Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a total crazy ramble.

I feel like I have had a very interesting thought process this week. After seeing the Decordova Biennial which in truth is an incredible museum, reading reviews on it that were less then complimentary, and reading a few other timely articles as well as having a wonderful studio visit with a local artist, applying for a particular job, and getting a very insightful comment on this blog... So many thoughts about my career, the art world in general, and the elephant of NYC came up.

Be prepared this is a total ramble - where to start- the job. A part time job, that I am overqualified for but am really interested in, and its cover letter. As I was writing my cover letter I was thinking about why do I want this job? What would make someone realize that I sincerely do want it? And I realized the reason I was interested in the job was that it is a position that would allow me to really build community art appreciation on a local level. To nurture and be a part of an artistic community right in my neighborhood and in that moment I realized that this is VERY important to me as a person. Community and creativity together.

Then I saw all the articles and reviews on the work by Joe Zane that I mentioned yesterday and sorted through my own emotions towards the piece. And I started to think of the sad arrogance but truth of the piece. Yes the Whitney Biennial is a huge and perhaps career changing exhibition but - does that mean that when you get into other exhibits instead that you essentially be-little them? Do you disrespect the institution that IS supporting you? I get the work totally, I understand it, and in many ways think it is quite good in its academically educated, snide, conceptual way but it also perpetuates the very issues it is speaking towards. He is dealing with being from a "2nd tier" city while he himself perpetuates it as a "2nd tier" city.

Then... I got a comment from one of my regular readers who is not in the US saying Don't you think you are holding yourself back by hanging on the NY art scene? Shouldn't you explore the art world beyond NY? in reference to not only myself but US artists in general. Who could deny that the commenter is totally correct in the fact that the narrowness of artists looking towards NY is possibly holding us back.
I have very publicly talked about my emotions about moving from and leaving NY and I hope that this never kicks me in the butt... But because our MFA programs DO pound it into your head that you have to be in NYC to have a career or at the very least have a gallery there you start to believe it. You start to buy the myth. When in truth I know countless artists that are making their living as artists and have never lived or exhibited in NY.

Then... I had a very nice, intelligent, and enjoyable conversation in my studio with an artist who lives here. Which just reminded me again of how there are incredibly wonderfully exciting folks making really cool work right here in my new community. In truth I have never met so may interesting and smart people so quickly as since I have moved and pretty much each day I find out about new artists that I admire or am familiar with that live in the area and I never knew. The issue here, meaning Boston, is that perhaps it is harder to find the community as the way of living is different enough that you are not thrust together in quite the same way as NY. But to me that can just mean that there is so much room for community to be built and fostered.

And my conclusion is why do we buy into this you must be in NY thing? I remember for a long time I did not. I was from the Midwest and besides the amazing L.Bourgeois none of my art inspirations ever lived in NY so- I thought the entire idea was not true. Everywhere I had ever lived had interesting and relevant artists working and a vibrant creative community. But then I DID move to NYC and then I had to buy into it. You have to buy into it when you are there - because you are paying a house mortgage size rent to live in a tiny slightly run down apartment, your jobs pay you less then any other jobs you have had elsewhere, and you never get to leave because the traffic and the trains and the bridges are so stressful. So you rationalize it. You believe it. You also meet SOOOO many talented and ambitious artists that you are completely inspired. And hear lies the difference to me --- the real thing about NYC ---because of this mythology it attracts a huge number of the most talented and most ambitious artists in the country to it and therefore your community is easy to build and find. But if everyone did not buy into the myth maybe those ambitious talented artist would be in other communities building exciting art worlds for them. Obviously I have highly personal emotions on multiple levels towards this but I do think it is a shame that galleries here in Boston would rather show artists based in NYC then look toward their own community for artists. Especially since one of these communities has the highest number of artist per capita in the country.

I also think it is a shame that myself and other artists that I know worry about showing in NYC instead of spending time and energy in building up the validity of their own communities art world. And though I still very much want to show in NY I realize I can have a lot of growth be letting go of this narrow vision.

When I moved to Brooklyn I was amazed at how easily I was able to build a supportive community of artists around me and how many opportunities I was able to build for myself as an artist and curator. So there is no reason that I cannot do that here and that someone else cannot do that wherever they live. Will it be a different community yes. But I go to the farmers market to buy local vegetables in order to support my local community so I should also go to art events and support artists right here in my hood to again support my local community which includes myself.

Just a penny for my thoughts.... well you got a nickels worth whether you like it or not.
Obviously for me this has been something I have thought a lot about and am still coming to terms with. I mean until less then 4 months ago I was totally settled in NY thinking I would be for awhile. But what NY taught me was how much you can create on your own, how empowered you are as an individual. Funny that the largest city in the country made me empowered as an individual. But I also went to the largest university in the country as an undergrad and found that very empowering too. Learning to swim in a big ocean as a little fish gives you the tools to swim anywhere and maybe that is why it is such a wonderful and great ocean. But there are plenty of places to take a nice swim.



Jan said...


Rebecca said...

Great post, Joetta. And don't worry about saying too much. Your openness and honesty is the reason I consistently seek out your blog. I appreciate all of your observations - you make a lot of sense. Very thought-provoking.

I wish you all the best in your new city. Rebecca

Kit Lang said...

Wonderful ramble - many things to think about. thanks!

Joetta M. said...

THANK YOU. sometimes ya just gotta ramble:)