I've been getting my art directly from the artists since forever, because that's the only way I can afford it. Having a semi-steady part-time job for the first time in two decades has allowed me the luxury of buying books from places other than thrift stores, subscribing to the occasional podcast or Substack, and not only buying works directly from artists, but framing them.

A few of my professors used their institutional imprimatur to make awesome art without financial anxiety, and to mentor students with heart and wisdom. Most of them made mediocre art and ate the young out of envy and bitterness.

Institutions are only as good as people. Long live art, in humility and grace.

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May 18, 2023·edited May 18, 2023Liked by Franklin Einspruch

However predictable or understandable it may be, the audience has failed itself regarding art, though heaven knows the art establishment has failed the audience. True, art is not a necessity, and people are not required to concern themselves over it, so there is that. Still, even those who pay some degree of attention to art have been far too passive and dependent on the supposed experts and presumed authorities, when they should have asserted and exercised their own primacy in the matter--meaning art should be primarily between the individual viewer and the work, and all other factors should be not only secondary but dispensable at the individual's discretion. One does not owe any art person or entity anything unless one deems it justified based on one's personal judgment.

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Something I wrote over a decade ago in Artblog.net still seems apropos, if perhaps too wordy:

The current official art system is like someone from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" who's been taken over by an alien entity. The outward appearance, the trappings, give a semblance of continuity with the former being, but that is only a front. The driving force, the essence, is radically different. Yes, there is a receptive or accepting public for this system, comprised of all manner of enablers with various motives and interests. Hence, the thing persists, and will, as long as its institutional and socioeconomic underpinnings hold up. I suppose, in its way and on its terms, it's a valid enterprise or business, certainly as far as its providers and customers are concerned, even if some would call it a racket.

The question, for those incompatible with said system, is what to do? To me, it seems simple: go elsewhere. Find or create a compatible alternative. Do something that suits and satisfies you. Unless, of course, you cannot forgo being "with-it" or "belonging" to the officially sanctioned and approved establishment, in which case you will have to fit yourself somehow into whatever slot or space the system will allow you. I believe it's called compromise or accommodation, if not capitulation.

In my case, it's very easy, and frankly, this should only be problematic for an artist or an art-worker, which I'm not. I'm also a distinctly atypical person, generally speaking, which helps (at least in this instance). I have an apparently congenital disdain for fashion, which I see as a means to manipulate people and/or get their money, and I find fashion victims (of any sort) contemptible. I have never gone for what I was supposed to go for, so that I'm quite used to being "out-of-it" and "non-scene." And, furthermore, I'm secure or arrogant enough to insist on the premise that art exists for my benefit and must meet my requirements, not the other way around—meaning I am the final arbiter, period.

For what it's worth, I did do the "open-minded" and "benefit-of-the-doubt" thing for a while, but I got progressively fed up with wasting time and energy for very meager returns. Feeling increasingly foolish became ultimately unacceptable. I stopped banging my head against the wall, and lo, it stopped hurting. My time and energy were henceforth focused on and reserved for high-yield pursuits like graphic arts (think Whistler, not Warhol) and Japanese ceramics. It's not just that I don't miss the "scene," but that I can't see the point of bothering with it. There are better options. Take one.

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May 18, 2023·edited May 18, 2023

It should be noted that while the audience may be lazy or insufficiently serious about art, it is also insecure--very, or so it would appear. This breeds passivity, not to say weakness, which fosters reliance on or at least undue tolerance of an exceedingly questionable system--and to me it is worse than questionable. Of course, there are all sorts of motives for being "into" art, and they also vary in intensity, which naturally affects a given person's approach and response to the prevailing situation. In any case, the role of the audience is critical, and I think the audience is the best if not the only hope for significant change (as in improvement), since the establishment is not about to change its stripes.

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Unlike artists whose careers and livelihood are potentially at risk, the members of the art audience are free to give anyone and anything the finger as they see fit, and I not only do that but do it with a relish verging on vengeance. In other words, if art-related persons or entities want the audience's respect, let alone material support, they should only get it if the audience feels they deserve it--not based on their status, reputation or claims, but based on what the audience is actually getting from them. I simply do not understand why so many people have put up with so much bogus bunk and BS for so long.

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