People Are Starved For Art

Artist’s palette, brush, linseed oil on an easel.

These days, people are bombarded with a slew of different art. Landscapes, nudes, abstract, grotesque—so how can I say people are staved for art, if that is the case? They are, and I’ll explain why.

Recently, there was a news story about an artist who taped a banana to the wall with duct tape. This artwork sold for $120,000 THREE SEPARATE TIMES! 

Another artist comes along, and eats one of the $120,000 bananas. 

The most popular artist today is that if you haven’t heard of him you’ve been living under a rock. Banksy, a graffiti artist from England. Not to be confused with a muralist who utilizes spray paint to create commissioned artwork on someones building. He is a genuine criminal who is celebrated for his artistic mischief. He describes himself as a ‘quality vandal’. There might be a pun intended in that statement, ahaha. 

One day, my husband and I decided to go to an art show in Vancouver, Washington to see if my artwork would fair well there next time they do a show. It was supposed to be beautiful oil paintings. 

As we came to the door, we were met with a Walmart-like buying frenzy of people. Confused, we decided to push our way through the door and have a gander. Oil paintings—from long dead artists! Hmmm. Would you like a Mona Lisa for $85? 

Ok, our first reaction was to walk outside and breathe. We were sick to our stomachs, really. The shear atrocity of it all. These pictures were created in an assembly line Chinese-made fake art. Now, how they create the pictures, is that there are usually three to five people working on one picture, one does the background, another draws the main elements, the other colors it in—you get the idea.

Why has it come to this? There were so many ‘starving artists’ who sell artwork very affordably in and around where we live—and the world, for that matter. Why are people not purchasing that type of work?

Searching the galleries. 

“These people—your potential art collectors—are completely devoid of beauty and fine art in their lives.” 

You walk into any gallery these days, and you’ll notice two things, the style of artwork accepted on the world stage and the local flavor.

Gallerists are in the art business of making money. That is an obvious statement. They cater to the environment of where they live. However, what isn’t obvious is that they also have to pay close attention to the art market, namely the auction houses and the established art houses such as in New York, and what people are buying there. Banksy? Yes. A blob of paint in the middle of a five foot canvas? Yes. A crumpled paper with an exhumed shirt on the floor? Yes. A rotting banana with duct tape? Yes. Excrement? Actually, yes. 

The artwork is so bad in some instances that the janitor will throw it out thinking that it is trash. This happens frequently, actually.

Looking at the schooling and education of art and artists.

I came to be an art educator. Now, the curriculum of most art instruction is based off of ‘art is art for art’s sake, and anything else is just an illustration.’ Basically, what that means is that the would be Leonardos and Fridas of the world are not artists, but rather, illustrators. Illustrators can make a great living, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not deemed ‘fine art’ in the art world, and therefore there is an air of being demoted. Did you just vomit a little? Welcome to this world. 

The Modern Contemporary art such as the art peddled regularly by The Museum of Modern Art is that akin to junk food. It is devoid of vital nutrients, and will leave you feeling terrible after you consume it. People a taste for art, and that kind of art leaves people starving.

Seeing how artists make their art.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation trying to help fellow artists to get their art completed for a show the following day. They would break out all of their acrylic paints, would purchase beer and weed, and paint in a drunken stupor until 4 a.m. I was usually the sober designated driver, so, being in that environment on a regular basis was very trying at times.

Basically, many times, artists will show their best artwork to the local businesses and galleries, but deliver subpar artwork. This is a huge disservice to yourself as an artist, the venue and the art collector.

Back to art show with the mad dash of paintings flying off of the walls in the Chinese-made crap they had in Washington. It isn’t their fault. These people—your potential art collectors—are completely devoid of beauty and fine art in their lives. 

We are all to blame in this situation. The world stage galleries and auction houses who push crap art, the educators who teach the crap art, the artists who give subpar work, and the gallerists, venues and art collectors who listen to the propaganda.

So what is the solution to this problem? As an artist, you have to paint and listen to your heart, rather than what is most popular or what your art teacher decides what is best for you. Sell on your website and not through a gallery that pushes bad art. As an art collector, stop buying art you know without a shadow of a doubt is trash. Start buying art that you know makes your heart sing and really speaks to you. As a gallerists, look for interesting art, beautiful art, and things that are uplifting; learn what the local people want, do surveys.

We all have to start thinking for ourselves, uplift people by contributing and promoting higher standards of art.