Professional Curators Needed, Please!
I recently went to the GoBrooklyn community-curated open studio project. An incredibly cool concept, in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, and using a mobile app— the public was invited to travel around Brooklyn to view artists in their studios. You had to check-in to at least 5 studios before you were eligible to nominate artists. A couple of days after the open studio event we could vote.
Artists were explicitly told that the event was not an opportunity to sell they work. No prices, no works available for sale.
I took this opportunity to go and visit a friend from grad school who runs art studios in RedHook. Screwball Spaces had 80 artists opening their studios for the event. So there wasn’t a lot of running around needed to become eligible to vote. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the work in those studios. Clearly people who were focused on their craft (did I say craft?) were creating some very interesting artwork.
Overall I thought that the event was a success. And then I saw the winners…
Now I might be a jaded, art school snob, but I would really say that the results of this experiment can be summed up in one phrase. Curated by committee. Painting the group who were selected with a single brush, I would say the work is rather pedestrian. And should this be such a surprise? Weren’t it pedestrians who selected the work.
I struggle myself with the notion of what good art is. Why do some artists rush to the top and become stars? Is it connections? Because it frequently is not based in aesthetics. Is it concept? Because often times artists are not cutting edge when compared to the work of scientists and designers who use new technologies with a real world purpose. And what is the purpose of art? Decorative? Investment? The average person is outside the conversation. They know what they like, and don’t care about the investment or historical value.
I find myself knowing what I like, and able to justify it, yet not easily convinced by the art world know-it-alls. And yet, I’m finding that the winners of this event, who will now add a museum show to their CVs, are not doing work that is significantly different from work you see all around the country, made by people who find artmaking a very satisfying hobby.