Art show in the Skylight Gallery
Black marker on bond paper
9 3/4 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I drew this from a photo
of a visitor looking at my paintings
in a group show in 2008 -- I find
it hard to believe that that was just
two years ago.)
I used to work for a Canadian art magazine
right after university. It was an awesome
job, but I really found the lingo peculiar. I had been
to art school, and was a painter. But I also had an
English Literature degree, and was hired for that combination--
artistic aptitude plus writing ability. Still I found the way
people talked about art a tough slog. Maybe as an Ottawa
Valley girl I'd a strong nose for nonsense. Painters paint.
Were they really thinking about all the aesthetic ideals the art world
wanted them to say when they were creating, or were
they just making things up? An excellent question.
Now it appears that some of the major galleries in North
America are asking the same question, because they
want to expand the demographic attending their
gorgeous institutions. I was listening to an interview
the other day and the head of a large public gallery said
that galleries want to change an audience that is now
predominantly white, upper class, over fifty and female.
They want everyone to feel included in the gallery
experience, and they're starting by analyzing how people
who work in galleries "talk" about the art.
Aha I said to myself as I listened and went back into my
studio, coffee in hand, paint sweater smeared with paint,
blue jeans similarly decorated, socks not quite matching.
It turns out the very talk that confused me and
seemed snobby and alienating when I was a girl, is the
talk that's keeping most of the public away. But here's
my thought. I never feel confused (or rarely) about
what an artist is saying when I read artists' blogs. Galleries
wanting to attract audiences should turn them on to
art blogs -- for the most part clear, productive, cheerful and
accessible chat about art. What do you think?
Have a talking-straight-about-your-work day.