Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gotcha -- What about women?


Flower play
Acrylic on watercolour paper
5 1/2 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

(Spoiler alert.  Fight me on this one.  I would
be thrilled to be proven wrong over and over

Okay I am a woman.  But from my biased
position as a woman I think it's odd that
art clubs are predominantly filled with women,
privately run art shows overflow with women.
Women are making oceans of wonderful
art -- and yet.  We are still not featured 50%
of the time in public galleries, or in the leading
private galleries.  In some ways the art world
hasn't changed since the days of our beloved
Michelangelo and Botticelli.  Where are the
women?  The Internet has been a major bonus
to our sex because we get recognition for the
work more readily.

However our art heroes (even among women) are
mostly men.  In part I know it's our fault.  I know
so many women who won't even put their work
in a show, for fear of rejection, or disrupting
their families, or competition with a mate.

But in part it's the art world for not seeing us,
for dubbing our work as "pretty, facile, trivial."
In other words female values "beauty, detail,
daily life" don't matter.  So in this I want to give
a big hand to Irish painter Róisín O'Farrell who
just sold out her London show, with work that
was beautiful, detailed, powerful, strong,
and decidedly female.  We need to know
that these tremendous successes are out there.
Both men and women benefit when we women
do well, are creative, get recognized and sell.

I remember a time when all the women in
corporations tried to look and sound like men
-- men's suits, guy talk, "at the end of the day."
"in the final analysis" "ensure and challenge."
They did it because the perception was that the
only "serious" business people were guys.  And I
also remember the shift when women started
wearing tastefully feminine clothes to work,
and talking like themselves.  In art we need to
make the same shift.

Yay for women!

 Have a-supporting-women's-art day

P.S.  I am not talking for myself here.  As a
portrait artist for the most part, I am
blessed with creating art that has a reliable market,
but I know many women who do not enjoy that reality.


Róisín O'Farrell said...


Wow, I'm honored to be mentioned in that post. I am one of the women who grew up in the eighties and were sold the tale that women can have it all. As a working artist, a wife and mum I know now that we were sold a pup (irish expression- but you get my meaning) We can't have it all. But thanks to the women who went before us we can choose what we want. True, not everything we want, so it's important that we choose wisely. It's up to us to teach the next generation of women how to choose a life that is right for them. That is fulfilling and balanced and possible! I think when we master that sort of choosing well women will move forward again.

And to give you some hope, there were tons of women exhibiting at the aff in london last weekend!

Thanks again friend

Best wishes


Melinda said...

"Bottom line," as long as women name male artists as their favorite mentors, as long as they name artists born primarily in the 19th century (mostly male references, even though there were important 19th century women artists), the pattern will continue.

Yes, the internet has offered equal footing. Let's hold on to it!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Roisin,

I grew up with the same message. You're right we were sold the pup, but it's true we can choose. To be an artist is a powerful choice in its own right.

I am ridiculously filled with hope -- a committed optimist, which is probably why your brilliantly coloured paintings speak to me so strongly. I love them. I have always painted with strong colour, and love interiors, still life and portraits with that power. You do such exciting things with colour and light, and that's what I care about. As well as the affection for what you see that's in every painting. Congratulations again.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I think what we need is to see people as important despite this post of mine. I am raising young men, and they are a kind, caring, fair and sensitive. So I think the secret is for all of us to matter. That's why I will honour my male blogger friends next. My favorite teachers at art school were men. Some of my favorite bloggers are men. I'd like to be like Colbert and not know whether people are men or women, but just know them as people. But don't worry, going forward I'll continue to promote us -- the women. We do matter. We all matter.


Jill and Haida said...

Brava Barbara Muir!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Jill,

Brava to you -- you fantastic woman you!


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!