicism and anti-intellectualism, which, to me, seem like opposite ends of the spectrum.

For me, being overly academic is synonymous with being overly serious, without joy. Academic work is work drained of imagination yet pumped with orthodoxy. But, on the flip side, you have the superficiality of statements like "Its pretty" or "it matches the couch" and all that. Either way one is missing out on joy.

Im sorry you had some bad school experiences, I hope if you give it another shot your experience is better.

Anonymous said...

It only takes one art professor to change your life. One changed mine.

Folks like Mark are part of acedemia now and he's a good egg.

I don't think anyone really needs acedemia if things like JaxCAL exist where there is open dialogue.

Socratic theory. Asking the right questions. Being involved in daily truth seeking. That's what it's all about, for me at least.

CREATEjacksonville said...

As far as finding a building goes for emerging artists...

If we start a little smaller than an entire building, I think we can acheive something at a more rapid rate.

How about starting with a space. ANY space: a small space, a big space, a nice space, a run-down space. Just finding a portion of a building that can be used for this sort of thing would be a huge step.

Take the Art Center for example. They now have two spaces: the Carling and the Bryan Building. If they can do it, we can do it. Its not unattainable by any means, we just have to be proactive.

If we start with something small, we can worry about expanding later.
I think the most important thing right now is to get the ball rolling on finding an empty space.

I have been casually looking for a space, for this type of thing, for a couple of months now...no luck yet. But I am still optimistic.

Anonymous said...

not to sound silly, but we could buy a trailer for cheap. retrofit it to be a gallery and haul it to the Artwalk and Art Basel.

Have micro art shows in the micro art trailer.

Alternative spaces like this are easily affordable and portable.

you could get a cheap trailer for next to nothing and turn it into the JaxCAL gallery space. i'm sure Tony et al would allow us to park it in the space next to the Burrito Gallery during the artwalk.

then we could do whatever the hell we wanted in that space.

I'm thinking gut it and turn it into a standard gallery space but it just happens to be in a trailer.

in new york there are very alternative spaces. there was this micro gallery that I saw once that was a storage shed in the back of a brownstone. They curated it very seriously and had it in all of the art news letters. the Village Voice, etc. It was known as a real gallery. Nothing to be scoffed at.

CREATEjacksonville said...

That's a great idea anonymous...although I will say, what's up with this anonymous stuff...can't we all say who we are, so we know who we are talking to?

I read about something similar to this that is already taking place up north (with trailers/pods)...I can't find the link though...I will look for it.

Anonymous said...

some of us would rather be anonymous because we shouldn't be doing this at work.

no offense intended

Anonymous said...

Thanks CREATEJax.

Didn't find anyting about Art Pods by googling?

You get the idea though. Never heard of anyone doing it? Pretty cool if they are.

Anonymous said...

Brittni you were on my front porch giving me back a hammer and a screwdriver the other day. That's who I am.

I'm not that anonymous. Yeah. An art pod would be cool. It could be a large trailer or a small trailer.

I've been thinking about an art trailer for some time.

Can you imagine taking that down to Art Basel this year?

I'm not the only anonymouse poster on here though. I think folks are scared to speak out one, and scared to be posting at work.

ao said...

Roman -

I am sorry you have had bad experiences on the academic level. I feel I can speak to this as well. I am a student for the second time around. This first time was right out of high school and very traumatic. I had this design teacher that was right out of snobs are us! I still get nauseous thinking about her.

I have lost a lot of time by giving up my self-esteem to people like her. I have considered myself an artist for a long time, but tend to defeat myself with the internal doubt. Am I good enough, what if people say this or that.. blah, blah. I did go back to school, not to say ha, I have a degree, but for myself. I wanted to see what new techniques I could learn - for myself. If it was the same, so be it - it was worth the try. There have been a few professors that were odd, but they grew on me. Professors like Mark and Joel Beaman (Photography), have really inspired and encouraged me. I have gained enough confidence in my work to even attempt to get involved - like with Jax CAL. Two years ago there would have been no way.

I am by no means saying traditional education makes the artist, I just wanted to share my experience. I think if you create you are...


CREATEjacksonville said...

anonymous..haha i thought that was you.

anyway, i found the link:

nikromatt said...

Here is what one museum in a real city (Orlando) does for local artists.

1st Thursdays

They and the Harn Museum in Gainesville and many other I have visited handle local artists work in the museum store also.