21 comments on “Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose

  1. Yeah, there are several arrows that could be added. The one you mention; another from “Funding” to “Education,” which is pretty obvious; and the arrow between audience and display really should be a 2-way arrow, as audiences supply all kinds of feedback in the form of sales, criticism, and (not) showing up.

    Also that HBMG Foundation, which I never heard of until seeing the link in David’s comment, is nothing to sneeze at.

  2. just not seeing how interpretive dance based on a “quake” mod is going to do much to bridge the gap between collectors and makers in this town. austin seems hell bent on doing everything it can to ignore traditional artists and art and being as conceptual and “weird” as possible. i thought that’s what we had houston for?

    sorry. i read the artspark thing and i can barely understand what they’re even proposing.

  3. “…engaging artists to provide creative solutions to business problems.”

    I missed out last year, so I can’t say anything as to the products from the competition. And I won’t shoot you the evil eye if you participate.

    But from this phrase, it is pretty clear that this is not an instance where the sectors are meeting on neutral ground.

  4. @ Scott:

    Funny you bring this up. I just wrote a lengthy comment (#30) at Artblog.net on something related to this. I won’t reproduce the whole thing here, but here is an excerpt as food for thought:

    “So 2 years later I find myself having decamped from Austin to Atlanta. Suddenly I exist in a very different local art world ecology. This is a city largely devoid of the sometimes absurd academic posturing I experienced on a regular basis for a decade in the heart of Texas. This is a city in which people mostly get down to the business of making things and, most often, things for sale. Things may be beautiful or not beautiful, well executed or poorly executed, but it mostly stays well clear of the boundaries of the terra incognita of That Which is Not Art. It’s painting. Sometimes really good painting. And photography. Nice stuff.

    And you know what? Turns out that ecology is just as stifling as having too much of the academic stuff. What’s needed is a healthy dynamic tension between the two. Without that, investigation stalls; creative people begin to reach back reflexively only for the most familiar and easy rhetorical gestures. That’s why Atlanta is a place that until recently, good artists–even good traditional artists–mostly left rather than came to. On the other hand, when these poles energize each other something very interesting happens in the middle. Stimulation. Good art gets made.”

  5. There is no neutral ground with artists.

    Poles energizing each other is a wonderful thing. Be it artist-poles with each other, or with the business-poles. HBMG is a great opportunity for for artists to learn to socialize.

    I until recently lived next door to two of the most conceptual artists in town, and I might be the least conceptual artist in town. The interactions with them gave me huge appreciation for things that had never interested me. And I’m a better pre-conceptualite painter for it. I miss their windowshark cats terribly.

  6. great conversation!

    as a maker, i agree with the main points here completely.

    obviously there is room for everyone to ‘do their thang’ as they see fit in austin. my personal beef is with the coverage. it seems pretty grounded in all things conceptual and theatrical and i rarely see anything regarding art in the traditional sense. there are a lot of talented people in this town working away at directions which, although might not be all that exciting to your average avante garde joe, are certainly worth mentioning and supporting.

    couple of examples. the jill carver show at workman was pretty great–i know it’s landscape and all but hey, i dug it. did everyone know someone’s making a film about ray donley http://www.raydonley-online.com/main.html? funny how i never hear anything about this locally grown heavy in the austin media. i guess he’s just a painter though so no one cares?

    now, i admit i’m not the most diligent person when it comes to keeping up with everything but i am looking but i’m still not seeing. it seems to me that in a town where a popular topic is how to close the gap between the hype and financial reality of austin as an ‘art town’, it would make sense to make sure that the target market (i cant believe i just said that) is offered some comfort food along with the exotic. as mentioned in your blog, cinque, the “cash and carry” stuff.

    and i’m not talking about paintings of longhorns.

    we do need to educate, but when we routinely start our conversations from a place of complete abstraction, i think it’s too easy to lose the attention of the people were trying to get through to who might not be so interested.

  7. I made a painting of a longhorn calf once. It was fun, but my teacher warned me that if you do too many bovine paintings you become a “cow painter” and you’re stuck doing that, so I stopped. I have also painted bluebonnets. I’m currently painting a portrait of Hannah Montana for a little girl who traded paintings with me at our last self portrait show. I’ll paint pretty much anything. I learned to like some initially off-putting conceptual art by making paintings of it. If you were to paint one of Becky Baconbutt’s tape installations you might connect with her aesthetic mathematics as a result.

  8. Mr. Ohlerking,
    I really hope I am misunderstanding you.

    Are you good friends with Rebecca Ward? Or is there an artist named Becky that also does tape installations?

  9. i liked to state for the record, i do not have anything against paintings of longhorns… when done “correctly”.

    bluebonnets are artistic suicide though. david is so out of the club.

  10. Yeah, perspective is a bitch. I remember being in Austin and noting a weird disjunction between “Ray Donley Austinite” and “Ray Donley art world figure.” Or how about the fact that Julie Speed lived in Austin? (Until she moved to Marfa in 06.) Yet while she was there she had NO presence in the community that I could discern. And Deborah Roberts gets almost no play locally but is a huge figure in Chicago and other cities.

    We have our own versions of this. Kara Walker came out of Atlanta and though some try desperately to claim her now, she almost aggressively denies the place. (On the other hand, Radcliffe Bailey is probably a half grade up from Julie Speed in the fame wars, but he very much does have a presence in the Atlanta art community.)

    Austin, however, has a phenomenon that I have yet to see anywhere else: the phenomenon of being “Austin famous”–people who are treated like the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ within Travis County but whose name is unknown anywhere else in the world. We have the opposite problem here. Here the basic attitude is “Are you big in New York or LA? No? Well, then you’re nothing.”

    Anyway, I do think there is a disproportionate emphasis in Austin on what might VERY loosely be called the avant-garde position, which is why I spent 3 years on the record issuing a number of screeds against it. So much of it is bullshit at bottom.

    The problem though is that one is always at the mercy of local tastes both in purchasing and in media coverage. I’m not sure what’s to be done about that. Austin likes to think of itself as weird and out-the-box. So Barnes, van Ryzin and whats-his-name from the Chronicle (if it’s still them) are following as much as leading, as it should be since they are essentially public servants. Our public tastes run toward the stiflingly traditional, or even reactionary. We have high level collecting consultants who advise their clients not to buy figurative work featuring people they don’t know personally.

    Perhaps we can trade journalists for a while just to shake things up.

  11. This is part of the tounge-in-cheekedness and dare I say audacity behind our Pretend You Are Rich! Art Auction at Pump Project in dealing with this issue head-on. What sounds like a cheezy costume party for poseurs could provide some insight on socioeconomic status and the local art market. Who’s buying? Who’s buying what? And for how much? Is a public or self-perception of one being wealthy a prerequisite to collect art? I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes tonight.

    My friends at AustinArtGarage.com are doing well. Heck, the one of the founders even quit his (I assume lucrative) dayjob to run it full-time. Once I watched him sell a $1200 life drawing to a walk-in who’d never heard of the artist and had no intent of spending that much money. But she did really, truly like the piece. Seems to me that it’s also important to create an environment in which people feel comfortable buying in and having the right people sell. EAST is fun and all, but I sense some intimidation in from visitors/potential buyers when we’re chatting. Maybe they’re thinking “ohmygod, this is the *artist*, I can’t say what I really think.” Oh, and it probably doesn’t help that I look unintentionally desperate. Friendly, but desperate.

  12. I like Becka Ward but that feeling might not be reciprocated so we might not be really good friends. And yes, she’s the tape girl. She uses funny troll names sometimes on the intenetz, hence the pork reference.

  13. Mr. Ohlerking,
    I’m 99% sure that was not Rebecca Ward on Zimmerman’s blog.
    Please use artists real names or recognizable shortened versions. But don’t use names that sound like insults. Remember what my sister said ’bout assuming.

    Ms. artdiva,
    Your last couple of sentences are why I wrote up the WTW slide jam for the Chron.

  14. I don’t take advice from anyone’s sister, especially your bad spelling sister. And it was little Becky who was trying to convert me. I still like her, and her work.

  15. I am way too late to this conversation…

    But, i am not sure if the Austin ‘Avante-Garde’ gets any more press coverage than anyone else. Tally up the number of chronicle reviews per space over the past year and its pretty clear that is not the case. Democracy at its editorial finest.

    I buy art and i am not rich. I think we would be surprised how critical it is for the local art community that people in my demographic buy a piece or two a year.

    Educating people about art should not take the approach that they are empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge. Start with the bar high and people may surprise you with what they bring to the table.

  16. Haha.. Wow.. My ears were burning. And for the record I do not do tape installations, although I do like Rebecca’s work. Keep trying though if it keeps you occupied, Mr. O. Also, I wasn’t trying to convert anyone, just educate a bit. Information and truth are powerful things.


  17. Like EZ I too am way at the far end of this.
    I think that keeping these thoughts in mind are a positive thing. It allows people to recognize a solution if and when it pops into our heads.
    On the other side though, making art, showing art, learning as much as we can, discussing it, reading about it (etc.) as well as buying it when we REALLY like it, spreading the word about work we like….
    you get the picture
    This is more about the funding and the excitement following a real excitement by the artists. Forcing a relationship (forcing is too strong of a word) between people or organizations is never going to spread the reputation of this area being a great place for artists to live and work in the way that a reputation for “creative types” who make things happen for themselves will. These sorts of thing are, I think, a little more organic than all of this. It doesn’t discount the discussion about what to do, but it sometimes causes self censorship and distracts the focs from acknowledging the present and the positives herein.
    Side note: I am a fan of Rebecca Ward’s tape installations, but I have seen several artists (for a couple of years now) from around the US and also in Europe, making similar installations with colored tape and also with vinyl tape. So she is a part of something and not necessarily the sole operator in the style or media. Anyways…

  18. Well, Becka’s anonymous post has certainly changed my mind about her identity. The truth is out there.
    My relationship with HBMG is far from forced. But I don’t think that art and business are really that foreign to each other. Business people are usually less rude and more dependable than artists. But fully functional artists can become civilized too.

  19. “I don’t think that art and business are really that foreign to each other.”

    the idea of a the ‘starving artist’ holds no romance for me. art is a business. if not, it’s hobby. it’s ok to want to be compensated for what you spend so much of your time doing. making an effort to do so shouldn’t be looked down on or discouraged.

    i’m still wondering who’s gonna be living in those giant filing cabinets decorating our skyline. will they fill them up with framed prints from the mall or with original work?

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