On Art and Artists

Artists enrich our lives through sharing their talents morphed into things that we can view, hear, touch, see, smell, and use.

Art (noun):

  1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
  2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
  3. the conscious use of the imagination in the production of objects intended to be contemplated or appreciated as beautiful, as in the arrangement of forms, sounds, or words.

Artful (adjective):

  1. (of a person or action) clever or skillful, typically in a crafty or cunning way.
  2. showing creative skill or taste.

Synonyms: skillful, clever, adept, adroit, skilled, ingenious, crafty, designing, dexterous

An artist’s life, often rich with vibrant experience, sometimes lacks the capacity to fund that life through the work of art. Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors. Catherine the Great was one of the most renown and celebrated patrons of the arts.She enthusiastically supported the ideals of The Enlightenment, thus earning the status of an enlightened despot.[1] As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established. (Thank you to my astute friend, Wikipedia.) 

Sadly, I ponder about the state that our artists live in given that capitalism has crushed the idea of patronage which seems to be so important to a health society. We have plenty of money in the U.S. among the corporations that happily send their $$ offshore to bank accounts in tax friendly countries to save paying taxes in the U.S., yet their isn’t enough to feed the poor and provide shelter to our homeless many of whom are “starving artists”. It’s appalling to me that artists have to create their own makeshift tenements like the one in the horrific Oakland warehouse that caught fire and caused more than 30 deaths some of whom were the young burgeoning artists of the Bay Area. It appalls me that a braggadocio nation like America can overlook the income to poverty threshold among artists with conservative think-tanks working for than 15 years on efforts to defund the National Endowment for the Arts.

And though national poverty rates are on the decline, San Francisco County had the highest poverty rate in the Bay Area, with an estimated 12 percent of its population living below the poverty line in 2015. Santa Cruz County followed with an estimated 11.3 percent poverty rate; Alameda County, 11 percent; Contra Costa County, 10 percent; San Mateo County, 8.4 percent and Santa Clara County, 8 percent.

Oakland has a significant art scene and claims the highest concentration of artists per capita in the United States.

Ten percent of art school graduates make a living from their artwork. We benefit from their output whether they earn a living or not. We need to find ways to fund the arts and allow them to flourish to the betterment of our society. It is essential to fund artists and their artistic expression in a first-world nation.

I leave you with this from The Artist As Debtor–The Work of Artists in the Age of Speculative Capitalism: “If you all believe, as we imagine you do, that art allows us to reflect upon the world, that art is a public good, and that artists are lifelong learners and active civic agents then you likely desire artistic expressions by people of every class, race, sexuality, age, ability, and gender expression. Audre Lorde writes so beautifully about how the arts can be a place to share “revelatory distillations of experience” and how the arts have the power to foster understanding and empathy.[2] We can say that every arts graduate we know, regardless of their debt burden, tells us that they couldn’t imagine going to school for anything else. Why is this?”

Thank you to the DailyMail.co.uk for their outstanding reporting on the tragedy in Oakland on Friday Dec. 2nd

The crme of the art world dance to a UV beat with Heineken Expr