Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 72

Material goods, capable of being marketable, sellable, and collected…

In an article in Art and Education, Dan Zimmerman wrote, Art as a commodity embodies intangible concepts and ideas by transforming them into material goods, capable of being marketable, sellable, and collected… The economic system assigns monetary value to instruments that through general consensus, are considered to be of  ‘worth.’

The art market, similarly, is a system that revolves around inanimate objects given a degree of legitimacy, often by the monetary price an art object assumes by its transactions within the economic sphere. Through these transactions the object may immediately attach to itself ‘selling points’ of intellect, of reputation, of cultural relevance, and even resistance; qualities that are difficult, if not impossible to define under any system of measurement…

TITLE: 4-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″
TITLE: 4-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″

There is a need within art to maintain a degree of accountability within its own market to ensure that the value is not only determined by those collecting the physical artworks.

Quoting from our Manifesto (Luis Villanueva and Ron Fortier), “Art is the artist’s perspiration. It’s the result of the process of solving conceptual or visual problems. The process becomes, in some cases, more important than the final product. Art is work. Work is process.

The perspiration of this work is the product. The product is the art. And, art is a commodity – something that is bought and sold; something or someone that is useful or valued.”

What Luis and I have attempted to then then with this, my last show in town or, the United States for that matter, is drain the South Coast Art Lake. This so called Art Lake contains not just the unsold perspiration of the South Coast’s visual artists, it also contains the flotsam and jetsam of all of the art found in antique and thrift stores.

We had hoped to remind local artists, using this show (October 17th to November, 7, 2015) at the Colo Colo Gallery in the south end of New Bedford, that their art has an intrinsic value, it exists, if for no other purpose as simply an object in and by itself – wholly for its own sake – perspiration!

There are many potential art buyers in the South Coast whose appreciation is larger than their wallets. A few of them may be curious about the possibility of the instrumental value of the art they admire. This type of value is based on who created it, originality (not just of style but how many are available) and when the work was created and made available for sale.

Let’s review those points. Number One – who created it. Well, that comes down to whether the artist is known or unknown which translates into how much exposure, such as the number of exhibits listed on the artist’s resume, critical reviews and whether the artist can be labeled as emerging (brand new to the market), established with a record of sales success to prove it or emeritus (as I call it) less productive and leaning on their past success.

Number Two – originality does concern style but perhaps more important – is the piece original? – there are no reproductions and if there are, how many are available. Number Three – is about when the work was created – early in, in the middle of or at the end of the artist’s career. Of course, which century or what part of the century and, when the work/collection was made available for sale.

Where do I fit in this commodity profile?  Number One – who created it – I am unknown with an interrupted exposure timeline. Life, specifically the bad luck of bad economies since the 1970s. Therefore the number of exhibits listed on my resume, along with any critical reviews stretched out over forty years endows me with the (still) emerging label.

Number Two – as for my originality, other than the references to Cy Twombly, I would hope my work has some originality.  However, Phillip Sherrad in his essay in Studies in Comparative Religion Art and Originality said, “When we call a work of art original or say that it possesses originality what we generally mean is that either it introduces some new and unfamiliar subject matter, or it involves new and unfamiliar techniques, or it does both. Innovation in one form or another is for us the hallmark of originality; and one of the factors, if not the main factor, that conduces to our calling someone an artist is that his work displays originality in this sense.”

So then, whether or not I am in some way original is not for me to say but rather to aspire to. And finally – Number Three – most of the work in this current show was created recently between 2011 and 2015.  The other work in my personal Art Lake was created from 1975 to 1980 and if compared to my most recent work may have more or less value based simply on the buyers expertise or opinion.

What’s the difference in my opinion? My recent work is not titled but rather cataloged. I no longer seek themes. I am not replicating nature, opinions or emotions. The work is as it is for what it is and as  Gustave Flaubert (1821 – 1880) said, I have become, merely a recording apparatus for sensory perceptions. …No theories! 

I believe that I have no right to express any opinion with my art. As I said in my Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 42, “Yeah, lots of times I’m working and thinking, I know this… this means something… this is important and the result is what it is.  And although sometimes I feel like I’m getting closer to whatever this important thing is, damn it, when will I finally know?”

How did our little experiment work? The show closes on Saturday, November 7th and will feature a talk by local arts critic Don Wilkinson who described the work in one of my shows as the, “…scribbling of a lunatic…calligraphy of an alien…and the symbols of a mad meteorologist…” It’ll be your last opportunity to own an, “…original, one of a kind painting suitable for any decor…”



Posted on: 02/11/2015, by :
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