I received an email from an old acquaintance, Jeffrey Day, today. I'm somewhat reticent to call him a friend; after all, he is an art critic. As far as they go, I have found him very competent, even handed and dare I say it, likable. Though he has shown me much love over the years, he maintains the right to take a chunk out of my ass when he sees fit and being an artist, I respect that. He was a columnist with the State newspaper in Columbia, SC, but since the precipitous decline of subscribers (in all print media these days), those on the periphery are being marginalized. If you're not covering a story that left a blood trail, you're on the periphery. He was the only reason I used to buy the State newspaper. Like him or not, he covered many art openings, mainly in the Columbia area, but on occasion his scope widened to encompass the entire state. It was nice reading an in depth article or opinionated review rather than the press releases Charleston's Post and Courier tries to pass off as art reviews. It's such a shame. In the past couple years, proliferation of and appreciation for the contemporary art scene in Charleston has grown exponentially. Between the Halsey, REDUX, Walk Gallery, Pecha Kucha, Kulture Klash, etc., (sorry if I overlooked anyone), awareness and interest in contemporary art is at an all time high. Thank God for the smaller niche publications like the City Paper that cover the arts and give commentary.
Since leaving the State, Jeffrey has been keeping those interested through his art blog, Carolina Culture. His latest entry was about the state's art collection and what's missing. It seems about every three years, there is a discussion about what's to be done with the collection (from permanent housing to exhibition to prospective additions and so on). This is usually done in conjunction with an exhibit of selected works by a particular gallery (the collection is often loaned out for agency display and outside exhibitions). In an effort to drum up attendance and support, the common sense addendum to the exhibit is a panel discussion about the collection which leads to what's in, what's not in and who deserves to be in or out. I absolutely refuse to attend such discussions. I'm too old. It's like sitting at a bar listening to college freshman talk about relationships in between bubble gum shooters then asking your opinion. It ain't gonna happen. Once upon a time in the latter part of the last millennia I was a member of the commission that decided what was purchased for inclusion in the collection. The state set aside .01% (don't quote me on this) of the state budget for purchases, which was managed by the arts commission. I was amazed by the submission process and thought it ass backwards, if not stupid. Artists, and/or their representatives submitted works for inclusion. Huh? I always thought that the convened panel should have been given the responsibility of identifying works of art and/or artists that were on the rise in the state (kinda like some secret hush-hush Nobel Prize or MacArthur fellows award) and then tasked with either purchasing existing work or better yet, commissioning them to create something specific for inclusion. Since the choices consisted of what was submitted, the process led to purchase of art by artists that were knowledgeable enough to be plugged into the process, but not necessarily deserving of the honor...in my opinion. This has opened the door to an ongoing debate about the overall strength of the collection. The last I heard (more than a decade ago) was that the selection process was put on hold until the arts commission could figure this thing out. In the meantime the budget was cut and that's a whole different story.
Jeffrey's latest blog entry probes these concerns. I write about it because he graciously included my name as one of the artists deserving to be represented in the collection. Thank you, Jeffrey. It would be an honor to be included, but to be honest with you I really could care less. All I know is that when and if the time comes that they should seek to purchase a piece of my art, trust me, I'm going to tax the bastards.
Prior to Jeffrey's posting, he contacted me via email and asked for an image to post as an example of my work. He pulled an image of a series I am working on (my Jim Crow racist clothing line series) seen here, but never exhibited:
I already have the entire line of works planned out (including actual wearable pieces), but haven't accomplished them yet. I'm still making a few mental tweaks. Who knows, you may see this on the wall of some state agency one day...heh-heh-heh!