29 comments on ““You Talkin’ To Me?”

  1. Okay, firstly that comment was not directed at you and was merely intended as a general, quasi-humorous observation regarding the way the art world winds down during the summer. Blogs taper off, galleries have summer group shows, some people take vacation…It does not mean you, i, or anyone else for that matter is not incredibly busy. We both know that is not the case. I should have been more clear about that, my apologies. All of your many contributions are very much appreciated.

    Secondly, I am interested in shifting the conversation away from placing all of our demands for more conversation onto criticism. As a discipline newspaper criticism in Austin is limited in what it can deliver, practicalities and editorial leadership just don’t give it much flexibility. Its viability and sustainability as a practice here and in every other city for that matter, is definitely in question. The site for unrelenting intellectual rigor is certainly not the local weekly, and while i do have high expectations, i am not unreasonable. My recent calls for more dialogue are centered around finding another outlet, free from the constraints of publications and the anonymity of hyperspace, where people can discuss ideas about art. Easy enough right?

  2. your point about reader response is well taken. being at the beginning of the production line i must admit i’d never really considered the role/feelings/feedback required by writers. thanks for bringing that point up and moving forward i’ll try to do my part to help out writers i see making an honest effort.

    as for the topic at hand there are a couple of sore points here.

    1) conversation and dialog – austin has always been notorious for the kind of lowbrow conversations that usually end in some anti-climatic way like, “hold on dude, i need another beer” but i do feel that’s getting a little better as more outside influences come to town and start saying their piece. although a few blogs do seems to be covering things most of the other outlets you mentioned either cater to one specific set or fail entirely in their coverage of pretty everything other than theatre/film/music. i realize the film kids need some love too but i think there’s room for everyone in the chron if only they’d decide to do it.

    2) worthy art and a healthy scene – there’s certainly plenty of busy bodies around austin and more than enough for a humble reporter to spend most of his time getting to and thinking about but to be fair i don’t think it’s reasonable to expect writers to attend every crazed opening that someone decides to throw _just_because they decided to throw just because it has “opening” in the description.

    100 years ago robert henri wondered if that after all the cries that “the public doesn’t support art!”, maybe the public at fault but rather the artists themselves who weren’t doing anything interesting enough to warrant their attention. he likened it to someone sitting down for a speech. if you’re going to demand someone’s attention you better have something to say or else they walk. as an artist myself i like to think that i and my peers do have something valuable to and hope that our efforts to that end will contribute to the conversation (or at worst, a productive thought)

    i do believe that quality work is being produced in our area on a regular basis and i support it all 110%. the only issues i see on any regular basis are ones of organization which is completely understandable given the fact that hardly anyone i know is making a dime and the scene as i see it today is one collective labor of love. then again, maybe that’s for the best. either way, austin is on an upswing and perhaps it’s that sense that’s got us all scrambling to figure this out. i’m just happy we have people who are interested in the problem.

    3) gettin’ real paid – i agree about the getting paid part but that’s a 2 way street. a writer certainly doesn’t want to work fro free but as an painter i’d like to think my efforts are also worth a little cash here and there as well. i certainly don’t want to speak for him but i know david fairly well and believe that’s where he may have been coming from with his comments. as it is now, i make enough to cover supplies (if that) and that’s about it so, although i sympathize with your plight, i also wonder how it’s really any different than the situation of an artist toiling away in their studio?

    ps: apologies for any discombobulation. i’m on a short lunch and wanted to get this in.

  3. I hope this isn’t the bookend of this conversation…

    Firstly, no sweat and no need to apologize. I giggled at the idea that you “came to my rescue”.

    Secondly, it sounds like you’re looking for Austin’s own Scott Lawrimore and his art klatch. Have you spoken to Sam Sanford lately?
    That’s an easy demand if you can find the willing participants.

    Let’s not forget how transient Austin is. We may have gained new artists thanks to the new school year, but we’ve also lost some to grad school and other life changes.

  4. scottewen,

    I’ve done internships, I maintain this blog for you (plural) and I and I have a non-related paying day job.
    I don’t see it as my personal plight, I’m just (hopefully) revealing different perspectives.

    “I also wonder how it’s really any different than the situation of an artist toiling away in their studio?”
    That’s a good question. I’m on the fence about it. The actual sweat equity is probably the same. But since I’m playing the part of the writer here, I’ll say its a little bit different.
    Writing is a little bit more “on demand”. As a painter, you can have an archive of works that are still marketable. As a writer, I can’t think of any timely publication (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) wanting to pay for outdated work. It’s got to be fresh or else your a historian/ writing a book.

  5. “On the one hand you extol free blogging because nobody has money,” No, I like free blogging because there are no purse strings, no opressive influences. Demanding payment for blogging is almost like demanding payment for grafitti, except blogging is legal. You blog for yourself.

    “on the other hand you reject the use of interns (which trades labor for experience).”
    I grew up watching the whole volunteer thing done by non-profits, churches, businesses, etc… and have concluded that Moses was right that you should pay people when they work for you. If someone wants to work for free I’m not going to bust them for it. I don’t gripe at the interns here at my lovely corporate/commercial environment day job. But I reserve the right to reject that as a good scenario for interaction between humans. Just like I think vegetarianism is mostly a bad idea but I don’t give my beloved room mate grief over her decision to skip out on the animals. Free will, people get to have it and it makes us all different from each other. Dignity can still be afforded to people who ‘ain’t from around here,’ mindset-wise. Except on Glasstire. Ain’t no dignity over there.

    My pay at my job was decided when I took the job, and I’m fine with it. And for the bosses I like, I do extra unpaid work to show them my appreciation for their kindness toward me (make coffee, put their newspapers on their desks, regular secratary stuff- off the clock). There are a few models who have offered to sit for me for free, and I have taken them up on it when I was broke, but I always find other ways to repay them. But I would never ask them to work for free. This is the main difference between our mindsets, one thinks it is Robin Hood (redistribution of wealth), the other assumes that people should be able to choose their own charities to donate to (my Dad feed little AIDS orphan kids in Africa this way).

    And for the record, a blog is written history. If someone would actually review shows (instead of reviews or other blogs) and keep a record of it that would become valuable over time.

    As for my artwork, I know what it’s worth. My current job is to convince the world that I’m correct about that and to motivate them to buy it. Just like any other business. And I don’t get to mock them for not understanding it, although a lot of artists seem to think they get to do that.

  6. Like I said, I think we’re in agreement.

    A personal blog like mine, I don’t demand to get paid (and as a gift to you, no advertisements), but if a publication with revenue, no matter how small, wants me to blog for them, shouldn’t I get paid?

  7. You get to choose, they get to offer- no matter how much revenue they have. Unless maybe if you’re in a communist country. If someone offers you a free gig around here, and there’s no gun to your head you can pretty easily refuse it, or take it.

    Try it right now. Jaime, will you blog for me for free? I have revenue and am offering none of it to you. What do you say?

    You do this blog for you, not as a gift to me. Regardless of your revenue. I’m technically providing you with copy for your online publication for free. You have revenue from your day job, no matter how small. I ain’t asking for none of it. I do it for me. I want there to be more writing about the local arts scene no matter what I think it’s actual merit might be.

  8. Yes.

    But it is important to continue and hold the existing frameworks accountable, and challenge them to improve. This means artists, newspapers, blogs, galleries, museums, educational programs, etc. As a number of recent Austin arts publications and exhibition spaces have proven its not just enough to start something, you actually have to do something interesting and sustainable with it. Growth depends on it.

  9. Why does there have to be a challenge? Why do things need to be sustainable? The Pistols weren’t sustainable but changed the music world for the better. And I don’t think anybody challenged Malcolm McClaren to make them.

    See what you’ve done, I’ve gone and said the ‘s’ word twice in one post. I hope you feel good about yourself.

  10. There needs to be a challenge so that change is effected and hopefully things grow. While i agree no one challenged McClaren directly, i do think The Pistols were a direct challenge to the prog. rock and disco of the 70’s. Maybe ‘challenge’ is the wrong word because what i am suggesting isn’t as confrontational and direct as it sounds.

    The ‘s’ word is important when addressing the art world because it is a key way things establish lasting influence, reputation, and help establish a community. Art world and music world being two very different things in this case i think.

  11. Music and art world dynamics not much different at all, I’ve been experimenting and can show proof.

    And the Pistols weren’t challenging their own community, they were rejecting their indulgences and moving on. No dialogue there, just a big middle finger to the ridiculous status quo. And only for a very brief time, but resulting in a long-lasting influence, reputation, and the establishment of a new community. The old community followed some of their lead after their success was realized.

    The ‘challenges’ from artists seem to me to mostly be scolding, like from a bossy little sister. Only useful in the end to the little sister, if something good happens as a result of the people who are actually doing work instead of griping about it. She can claim to have caused it, lovely gadfly that she was.

    The ‘s’ word is just popular and politically correct, a religious word. People from the Global Warming religion love to say it, and I believe very often unnecessarily. Just like people from my Christian religion use their lingo unnecessarily in regular speech to help themselves identify each other. It’s a fad concept.

    That’s what I believe, but I’ll definitely consider whatever you say about this because I respect your intelligence, and I respect your RC for making the peace.

  12. the pistols were also a complete fabrication modeled after an existing community already established in nyc, who ended up victims of the very machine that created them.

    do we really want to use them as some example of how it should be done?

    buzzword or no i think ‘sustainability’ is actually our friend in this argument.

  13. You said the word! Ni, Ni, Ni!

    If we want to talk about the origins of punk that’s a whole other fight. The Who started punk, then end. The rejection-of-money subculture that produced punk decended from the Anarchists in Europe and England. And Blue Cheer wasn’t from NYC, if you want to go there. Anarchism is utterly unsustainable (dang, I said it again), but apparently useful for artfags throughout history, look at who Les Nabis were hanging out with.

    But style-wise, punk rock did away with the preciousness (and effeminate, indulgent, affectation) that was choking the life out of pop music. The Axiom in Houston worked the same un-nurtured, un-dainty angle 20 years ago. It lasted for a few glorious years and made the world a better place.

    And yes, I did really want to use them as an exapmle. Dude whose horse fell on him ended up a victim of his own construction, too. Much better horse than Sid’s.

    Johnny Rotten’s still alive, right? He never struck me as a victim. He kept on working, PIL…

  14. i’m not talking about the origins of punk or what rotten is doing today. within the terms of your analogy i’m saying the pistols were a direct fabrication by mclaren after having lived in the scene in nyc in the 70’s. in particular, his obsession with richard hell. it’s fairly well documented.

    and although rotten obviously moved on the pistols themselves died horribly. it’s even on tape.

    either way, maybe we can use a different word from here on out. longevity? we’d all like to see a healthy art scene flourish in our area and i believe we’re well on the way. many of the parts are in place. makers, writers, an audience of sorts, we just seem to be missing a few key elements to bring it all together. organization, agreement, common ground and most importantly, outlets. i’m sure that will come to pass if we keep at it. it’s good that we converse like this.


    i had to include it.

  15. You guys can have your longevity and the ‘s’ word. I’m not worried about that stuff. I’m focusing my energy on painting, getting painters and photographers to work together, and running a little gallery that doesn’t have to answer to any of the self-righteous haters. If it all dies tomorrow I still got away with something cool. If it lasts for years I’ll enjoy that, too. But none of my attention is going toward the AFG’s self-preservation. I’ve lost too many important things (wives, children, record deals, horse barns) to things that were completely beyond my control. Scott and I each paint like the arguments we have just made. Sentimental, naive, respectively.

    Hello BS chick.

  16. Longevity it is. I had the same thought this morning. This can occur by following the very motivations you mentioned David, and without notions of self-preservation which isn’t a very interesting reason to keep doing something anyways. I am certainly not spending more energy thinking about longevity/sustainability, than i am on my daily studio practice, writing, teaching, etc. Longevity comes on its own, but is still an important consideration when we are talking about the overall generalized community.

    I think there is plenty of common ground here, just different approaches.

  17. “Hype, buzz, dialogue, criticism, call it what you will. It is the talking about that gets things noticed. San Francisco and the Bay Area have a very real, very vital art scene that is suffering from a profound lack of dialogue. And because of this lack, our art is often ignored by the art world at large and shockingly, by San Franciscans themselves. ”


    seems we’re not alone.

  18. You guys changed the word just in time;

    This written declaration has just appeared, penned by one of the Ind/Dem Members of the European Parliament, Vladimir Zelezny, great mucker of Vaclav Klaus.

    Written Declaration on overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’

    The European Parliament,

    – having regard to the concept of ‘sustainable development’, which originated in the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development,
    – having regard to the European Commission document entitled ‘Towards a global partnership for sustainable development’ (COM(2002)0082 final),
    – having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas the current parliamentary term has seen the overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ and its combination with various other words to create expressions that frequently make no sense in the context,
    B. whereas the word ‘sustainable’ is repeated in almost all policies and strategies, producing empty, meaningless phrases that may give rise to dispute,
    C. whereas, with the emergence of such expressions, they are being transformed into incantations and cryptography, disguising the real meaning of the concepts we discuss,
    D. whereas the overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ is itself not sustainable,

    1. Calls on European institutions and agencies to use this term in a sensible and balanced way;
    2. Calls on all institutions to use the term semantically correctly;
    3. Proposes a temporary moratorium on the word ‘sustainable’;
    4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the parliaments of the Member States.

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