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Monday, August 3, 2015

Ruminations on Cheap Art

Really! Watch your head.


My prince charming
Tucked away in the Northeast kingdom of Vermont is a birthplace of art grown of passion and distrust. You can find it, if you look for it. Art is necessary for life, much like bread, and so, for over 30 years, Peter Schumann, the founder of Bread&Puppet in Glover Vt, has spread thousands of pounds of artworks to the masses. Art, according to his manifesto, must be accessible to the masses, and "just as the degenerate taste buds of the fluffy white-bread-eaters (who inherited that desert-like stuff which fattened Louis XVI from the French revolution) must be challenged with rough old sourdough rye, crusted with the smell of pine and cedar coals which bake it---so the elitist art consumer must be provoked and the educated misconception of art as a privilege of the overfed, emotionally disturbed, a-political members of interior-decorators' clubs must be challenged---not in order to persuade them to a new cause but in order to start off new art-eaters with the right ingredients." Citing the Merz-manifesto of Kurt Schwitters, and the bleaching effects of corporate sponsorships, cheap art can and should be available to everyone who appreciates it as a power to cure headaches, escape from reality, and provide soothing consolation from any disturbances in life. Cheap art, both lighthearted and political, brings joy and a catalogue of other promises.
I've seen a lot of art this summer... in artists studios, galleries, museums, and classrooms. The energy in making it is great, and yet many of the creators complain about the lack of support, or patronage they have received. As they struggle to afford a life making art, they are forced to make compromises and excuses. The artwork, because of the sacrifices, gets more expensive and the price placed on it eventually grows out of touch with the realities of the economics of the local communities. Are we making art for the Kings and Queens of the world? Are we making it to horde in our barns and cellars? Why is so much art unaffordable? Why do so many artists feel unappreciated? Why do so many people not have art on their tables, shelves and walls?

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