Saturday, March 13, 2010

Free Art Sucks What?

I have argued in a previous post "Why Museums Need to be Free." Here's an interesting counter-argument by Mat Gleason in Coaguala Art Journal, Issue #98, with the title of "Free Art Sucks. Take My Money and Get out of My Way. Mr. Gleason describes attending a Culver City Art Walk., ". . .the art had actually been pretty good. . .oh sure, some trash here or there, some rentals by the trustafarians and some grad school masturbation, but, all in all the art was a good slice of L.A. Contemporary."
This could, without the L.A. Contemporary, describe art walks I've attended here in Chicago, ArtWalk Ravenswood (an event I have participated in for the past 6 years and will do so into the future), the oldAround the Coyote, open Fridays at the Flat Iron Building in Wicker Park (where my gallerist, Gary Marr's Sapere space is) or in Pilsen, Chicago Arts District. It's all there, the grad school masturbation, regurgitations of anime, and on and on.

Then Mr. Gleason opines that the experience of attending the art walk as a free event cheapened it by making so accessible to the public, "Would you rather pay five or ten dollars and bump up against strollers and suburbanites or pay a hundred dollars to see an art show and have twenty people tops, silence, the option of curatorial commentary straight from the source and maybe a nice dinner out of the deal?"

He goes on, "Idiots are pulling art down to their level, demanding artists and galleries make the exhibition experience a potty-training exercise for the eyes without the psychological damage. The art has followed suit and is made for imbeciles by the addled, dull and fearful in the hopes of narcissistic hunger being satisfied and a few bucks made on the side. The great art is out there and it is time for people to get fucking angry and elite about it."

I argue something a bit different, yes, there's a lot of bad stuff out there, and we have a potential mass audience desperately in need of art training and art appreciation. The only way to do that is make the art accessible at free or nearly free museums and art events.