A Van Gogh!

A Van Gogh!
From the artists at ArtWorks945

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Underbelly

Although artists may aspire to beauty, where there is money to be made, there will be people trying to make it. And where there are people trying to make money, there will be people trying to control the market.

Beauty it would seem has an underbelly.

After my latest trade, I corresponded with two different artists who talked about the underbelly of the art world. Regina Valluzzi (whose art can be seen here: http://www.nerdlypainter.com/) is both a research scientist and an artist. She made the following comments.

One thing I have noticed is that artists will protest vehemently about being sorted into categories that seem to describe accomplishment level, for example "amateur" "student" "emerging" "established" "acclaimed". Nevertheless, they (we?) do self-sort into levels.

According to Regina, the art world consists in levels of increasing perceived value. At the top are the untouchables: Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, etc. At the bottom are beginning artists. And there are several levels between.

And who controls entry from one level into the next?

This is where beauty’s underbelly begins to pop out. One might think that the answer would (or should) be beauty: an artist goes from one level to the next when he or she paints increasingly beautiful paintings. But alas, it would appear that the control rests, at least in some important instances, with the galleries.

Laura Zurowski, who has a very cool website called ‘The Lovelorn Poets’ (http://www.lovelornpoets.com/), put the point to me this way:

The art world is ripe for a dismantling just as the music industry was shaken by the likes of Napster, MySpace, and other mechanisms (like the now defunct Aimie Street) for musicians to share their work outside of the corporate controlled music/radio industry. The elite "gallery" structure, which positions itself as the arbiter of quality and value, has done nothing but make most individuals feel that art is beyond their reach both financially and intellectually.

According to Laura, the galleries have imposed a structure on the art world that artificially separates art from most individuals.

And Regina pointed to the influence of galleries as well:

I suspect that buzz and other social factors in the art world create a sort of resonance or "virtuous cycle" as somebody transitions between levels. For example, if gallery representation is the mark of a newly established no longer "emerging" artist, gallery exposure may quickly lead to critical attention and more gallery representation.

Beauty thus has an underbelly; and that underbelly apparently has an enabler: art galleries.

At some point I hope to pursue the issue of beauty's underbelly, since it presents so many fascinating questions. But for now, I am most concerned about a problem that it presents for my project.

If I am going to trade up to a Van Gogh, I am going to need to jump from one level of art to the next. But how can I do that, especially if artists and galleries are hyper sensitive to perceived status and won't trade between levels?

As Regina said:

There are a few established artists who will trade with emerging artists, but generally they want to select the work they'll receive...As you continue, purely tactical trading is likely to send you on an extremely tortuous route through each band, and I question whether pure tactics will bring you a net trade-up (case in point - BOO).

You need a strategy.

I think Regina is right: I need a strategy.

I don’t have one of those.

But I know whom to ask:


I want a strategy that will allow me to move from one level of art to the next.
I want a strategy that will allow me to move from one level of art to the next.
I want a strategy that will allow me to move from one level of art to the next.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monika's Thesis

Everything is art.

That is what I am now calling Monika’s Thesis.

Just to make it official, here it is again.

Monika’s Thesis: Everything is art.

Monika Blichar asserted her thesis while we were talking on the phone about the recent trade we were about to make; and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.

(Just as a quick aside, I’m not sure that I have publicly thanked either Monika or Gregory Dolnikowski for participating in my project. So thank you both. Meeting both of you, albeit over the phone, and trading paintings with you was really an incredible pleasure.)

Now, back to Monika’s Thesis. In some senses of the terms ‘everything’ and ‘art', I think that her thesis is probably false but in other senses probably true. I like claims like that. Indeed, there is something of an art to making them.

Here is a related thesis. I will call it The Ubiquity Thesis.

The Ubiquity Thesis: Beauty is everywhere.

Like Monika’s Thesis, I think that in some senses of the words ‘beauty’ and ‘everywhere’ The Ubiquity Thesis is probably false but in other senses probably true.

Just because I’m in a thesis-making mood, here is one more. I’ll call it The Money Thesis.

The Money Thesis: Economic value tends to track aesthetic value.

Something in me finds The Money Thesis distasteful if for no other reason that that it seems to conflict with both Monika’s Thesis and The Ubiquity Thesis, two theses that I like.

But then again something in me finds The Money Thesis comforting.

But is it true?

That’s always an interesting question to ask.

That’s what I want to find out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Take Me Home, Toto!

Fuck yeah!

Look at that painting. It is my latest trade. I love it.

It is by Monika Blichar, who is an artist and entrepreneur in Vancouver Canada.

I have much to say about Monika and her painting, too much for one blog entry.

But here are some highlights:

The painting is part of a series called 'The Sweetheart Collection'.

In addition to painting, Monika is the founder and president of Mab Ventures, Inc. and the Make and Break Arts Foundation.

Here is a link to the foundation’s Facebook page:


Both the series and Monika’s entrepreneurial efforts were inspired in part by the advice of her aunt, who told Monika that life is short and precious – Monika’s aunt was sick with cancer at the time – and that Monika must pursue her dreams.

Monika did.

The painting is two feet by three feet.

The series draws inspiration from glam beauties like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Greta Garbo.

Monika’s art foundation has the following goals:

(a) to raise awareness of the arts in the community;
(b) to support artists and offer assistance for community projects;
(c) to offer community workshops, events, and opportunities for arts education and programming;
(d) to provide similar and related services as determined by the membership.

Monika also teaches French to young children.

Monika’s paintings sell for quite a bit of money.

Ok. Enough highlights for now. I will give more later.

But I must say before I end that I am quite pleased with the Universe. So pleased, in fact, that I considered for a moment addressing it in the second rather than the third person. I have decided, though, that it has yet to earn such an honor.

So until then, Universe:

I want someone to trade me my original Monika Blichar for a painting that is equally if not even more inspiring than her Take Me Home, Toto!
I want someone to trade me my original Monika Blichar for a painting that is equally if not even more inspiring than her Take Me Home, Toto!
I want someone to trade me my original Monika Blichar for a painting that is equally if not even more inspiring than her Take Me Home, Toto!