by Marcia G. Yerman
from The Huffington Post
For the majority of working artists who are not part of the art world establishment, there is a definite disconnect between what transpires in their studio and the big business of art. The contemporary market is a treadmill of fairs, dealers, collectors, auctions, art consultants, art advisors, and whatnot. Economics is the motivation behind purchases when acquisition is solely for investment purposes. Others are interested in reflected status, art as luxury consumer goods. Maybe it's never been any different.The mind-set of the 1970s, which was formed by the politics of that era, is gone. Yet there are signs that the rebirth of activism is on the horizon. Propelled by the dismal world situation, fertile ground for the regeneration of the socially concerned artist is ready and waiting.
Observing the scene at the Visual AIDS 10th Annual Postcards from the Edge benefit gave me encouragement that the "other side of the art world," the one that showcases community, is alive and kicking. Hosted by the James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea (epicenter of gallery chic), a preview party with admission cover, but free to participating artists, was jammed.
Approximately 1,600 original works on paper measuring 4" x 6" were mounted in rows on the gallery walls. All the pieces were displayed in egalitarian fashion, unidentified. The list of contributors was readily available. However, the goal was to have people look at the images without reference to who the artist was, thereby focusing on the aesthetic connection to the work. It made me wonder how the statistics would be different if galleries engaged in a blind selection process, uninfluenced by gender, race, or age.
I did overhear one person involved in the parlor game of "Did you find the one by Kiki Smith?" but overall, I saw a lot of gratified artists. In this open show, every one who donated work was exhibited. They understood the cause. As one artist explained to me, "I was affected by the loss of someone I cared deeply about. This gives me the opportunity to support a crucial issue."CONTINUED>>