Friday, October 27, 2006

Does Art Live In Syriana?

During the Warhol/Supernova exhibit in Toronto this summer an alternative press published a whistleblower-style blurb about a curator in a major public and private funded gallery in Canada. I became interested in this article because I couldn't find any coverage of the allegations in the Canadian mainstream media. Frank Magazine reported that David Moos told gallery volunteers not to mention a neighbouring exhibit of Warhol to patrons, a move that may breach the mandate of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The mandate of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is to: cultivate and advance the cause of the visual arts in Ontario; offer education and other programs on the origin, development, appreciation and techniques of the visual arts; collect and exhibit art and displays; maintain and operate the gallery and its facilities; and stimulate public interest in the work of the gallery. Usually the Canadian mainstream media may cover art scene activities on it's back pages, a revealing practice on the status of art in Canada, but considering that taxpayers employ staff at the AGO overlooking these allegations inspired me to request an interview with David Moos.

I was very pleased and impressed that David Moos agreed to an interview, which we conducted through two primary e-mails. I sent my set of questions to the Public Relations department at the AGO, and the Public Relations department returned his responses. I have only read through this entire interview once at the time of this post so that I may reflect and consider comments and my own responses with other bloggers. In my initial response to David's responses I found several traditional themes and a few surprises in his responses. Although the traditional role of a curator is to preserve artifacts I was surprised that the artists he referenced did not include underground, alternative or lowbrow artists. And I was surprised he would consider accepting a donation of a Damien Hirst work to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Damien Hirst has killed an animal to restore an art work, not only did Hirst taking the life of an animal for art oppose my personal ethics, Canadian law agrees with me.

I look forward to reflecting on this interview and hope other artists and art lovers find some value in the exchange. I intend to respond further to some ideas in this simple experimental interview in the comments area. I think David Moos was a very good sport to participate because I asked him some unusual questions.

Candy: Thank you for sharing your time by doing an online interview with me David. I am really excited for this opportunity for a view into the life of a curator in Canada. I realize this is a huge dedication of your time from a busy schedule with your work load and family life, and I really really appreciate your sense of adventure to participate with me.

David: I am pleased to have a dialogue with you and try to address your thoughtful questions. Here are some answers or responses to some of your questions.

Candy: I loved the Warhol/Supernova show at the Art Gallery of Ontario this summer. I was lucky enough to see both the Chicago setting and the Toronto setting of this awesome perspective on Warhol's legacy. If I hadn't been invited to the "artist's evening", a regular event at the AGO, I might not have seen the Toronto exhibit. I couldn't afford the $18.00 charge for the show. In Chicago, the exhibit was only $10.00. I can't imagine how many families could afford $40.00 to enjoy this Warhol experience, especially considering it is their tax dollars that pay for the AGO's operation. How much do you think is too much for the public to pay to see a show at the AGO?

David: In terms of the admission price of “Andy Warhol/Supernova,” I think each museum has to reach its own conclusions about the exhibition experiences it is offering. If you are to compare the Chicago presentation with the Toronto version of this exhibition (that was actually conceived by Douglas Fogle at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis), then I think you are comparing two very different exhibition experiences. Only in Toronto do viewers have the David Cronenberg guest-curated experience, and Cronenberg substantially impacted the presentation of the exhibition. A crucial aspect of the AGO exhibition experience is the audio guide, or what we refer to as the “soundtrack” to the exhibition. Viewers are strongly encouraged to take the audio wand and let Cronenberg play exhibition guide because he is so insightful and creative, and because his conversions with other Warhol luminaries brings the material to life in ways not palpable in Chicago or Minneapolis. Also—and this is important not just for the exhibition’s visual complexion, but for Warhol studies in general—Cronenberg (in collaboration with me) developed the notion of screening Warhol films adjacent to the paintings within the exhibition proper. To have painting and film-making sharing the same wall and the same visual space is a breakthrough. Warhol may have done it in 1968 at his Moderna Museet exhibition in Stockholm (what didn’t Warhol do?), but this is the first time in recent years that this dual-medium presentation has occurred, and it has far reaching implications, offering up a new way to comprehend what Warhol was achieving in those staggeringly creative early years of 1962-1964. Also, because Cronenberg wanted to emphasize the darker side of Warhol’s imagination, we expanded the selection of disaster paintings, adding such landmark works as “Red Disaster,” “Foot and Tire,” “1947-White” (the only suicide painting in “Supernova” in any of the three cities), and, perhaps the ultimate car crash painting “White Burning Car.” Coupled with the augmented “Jackie” material and a few other additions, the Toronto exhibition is quite a powerful presentation. Is all that original content worth $18.00? I suppose the audience decides and the success of the exhibition so far is some indication that there is a balanced value for dollar proposition installed in “Supernova.”

Candy: I was in Nashville a year ago looking at art. The Fisk University has a huge collection of art donated by Georgia O'Keefe from her husband's estate. I was in a hotel across the street from another gallery,The Frist, and they couldn't tell me anything about the Fisk University collection. We had to google the topics to find out about the Fisk's Alfred Stieglitz collection. We were dumbfounded and made complaints to the Frist museum. When we tracked down the gallery at Fisk, not only was it an outstanding collection, their gallery had literature about the city's art scene including the Frist. The lack of cross promotion of an art scene was depressing to us and indicated a lack of enthusiasm, pride and professionalism to me in a large operation like the Frist.( I have noticed since our visit The Frist have added links to the Fisk and other galleries on their website. PROPS!) Imagine my surprise to find that a similar stagnant cross promotion was occuring in a public Canadian gallery? There were two Warhol shows in Toronto this summer and it was as if the AGO didn't know the Oakville exhibit existed. Do you think this is the way to lead a progressive contemporary art scene in this country?

David: I agree with you that collaboration is the key to success. We met with the Oakville Gallery staff prior to our Warhol exhibitions opening and brainstormed collaborative possibilities regarding cross-promotion. We included each other’s exhibition material in our press kits and we did a brochure swap so that each institution had information available about the other’s exhibition. We were generally pleased with the joint promotion.
In terms of collaborative ventures, I and my colleagues in the contemporary art department (and I may surmise, across the AGO), are involved in many collaborative projects. For example, this summer I co-curated, along with Kitty Scott of the National Gallery of Canada and Stephane Aquin of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition “Sound + Vision: Contemporary Photographic and Video Images in Contemporary Canadian Art,” a major summer exhibition at the MMFA that was on view until October 22nd. The exhibition was drawn from the three museum collections and serves as a context within which the work by emerging Canadian artists can be seen against the contributions of older, iconic Canadians. The MMFA produced a thin publication with a trialogue by the three curators, which I could send to you if you like. This example of a close collaboration is the kind that I favour, as all participants have an equally engaged voice and stake in the project from start to finish.
In recent months I have been in contact with colleagues at other Toronto institutions (such as Kelvin Brown, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the ROM), in order to propose collaborative projects. The fate of our shared ambitions remains to be seen, but our dialogue is strong. I note a similar level of open communication with the Power Plant (Director Greg Burke serves on my department’s Contemporary Curatorial Committee). Given these examples, I don’t think the Nashville paradigm bears much resemblance to the AGO’s position in the contemporary art community. And, I am not even mentioning the various advisory boards and committees that me and assistant curators Michelle Jacques and Ben Portis have vital engagement with as participants and/or leaders.

Candy: What Canadian curators work do you admire, and for what reasons?

David: Stephane Aquin, Curator of Contemporary Art Montreal Museum of Arts.
Daina Augaitis, Bruce Grenville, and Grant Arnold at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Solid work: compelling and timely exhibitions accompanied by serious essays in substantial publications

Also, I appreciate Andrew Hunter, a curator who has worked at numerous Canadian institutions, for he is always patrolling the fringe of creative possibility in curating and creating innovative projects.

Can I ask myself an elaborated version of your question…?

Michael Auping, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Gary Garrels, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Madeleine Grynsztejn, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Candy: What Canadian contemporary art holds your passion and why?

David: So much Canadian art holds my passion for a variety of reasons. I’ll name some artists who I think are producing important work that will continue to shape the discourse around visual culture both within Canada and internationally. Tim Lee from Vancouver is intense, brilliant, witty, profound and his work speaks to the heart of what it means to be Canadian in the early 21st century. Kent Monkman is one of the ultimate painters at work and he has managed to make postmodernism seem once again profound. His perfectly painted new narratives of North American landscape painting recode the world according to an aboriginal point of view. And he accomplishes this on a grand scale that transports the viewer back in time to a space of other possibility. Iris Haussler has created one of the more beguiling environments I have encountered anywhere in the artworld, in an unassuming house on an unassuming street in Toronto. If you have not been to 105 Robinson, I urge you to take the tour and encounter the recently discovered private world of Joseph Wagenbach, which is a truly mind-expanding experience. Her total-environment can certainly be considered in relation to efforts by internationally celebrated artists such as Gregor Schneider or the recently deceased Jason Rhoades. I also especially admire the work of Francoise Sullivan, an artist who in typical Canadian fashion, has created a body of work over the span of a lifetime but has received only modest acclaim. Her multifaceted oeuvre is staggeringly groundbreaking. For example, she pioneered the genre of performance in contemporary art. Her achievement would be more widely celebrated if Canada realized how valuable the work of such artists is in a broad cultural context. Sullivan’s diverse work that commences in the late-1940s deserves to be critically appraised and celebrated. The list of worthy names is enormous, but these four artists offer a glimpse of my thinking today.

Candy: My first art course at university was with Mowry Baden. During the first week of classes he counted us. He said, "Out of the two dozen here today, half at most will still be practicing art in five years. In ten years only three of you will still be practiicng art." I remember laughing and thinking, I'll still be here, and that must be what the cliche "struggling artist " means. Young as I was, I didn't realize that most people who pay for education do not land up in the profession they studied, but art surely seems to have the biggest odds against it. What role do you feel the AGO, and you as a curator, does or should play in the support of unknown and struggling artists?

David: How can the AGO support unknown artists… by being the most accessible and inspirational resource imaginable, and by functioning as a platform to promote their efforts. The AGO aspires to become a place where ideas can be exchanged and creative conversations staged. Generating a discourse and providing a framework within which new ideas and creative ambitions can be nurtured is a crucial ambition of the AGO. And not only should young artists feel embraced and inspired at the AGO—but creative minds from all disciplines should become engaged (designers, illustrators, musicians, ventriloquists, et. .al.)

Candy: A couple things disturbed me while reading an article in Frank magazine. Frank magazine's Loose Lips column said "(Moos) consistent advice to patrons and collectors that buying Canadian art is a bad investment has done little to endear him with our homegrown wards of the Canada Council." How do you reconcile working for a Canadian funded art gallery with this advice?

David: Did I say that Canadian art is a bad investment? No.
Does Canadian art offer opportunistic collectors intent on making money through the acquisition and re-sale of artworks the same kinds of rewards available in international contemporary art? No.

The value and depth of the international art world has geometrically expanded in the last decade. Witness the rise of the art fair as main trading floor of the art market—from Basel, Switzerland to Basel, Miami, from New York’s Armory Show to London’s Frieze. Witness the boom in New York Gallery real estate, where super-galleries such as Gagosian (another additional giant new space opened on Oct. 25 with an Andy Warhol exhibition), David Zwirner (recently opened two new galleries on either side of his existing gallery), Pace Gallery, Matthew Marks, Marian Goodman, et. al. Many of the artists exhibiting in these galleries command prices that can only be sustained through the vast internationalization of the art world. Witness the role that the mega-private collector now plays in setting taste, manifesting curatorial opinions and asserting the value of certain artists. Witness the role that auction houses now play in assessing the value and currency of emerging artists.
Realize that the art world has changed. The stakes are so much higher and most cultured individuals have realized this, as have most cities that are heavily investing in their culture sectors (Toronto being a great example of this consciousness).
The Canadian art market is smaller in scale than international markets. Think of the staggering prices realized by young British artists such as Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Sam Taylor-Wood, to pluck three diverse artists from the panoply of expensive young talent. To my knowledge, no Canadian painter commands about $1 million per painting, the way Ofili does. (Peter Doig is the one exception, and his market was made outside Canada).
From the point of view of playing the art market in the manner that one plays a stock market, my advice would be to trade internationally. Is this something I advocate? No. Would the AGO be interested in acquiring (most probably the only way to do so would be through donation) a Chris Ofili painting, or a sculpture by Damien Hirst, or a major work by Sam Taylor-Wood? Yes. And yes, the Doig would be great as well.

Candy: James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, said " In the end, the more people come to think that art is a good investment, the quicker it will become a bad one." Why is it a good practice for a curator to discuss investment when according to some estimates less than one percent of all art purchased makes a profit in resale?

David: For the curator of a major collecting institution not to be aware of the art market is…simply not possible.

Candy: I am sick of going to galleries and seeing what I call "oneliner art" or "punchline art". Most of the time I feel like I've walked into a bad Vegas lounge act. Ba dum bump. Outside a Chicago public museum right now there is a car coming out of the ground pulling a trailer. Ba dum bump. An artist funded by millions of Pounds dropped a bunch of ping pong balls down a flight of stairs in Britain. Ba dum bump. I can give you many of examples, over twenty or thirty years. I believe that treating art like it's purpose in culture is for investment has partly contributed to this desperate attempt to entertain the few people who go to galleries. To the majority of the public art has become...a joke. Art programs suffer and for regular people they see artists and curators as a waste of money, and worse, time. What do the words ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO mean to you in 2006?

David: I don’t think you will find much “punchline art” in the contemporary program at the AGO. But you may find art that defines the difference between easy art and truly challenging new art. By the way, did you see the Tino Sehgal work installed this past summer at the AGO?

The meaning to me of “Art Gallery of Ontario.”
We Bring Art and People Together and boldly declare Art Matters.

Candy: Which 5 works would you acquire for the AGO if money were no option?

David: The needs and dreams are many, but with the exception of Eva Hesse, I will list painters and stay only in the 50s and 60s:
Any of the following would be fine with me…and all would need to be major works:
Jackson Pollock
Barnett Newman
Clyfford Still
Philip Guston
Joan Mitchell
Cy Twombly
Yves Klein
Yayoi Kusama
Francis Bacon
Lucien Freud
Jasper Johns
Roy Lcihtenstein
Helen Frankenthaler
Edward Ruscha
Eva Hesse
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Candy: What work do you have hanging in your bedroom?

David: John Wesley, “Second Honeymood,” 1993, acrylic on paper, 22 x 30 inches

Candy: What was the last work (painting, sculpture, etc) you purchased, personally?

David: Julianne Swartz, “Periphiscope,” 2003, electric conduit, lens, mirror, wire, plastic, clock, motor, mylar, light
Dimensions variable

Candy: What percentage of your income do you spend on the purchase of works by living Canadian artists?

David: I haven’t bought a work of art since moving to Toronto two and half years ago, because I have been more focused on collecting books. I feel that collecting for myself, while endeavoring to groom and grow the nation’s premier collection of contemporary art, may cloud my judgment and give rise to conflict of interest. I prefer to think 100% AGO collecting thoughts, rather than dabble with my own personal ambitions.

Candy: Are you, personally, an affiliate member of CARFAC?

David: No, not a member.

CAA Only a member in years when I attend the annual meeting in order to present a paper (once about every 3-5 years).

Candy: In a curator's day/ year/ etc. - to whom do you feel most open to criticism by, and why?

David: By the public, whether I respond to an email by an interested museum visitor who is a regular citizen, or I read a review in a local newspaper or magazine. Criticism… I thrive on it.

Name 7 living Canadian artists whose work you feel is underappreciated?

David: Iain Baxter& / N.E. Thing Co., Betty Goodwin, Anitra Hamilton, Kent Monkman, Evan Penny, Michael Snow, Françoise Sullivan.

Candy: Name 7 dead Canadian artists whose work you feel is of the best there is in the world?

David: Paul Emil Borduas, Jack Bush, Emily Carr, Greg Curnoe, Gershon Iskowitz, David Milne, Jean-Paul Riopelle.

Candy: I suggest we set up a tent outside the AGO year-round and offer kids who are homeless, often unable to fit into traditional school settings, art lessons. I will find and schedule the artists to give lessons and restaurants that will cater lunches. This will be the third innovative cost savvy dynamic proposal I have made to the AGO in the past year. Would you start an art literacy program with me for street kids?

David: Why that single group in need? Are there other groups of similar need? Do I have to choose among groups? Am I most interested, right at this moment, in new Canadians, people who have literally just stepped off an airplane from a distant land? Would I invest in a program directed toward them first if I had to choose? Is money an issue in your question, or are you just fabulating? What about handicapped children, before street kids? What about children who have grown up in dire poverty before street kids? What about children with terminal diseases… Am I inclined to privilege those who have had no choice, perhaps.

Further References:
Zeke's Gallery.
Frank magazine tradition(Canada's Jon Stewart?).
Shark life for art.
Animal care in film production.
Art Gallery of Ontario funding.
Canadian media magnate and AGO sponsor, Ken Thompson.


Candy Minx said...

My first impression to my engaging experience of reading David Moos' responses regards the last question I asked:

"I suggest we set up a tent outside the AGO year-round and offer kids who are homeless, often unable to fit into traditional school settings, art lessons. I will find and schedule the artists to give lessons and restaurants that will cater lunches. This will be the third innovative cost savvy dynamic proposal I have made to the AGO in the past year. Would you start an art literacy program with me for street kids? "

I was dead serious in this proposition and proposal. It was not fabulizing.I have co-proposed two other projects to the AGO in the past. I am more than willing to put my labour behind my innovation and compassion.

The first was a cost-efficent project to rescue, edit and produce with time-sensitive footage of art making within the AGO for historical, educational and archival dvds. The films could have been rescued from security cameras of the Swing Space projects during renovations to the gallery to compile a dynamic library resource and retail opportunity for the gallery. Our proposal was denied.

The second proposal was to create an adveritising campaign aimed at the million visitors and participants at the annual Toronto Gay Pride Parade. I proposed an ad campaign featuring the rainbow-coloured Sol LeWitt mural (co-executed by me and three orther artists) encouraging community awareness between the gallery and a socially and culturally enthusiastic potential audience. Denied. Last year the AGO deployed a pink hearse advertising the Warhol/Supernova exhibit. The potential inappropriateness of a hearse of any colour driving among a gay dominated population ravaged by AIDS does not need much criticism to set heads scratching.

My last question is an issue close to my heart and I believe an opportunity for community participation and caregiving rather than an idle speculation about who in our world needs help more than anyone else. Children who have run away from home, who salvage food and clothes by their wits in a desperate act of escaping a domestic setting for the street and homelessness as less dangerous than their home.

David asked if there was a stature on charity. I say, no. The issue for me is children without caregivers. Children without loving caregivers are in a vulnerable immediate position. Children who do not have reliable role models, family or security but their brave act of defiance and rejecting possible dangers in their past residences or family deserves some one to step in and assume a caregiving and educational option.

Many street kids faced choices, yes, if you call being a teen or being abused a qualified and fully informed state of decision making. Many steet kids felt their lives wer not safe at home. Because of their unusual and challenging life outside and alternative ways of making a living, they do not fit into traditional educational settings. Literacy programs not only help these children learn to read, but it allows them to be assisted. I see art making and art viewing as another form of literacy.

I offered to provide the instructors and food for such an innovative idea as an outdoor art facility geared towards homeless children. They could be immigrants or handicapped or disenfranchised. The means and challenges of homeless kids are infinite. The main identity of a homeless child is without a reliable shelter, education, role models or care-givers. I suggested a step towards offering an aspect of education I feel is sorely lacking even among our most fortunate children. But why not take a risk and help the ones who do not even have a class room? Instead of questioning the value of charity to one group over another, I hoped David Moos might be inspired and even passionate about my proposal to let the AGO offer an original community practice harbouring and encouraging the imaginations of forgotten, often abused, members of our society.

I still hope David might let this idea roll around in his consciousness and heart...and start to see the awesome opportunity for not only lost children, but for The Art Gallery of Ontario..maybe even directing me to one of the members of the Board of Directors of the gallery who sees what an outreach program like this could birth, and has the connections and talent for organizing tents and some donations of art supllies.


Gordon Bennett. Put me in mind of a 10cc song.

mister anchovy said...

Well it has been a while since you submitted the questions and I was beginning to doubt that they were going to be responded to. I have to give some credit to Dr. Moos and the Gallery for being gutsy enough to respond to an excellent and challenging set of questions.

I will likely have several comments over the next few days on this interview, but for right now, this one. One of the most bizarre sights I have seen in many years occurred when I went to the AGO to see the Warhol exhibition. We walked into the main gallery and saw 30 or 40 people obediently standing in the middle of the room, looking at the walls, with these sound devices jammed against their heads. It was as if they were all trying to get in touch with the mother-ship. I'm happy to have Mr. Cronenberg's comments - a modest catalogue would have been appropriate I think - but I resented being told I had to pick up a sound device before entering the gallery. (I was told no choice, I had to pick up the device) I will not have some curator dictate to me how to experience art with add-ons or plug-ins or anything else. Looking at everyone standing there with their sticks attached to their heads, I thought of The Prisoner. I am not a number. I am a free man.

That said, the show was otherwise strong. Projecting film on the walls was a good idea. Was it worth 18 bones? Look, that's pricey any way you look at it, particularly if the curator defines the gallery like this: We Bring Art and People Together and boldly declare Art Matters.

Candy Minx said...

Four Dinners, hi you are so funny. I should explain for non-Britains that "Gordon Bennett" is an expletive. I should like to know which 10cc song you were reminded of...?

Mister Anchovy, I agree that Mr. Moos and the Art Gallery do get a shout out for this interview. Let's face it, curators and galleries have a very different perspective and risk than you and I, as artists experience. It's natural that we see exhibitions and art from not only different positions, but from different worlds at times. Curators are dedicated to preserving the past and making historical reference where many artists come at those concepts locking horns.

I had forgotten about the recorded devices because I didn't use mine. I was with friends from overseas and they were also uncomfortable and wondering about why we would listen to something while looking at the art.

I adore Cronenberg. LOVE his work. But god herself isn't going to interpret my viewing experience. I believe in letting work hold up on it's own at least in the intial viewing. I like the idea of the talk with Cronenberg, and I might have recommended that a patron return to listen or buy a cd of the Cronenberg perspective...and then return to the exhibit.

Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper are the baddest bad asses in Hollywood, and when they starred in True Romance together we did not pay extra for our movie ticket entrance. Production costs cover those kinds of casting coups. Not the audience.

Later when I listened to the Cronenberg piece I vastly enjoyed his perspective. He brought an interesting insight to the work and the artist. God knows I'd rather hear an artist talk about art than a critic or theorist. I have considered looking into whether or not there is a cd available. I also thought Rob Bowman's rap on Flaming Star was a lovely addition to the exhibit program sheet.

I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts Mr.A.

Gardenia said...

I enjoyed visiting all the links in your blog. I think you are right, we have to experience art, at least first from our own perspective but then we can be open to someone "guiding" that perspective. I say this, because as I work on the "dark doll" diorama box, I know just the music I want to put with it. The computer opened up a whole new world of "multi-media" to me...

anyway,though, I would not think of interpreting the piece for someone, but adding another dimension -

maybe I'm way off what you were talking about.

I think that is a wonderful idea you have for the homeless/innercity kids. A smaller city in Florida pulled that off quite well. It was set up sort of like a co-op and qualified for a few grants. They rented an old building (didn't have to be too fancy) in the inner city, and a few of the teachers at the art school and some of the students and the local artists began to do demonstrations and holding classes for the kids. Also they would have adult nights, complete with jazz, blues, & zydeco, & wine. It became sort of an alternative "museum" - a show place for budding artists, including the kids, demonstrations, teaching, very interactive and not stuck up like that curator you were interviewing. What a political jerk he seems to be.

The college was great, the kids were able to make pottery at the college, use the glazes & kilns and show at the downtown center. The potter/teacher that spear headed that part unfortunately died of not taking care of himself & diabetes.

My grandkids still have the pieces they made.

Oh, now I talk about it, I miss being there so much!

Candy Minx said...

HI Diana, yes, I agree with you about feelingthe art first ourselves and looking adn , later, secondary literature. Same with books. I don't read a lot of secondary literature, but sometimes,after reading a difficult or challenging novel it is fun to go find some theory or literary criticism. There's good and there's not so great.

I like the idea of music with your dolls. And there are so many many people who make music but never got famous or a record deal, or are just starting out that would love to collaborate on something like that idea. And you could do it through e-mail!

Yes, the Florida arts program you described sounds wonderful. I did volunteer ina literacy program for steet kids, and there was an arts room, but I'd love to see a really comprehensive environment and a variety of art mentors. The thing is, this may be an interest of mine, but a program like this also is a way to care and assess the kids. I'll find a way to do it some how.

christopher higgs said...


Thanks so much for visiting my spot and for leaving such a nice comment. I really enjoyed reading this interview; it illuminated a lot of interesting insider info. And you ask great questions! Especially the personal ones, which I always find interesting, such as your question about what painting he has hanging in his bedroom.

I'm going to spend some time perusing your site more, and will add a link to you at my place, if you don't mind.

- Chris

Gardenia said...

Exactly! I think art is a healing process. This center had glass blowers wth demos, the pottery, paintings with demos, and, of course the gallery viewing - then a section that could be reserved each week for the newer artist. Hard to explain, a combo of an art flea market, teaching center, gallery.........have you ever thought about art therapy?

Some private enterprise may contribute money - some will surprise you with a lot. Takes a lot of footwork, patience, and willingness to be rejected. Doesn't look like this curator gives a rip.

Also the Pensacola Museum of Art has Saturday morning programs for children...

That is where I saw a Chihully Glass Exhibit - the whole environment had been staged to enhance the art - even the shadows moving throgh the glass - it was so magnificent I just stood there and cried a few minutes before spending an afternoon in a wonderland. They do have some respectible shows there. Once a year the membership that are budding artists have a show.

Anonymous said...

Good work Candy. posted some criticism of the Warhol/Cronenburg combo that you may find interesting. (scroll down a bit)

One thing that bothered me was his answer to your question about his dream list of art acquisitions. His list confirmed, to me anyway, the unbearably depressing fact that things that make major institutions believe they are international in scope may be the same things that make me believe that so many permanent collections are becoming hopelessly homogenous.

ems said...

Know absolutely nothing about Canadian art (sorry!) but found this interesting.

Our biggest galleries in London are free now - for their permanent collections. Special exhibitions generally cost about £10. Is that how the AGO works?

I wish he'd given a straight answer to your fantastic proposal to teach street kids art. The fact other groups would benefit doesn't mean it shouldn't happen for these kids - and you seem to be doing all the organising and hard work. (Slightly alarmed by the use of the word 'handicapped'. Consigned to the dustbins of history over here).

Anonymous said...

Candy thank you for stopping by and inviting me to join this discussion. Being a novice in this area I think I am too green to offer much input regarding your interview. I will visit the links you have listed within the interview and learn more.

My sister is, or rather was, a very talented artist. I found it interesting that one of your earlier professors mentioned that so few that study art would still be in the field 10 years later. That is exactly what happened to my sister unfortunately. In recent years she'd been trying to get her muse back, but in 2004 she had an operation and suffered a brain injury as a result. Now she doesn't feel that she can ever paint again. Through my own exploration of photography as a form of Art I've been trying to inspire her towards using her creative talent in any way that she can.

As for your proposal to Moos regarding setting up an arts program for homeless/ street children - he didn't really answer your question did he? When setting up a program like this you need to start with at least one group of people. Your choice is homeless street kids. Forget the AGO on this project. I think its a worthy proposal. Can you find a way to make it happen by getting funding from private sponsors? Can you talk to the Mayors office or one of the departments within our municipal government regarding securing a free or low rent space in which to provide this program to these kids? Perhaps the Government of Ontario could help in the matter in some way. Explore other avenues. It sounds like you have a solid plan- you just need a way to make it happen. Perhaps the AGO might be interested in sponsoring the project once it has started.

Now I'm off to explore those links and educate myself.

Candy Minx said...

Chris, link away! Please, links equal love in blogland. I am very pleased to hear you enjoyed the interview. And thank you for your kind words.

Diana, Yes, I like your ideas. Glass blowing has always been a popular medium for all kinds of people. There is something very accessible about the watching and result of glass art. Pilchuk is an institution on the west coast so I am pretty familiar with it's audience and influence...from restaurants to corporate sponsorship. People seem to really like glass!

Funny you should ask about the healing potential of art, and art therapy. Well, art therapy always seemed like an oxymoron to me. I've never been the kidn of artist who gets all relaxed and peaceful in the studio. Usually just the opposite and making art often is coming from a crzy intense place within my personality rather than something calming. I am quite boring in person and not the life of a party...instead I seem to be more adventurous making art or writing scropts. And "painting is thinking" as is writing. So it's actually kind of sweatproducing for me rather than therapy. Now as for healing...well I can't say I could stand behind the idea that art heals oneself or an audience. But I am a big believer that art and literature (including film and myths) may have transformative potential...depending on the reader themselves. Let's face it, change and transformationa re risky even scary concepts for a lot fo peopel in our society. We value constancy, stability in our stock markets, jobs, families, health. And we tend to forcefeed a strange notion of paralyzing conformity on our children by forcing them to attend schools all day and then after school programs. But yes, I think art and literature can work upon a persons imagination much like love or religion might. Or recreational or psychotopic plants have in many societies.

l.m. wow, that was a great link to the site about the Warhol show. It's funny because I wrote about the show here in Chicago last spring and my impression was so about him being gay and his godess worship. Loved the link, thank you so much. You make a powerful statement about the idea of "internationalism" or could we say "globalization" of art in museums. Yes, and yes.

Ems, I have always been opposed to charging for admission to the permanent collection at the AGO. In Chicago, there was a charge to enter the Warhol exhibit, but the rest of the gallery was free. The astounding Art Institute here is by donation, and the collection is incredible, beyond belief. I really appreciate you popping by here, thanks!

Tricia, you know within the performance and art communities, really, the famous actors and actresses made "it" by surviving the kind of rejection and life's knocks you allude to in your comments. In many ways, the artists who have worked continuously for twenty , thirty years with extreme sucess OR very little acknowledgement, countless rejections are really tough bastards to be frank. Some of the most astounding imaginations I've ever met and the most delightful artmakers...simply were too nice and sensitive to make it and keep producing. I wouldn't want to say that artists and actors or writers were overly sensitive or special...we're not, but when working with one's imagination, one does tend to open up all kinds of pandoras boxes(personal. professional, private and public) and it is critical for the person to be strong and have a strong sense of community and freinds and family. There is a reason for the stereotpe of substance abuse and mental health issues among artist personalities, it can be a very difficult path to choose since the emotional and spiritual life is sometiems and often connected to the same functions of tapping into the imagination and the world really of childhood. Children have free reign of their imaginations before we beat it out of them. And art and writing depends on returning to that world of one's childhood history can come rushing up for better or for worse through this kind of work.

And ona lighter note, it is important to remember something.

Curators are in the business of preserving imagination.
And artists are in the business of using imagination.

No wonder there is a seemingly vast gulf between the two professions.

Rockitoomee said...

I think Mr. Moo's still scratching from the pokings and proddings of your interview, Candy. Very informative. I was disappointed not to see my name mentioned in the 100 most influential...maybe next year. I've posted some shots from our new place. Come by and see. Love ya babe

Gardenia said...

Thank you for your comments about my comment - you gave me much food for thought - yes, maybe the "healing" is the transformation. I don't relax much with art, although I think the endorphins kick in, because I get "high" it seems, once they kick in I can stay up 24 hours and do art - but there is the urge (for me) to create, then the begining and sort of a "high," then the disaster stage where I think nothing is happening, think I do trash, etc., then the problem solving stage...and from there, hard work. But then that is much like therapy - no happy feelings, just dealing with stuff and work!

Spent some time checking out the website of NGO - very interesting. The Annual Report doesn't mention all the money that comes in - actual operating costs are pretty low considering the massive size of the place. Looks like goverment grants are about 50%, yet people are giving millions (like $180 M so far, which must be going to renovatino, expansion??? not considered op costs?) to this institution. Its pretty interesting. They do (unless there is more than one NGO) have some programs for kids - but you are right, definitely not free. Here's a toast to you for confronting them. I checked the heirarchy to see how its run....i.e, president, board, etc. This could be quite a study - - comparing these behemoths.

Gardenia said...

Oh - P.S. in the annual report is quite a list of donors - these could be a gold mine for your dream - they obviously are givers...the political ramifications however for an artist seeking to be in a gallery might end up at cross purposes.

I found galleries in my area of Florida were quite gallery owner loved my African paintings...then a new sponsor came in and I was out on the street with my giraffs, zebras, and elephants so to speak.

I bet this NGO has politics like you wouldn't believe.

Candy Minx said...

Diana, good morning, what a delight to wake up and see your many thoughts here about relazing, therapy and politics! Whew!

Well, art is play. That is some kind of "truthiness". When we compare all the jobs a person can have, art making, music composing...the image is someone having fun. It's not percieved as "work". But this doesn't mean it's not demanding. You have described a process most artists seem to go through, "but there is the urge (for me) to create, then the begining and sort of a "high," then the disaster stage where I think nothing is happening, think I do trash, etc., then the problem solving stage...and from there, hard work. But then that is much like therapy - no happy feelings, just dealing with stuff and work!"

I would say many many artists would describe many of their processes in stages like this. Sometimes our ideas are fun and sometimes thinking can be counter productive and put us into a stall. All of which tends to help us complete the idea. Same as any job, really. It's kind of comical. The idea that art is just all fingerpainting and messy fun is because we have a low need for art, it's relegated to hobby, or pasttime, and certainly no one believes one can or should make money at it, heh heh. It's the cliche of the cocktail party where a neurologist meets a painter and says, oh I love art, when I retire I'm going to take up painting. And the artist says, that's funny. When I retire I'm going to take up brain surgery.

And funny, but artists don't retire. Why would we, we are living the dream! Look at Matisse, no arthritis was going to stop him from working. The imagination doesn't belong to the world of time and age.

Sheesh, you probably know more about the Gallery than I do now after reading all that stuff. It is sort of fascinating though isn't it? There is a very small percentage of the population that deals with art as a business...and it all ties into the idea of "can culture be bought" and our society and the few people who run the world believe it can be packaged up and sold. When we hear about Picasso and Van Gogh selling for ludicrous amonts of millions...well the art mafia seems to be correct.

You know, I think there is room for everybody. Isn't that what Elvis said? It's fine to have these public institutions, and a select group of people who trade and covet famous particular art movements. What is mysterious to the wide berth encouraged between the social classes regarding art. Look at fashion, we can see the wild expensive gowns at red carpets, the MTV fashion shows...yet people still go to boutiques and department stores and buy clothes. Watching three seasons of the clothing game show...Project Runway where these extrememly talented people are cranking out awesome outfits and clothes ina matter of days really inspired me to see the back side of fashion. It's very much like art. We can see that talent, imagination and accessibility are not subject to the rich. These designers have to make clothes on bare budgets, a, like 75 dollars for an evening dress, and in two days. All the big business of fashion is something else entirely...and it's the same with art.

There is an idea that to protect and maintain art as special, otherwordly, non-utilitarian, elite that it keeps it special and precious providing an excellent way to make money disappear.

And you're right, I am better served to seek a community art project for free participation outside the gallery system.

Yes, there will be a lot of politics at any institution. Any time you get a few people together the politics follow. Especially in an agricultural economy. We have been brainwashed to segregate, elevate, dismiss, and categorize human energy into monetary hierarchies. It's ironic to consider David Moos' need to level out the field for charity before making a commitment against the marketing of art that divides artists into a notion of historical correctness and priviledge.

Candy Minx said...

The comments here have been so awesome and really made me think. I am hoping that since this was posted on a Friday afternoon, that this week someone from the Art Gallery Public Relations will stop by here and respond. I'm going to e-mail them this morning and see if any one has the time or inclination to check out your ideas.

I think the people who have made comments here were very brave, expecially because I know some of you are artists...and in some ways a large gallery might be percieved as having an affect on one's job. I really admire the honesty and opinions and I think the court of public opinion is what keeps all institutions on their toes and fresh. I checked the site meter for this weekend, and was blown away how many people had stopped by on a weekend, and it is usually quiet, at least on this blog, for weekend traffic so I am sort of assuming it was the content of this interview that drew a few extra visitors.

The Art Gallery staff has a huge passion for art and for working with art and the public and I think they were very cool to participate on this little ol blog at all. Especially when I read the challenging and insightful perspectives within these few comments. heh heh. I was aware there might be some strong ideas on this interview but have been really excited by the participation. Thanks a lot folks!


Hi babe. So much of this went whoosh over me head. Made me think of "Art For Art's Sake". 'N as Rockitoomee said - love yer babe

mister anchovy said...

This interview is the question of the day here:

Shep said...

Only just read all this properly - fantastic stuff. Good to read something with a bit of discussion to it.

I had the pleasure of seeing the Warhol retrospective at the Centre Pompidou waaay back in 1990, can't remember what we paid, not a lot I think. It was well laid out, and I could browse uninterrupted. The 'death' room was particularly striking. I don't think I could do the 'Cronenberg commentary' thing in real time, but a CD or DVD thing I would have probably shelled out green for.

Hanging on the bedroom wall in Quiet Devon - Lichtenstein's Interior With Waterlilies!

* (asterisk) said...

Candy, I have finally got around to reading this: first order of business today. Wow. First, I think respect where it's due to David Moos. It's great that he was willing to accept your interview.

On the whole I would say he has somewhat taken an official, non-controversial line in his answers, but I guess that's to be expected. The participation is the important thing.

As regards your coup de grace, the final question of the interview, I think Moos, while evading it entirely, does make some valid counter questions, although the implication that street kids are less deserving is in poor taste.

I don't get to as many galleries as I should, but frankly that is down to the fact that when I visit a city I'm usually only there for a short time and I'd sooner soak up the atmosphere of the place than visit a stuffy room of art, regardless of how important the featured artists are, or how much I love their work.

Big props to you, Candy, for securing this exclusive blogland interview, and for posing questions that I think will resonate with Moos for some time to come.

Red said...

Me too, Candy, me too! We finally printed the interview out last night so as to read it in an easier format. And here are my humble thoughts...

I agree with *, in fact I mentioned it to him last night, that Moos gives you the kind of replies a politician would give you. Sitting on the fence at times, and certainly not elaborating when it would have been relevant for him to do so. I guess that's one of the limitations of conducting an interview online, as it were, that you -- the interviewer -- can't probe further when something as charged as this is mentioned:

David: Did I say that Canadian art is a bad investment? No. Does Canadian art offer opportunistic collectors intent on making money through the acquisition and re-sale of artworks the same kinds of rewards available in international contemporary art? No.

Well... according to the Loose Lips column, that's exactly what he has been saying. And the second question he asks himself seems to support that yes, buying Canadian art is indeed a bad financial investment, so what gives? I think he's playing games with words here.

As for punchline art, * and I were watching this amazing programme on the story behind The Ecstasy of St Theresa by Bernini, in Rome. It went into the highs and lows of Bernini's life as a papally commissioned artist, his ambitions, his sense of grandeur. It was great stuff... I wish now we had taped it for you. Anyway, at the end of the programme, they were looking at how this sculpture by Bernini had affected (and continues to affect) whatever art came after it. And they had the balls to say that Tracey Emin's Unmade Bed was absolutely a modern take on St Theresa, especially in terms of the way the sheet hangs off the bed, which is reminiscent of the glorious drapery of Bernini's sculpture. Well, pardon me if I'm wrong, but Bernini crafted those folds, those gathered garments, from a block of marble, he didn't just let a sheet fall across a bed and called it art. I do agree with you that "To the majority of the public art has become...a joke." And modern artists -- but perhaps, more tellingly, modern art critics -- have lost all sense of perspective. Creating a piece of art is not the same as thowing ping pong balls down a flight of stairs, putting an animal in formaldehyde or showing your dirty bed.

I also agree with you about the excruciatingly bad taste of a pink hearse (come on!) and about why anyone should be asked to pay extra just because some guy who doesn't really need any extra money gave his time to create a commentary. You're right, we don't pay more or less at the cinema according to which stars or unprofessional actors star in a film. That's another nonsense reply he gave you, and again, I wish you had been able to talk to him face to face to put him on the spot.

You rock, Candy! Your ideas are genius, and I reckon you should pitch them to the Tate in London, I wonder if you might find a more receptive platform...

Candy Minx said...

Look out Fergie! Look out London, here comes Candy!

Candy does the Tate.

It's got a ring don't it?

Red, I agree that there is a staticness about doing a set of questions and responses via e-mail. It would be a lot of fun to be in person...but I think there is an ease and democracy around an email/blog interview that allow more and more people from different persectives to communicate.

And...I think, David Moos is going to drop by and follow up.

I was howling about Emin's sheet and The Ecstacy of St. Theresa. Yes, well, this kind of connection and brief flaunt of reference is what is known affectionately as
"historical correctness". You will hear artists writing statements of how their work alludes to such and such or curators will do the same. This desperate act of justifying some art or placing it in line with the past has always been a diservice to most art in my opinion. for one thing, it's a little cheap t say the sheets of Unmade bed riff on St. Theresa, and I suspect Emin herself wouldn't like that reference. MY impression of Emin is that she sees herself as a new type of art. She has often spoke against painting and the past traditions in art and aligned herself with what are they called Britartists? I actually get a bit of a kick and feel for Emin's work and life. I mean, she kind of gets a bum rap. The really insightful thing about the Unmade Bed is how it migght actually be a reflection of how little work space female artists have. It indicates to me a lack of a studio. Lack of space in the art world by being able to afford studio space and the space of press and admiration.That an female artists place is "who she sleeps with" and she did another piece about her list of bed mates, sexual and non sexual. I think her work would be better served without this ignorant attempt to "justify it" by comparing her to male artists of the past. Her work is a little too autobiographical for my tastes, I am not really into diarist content...but I think her work doesn't stop there. It really makes sense when you realize how few womens names show up on "power lists" or favourites. You know, these galleries and magazines can give all the shows and reviews of women they want, but the work is not held dear to the is a phony kind of legislated acceptance.

Asterisk, thanks for your kind support. I agree that David Moos makes some good points regarding the las question about street kids. But let me explain my concern in another way. These are valid questions for a existential class. They represent the hopelessness many people in the modern world feel towards charity. The tone suggests to me there are so many needy how can we help any? A kind of guilt at choosing one needy group over another. You see for me, this isn't an existential angst situation. By dividing needy people into immigrants, learning disabilities, handicaps, poverty, terminally ill...those qualifications that David Moos asked about are not immediately associated to children with out caregivers or parents. Moos feelings about choice and homelessness and children was actually the aspect of his response that concerned me the most. I understan the idea of getting all existential over world troubles, thats a valid expression. But to say children who live outside have had a choice is a perspective coming from misinformed inexperience. These kids only had a choice, in their minds, between a domestic situation where they felt so much risk, they felt living outside was safer.

A lot of people have misinformed perceptions about what motivates people to live outiside. There are many situations and reasons for this decision, but to consider a child as having a choice in the same way we have a choice over what clothes to buy, what books to buy, what car to drive, waht school to send our kids...etc etc is not really "choice".

I've known and worked with many many homeless kids...I'd be willing to take a stand and say that many times, these young people have so many incredible problem solving skills and temperments that are extremely sensitive to poetry, writing, art making and of course most young people do...but they don't have the space or mentorship. In answer to the existential query of David Moos, are they more needy or worse off? Maybe not, but they don't have parents, and many are handicapped, poor and immigrants.

Not working with the Art Gallery of Ontario on this really cool charitable idea is not a loss to the potential homeless children out there. It's a loss to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

And I am inspired to carry on with my plan and do it privately.

Yes, I see what both Asterisk and Red mean when they say David Moos has taken an official, non-controversial position in his responses. That is his job and I completely understand that. His most passionate and intuitive response was about the homeless children. The business of art marketing and curating is exactly that, and there are millions of dollars involved, so I do understand the Board of Directors preffering that kind of non-controversial art purchasing and promotion. It's perfectly valid if not imaginative and like I said earlier, there is room for everyody, I'd like to think.

For the most part, in our society, the only allowance we have allowed for freedom, innovation and imagination is in the arts...and music producers, art collectors, property speculators and politicians are not comfortable with the act of imagination. They can not be ever comfortable with imagination...if everybody in the world used their imagination to make art, innovate our consumption habits and how we make a living and help each other...they would lose their jobs.

* (asterisk) said...

Candy, thanks for your considered, in-depth response. If I may briefly say so, the Tate visit sounds awesome! Do Tate Modern. I tell ya, I like a lot of modern art, and I even don't mind Emin a little bit, but there is some crazy shit in the Tate Modern. One piece I saw was a photograph (I think; could've been a painting -- I was a bit drunk) of a person's pelvic area, the only item of "clothing" being an uncooked chicken in lieu of underwear. I like to think of it as being called "Chicken knickers", but I rather suspect that isn't its real name.

Also, though, in case there is any doubt, I am aware that all too often the only choice faced by street kids is abuse or the street. That's the kind of choice we could all live without.

Red said...

Off topic: Yo, Miss C, you should come and play "Guess the film" over at my blog. Maybe you can help Karen of HMS Swiftsure out. I think it's doing her head in!

Anonymous said...

this is an amaxing resource, candy. i've just had a chance to skim, not read, so I'll postpone commenting in full until I've read the whole thing, but I wanted to thank you: 1) for putting so much thought into these wonderful questions, amd 2) posting--and beginning the discussion about--the dialogue.

Lynn said...

Hey Candy,

I wanted to take the time to read this well so I would have a good response.
I will tell you that I am a curator's circle member of the ROM. I have been for quite some time. My son and I usually make great use of the archives(when available, and not under renovation) and we do alot of research and study at the ROM. When you are a hobbist anthropologist you spend alot of time looking at and watching everything.
The ROM does a great job of cross-notification by way of telephoning members about area exhibits and asking if they could make arrangements to purchase tickets etc. Now that may be only for us "higher-end" members. Reguardless that is my impression. The AGO has not always been so keen on telling me what is going on. I did get a call about the Warhall exhibit, but I said that I was passing on this one for personal reasons(mostly I am still recovering from illness and these days I don't make plans too far in advance.)
I thought that you posed some hard questions to Mr Moos.
I have been and I always will be a Canadian collector of Canadian art. I don't collect it for any monetary value it would have, for I would never sell one piece...ever!
I collect Canadian because I am Canadian. We have a diversity of culture that can only be mirrored by possibly 3 other countries. Our rich talent in artists contemporary and not is amazing!
I am prejudice for certain! I am so lucky to know some of the great artists of Canada, and especially Ontario.
Some of my fondest memories are of days spent in the company of such people.
Sometimes the art elite can lose site of the true art. I see art in painting, photography, music, decorating, sculpture, pottery, glass, and floral arrangements. I also love our hand crafts. Sometimes this means quilts and such, but moreso the Indian beadwork and tufting and quill art.
I was introduced to the carving artists when I was in my childhood at around 8yrs old. From Decoys to Totem is all here in Canada!
We are not bladed by one characiture of art here.
Often collectors have only one vision of Canada's value in the art world today.
I see a cornucopia of choices for all price ranges for those who want to say I am Canadian by the artlife within their walls.

I see Mr Moos as a bottom line guy who has to please a board when he makes his decisions. Just like any other business he must answer to the masses when he makes his decisions. I understand his position. show us something we are missing about art, artistry, and art-feel here. It is being lost, and it is not thought of in the grand sceme of things, as an important and valuable commodity for Canada to invest well in itself for. From the stage to the tripod, to the canvas we are short-changing our culture by not supporting the art with the funds we know are available for it!

Why has our Government forced Men like Mr Moos to become a puppet because of budget restraints that force boards to nit pick, and possibly overlook choices which could be diamonds in the rough, or doors that link us to amazing passages of the imagination?

Great Work!

And Happy Halloween!

Anonymous said...

Love the interview and I have to give huge credit to the AGO and David Moos for taking part.

Quite honestly, I take issue with the attitude I am getting from many people commenting here. Of course it would be great to offer a wide range of community outreach and free admission to the permamnent collection, etc. But the fact remains that this is a government funded institution and government money for the arts is getting harder to come by.

The fact also is that the Toronto community (outside the quite wealthy) as a whole has shown itself to be less than financially generous to the arts. I get the sense that many people think a massive gallery like the AGO is something they are entitled to. It is not. If you believe in what this institution can be then we need to support it, not complain that an exhibit was overpriced, or that something should be free. If we cannot put a financial price to our own commitment to art, than how can we expect the government to?

The AGO has to meet a huge range of demands from a wide range of people and I think they do quite a good job at trying to give something to everyone. And just because they are not open to engaging on a particular project does not mean they are not active in the community as is. I just think people lean towards finding fault before looking at the reality of the situation.

Anonymous said...

Candy I am in awe of what I have read here. I want to reach into the computer and hug you and the commenters. This dialogue illustrates the severity of what many artists today are facing as far as prejudice, monetary value and most of all not being seen at all save for a few lucky, yes lucky ones.

Being a successful artist is not about money for me. However it is about money because without money in todays world artists only can sub-sist.

I find myself ina place that is becoming quite honestly scary for me. I feel i have become slave to my own imagination which can be and is a beautiful experience to endevour but as the days pass, almost 3 decades of my artwork sits, lays, hangs or is packed away in portfolios.

I don't know how to do anything else. I am compelled to continue creating. Financially though I have had to sell my soul in the name of the almighty dollar that advertising, mass-media and coorporate communication give to artist produce en MASSE a brand, a logo and a billboard.

I would love to see ARTISTs take over billboards all over the country plastering them with decades of their work to show the populace how beatiful life is.

I have been running into problems in the blogosphere... as being seen as too personal and too revealing but for me that is natural to share my emotions and stories through word, image and sound. I just came out of treatment for mental health issues. They literally unlearn you all the things society teaches you. The trouble is when one gets out of treatment and feels like an artist again she is met with the same from the populace.

"you are so talented and gifted"
"can you draw me a flower that looks like this, i like the one you drew however this way would be better".
"go get a job"
"go work as a graphic designer"
"struggling artist"

Being talented and gifted into todays world doen't make money. I long for the days gone by when there were Matrons or Patrons of singular artists. Can you imagine what the world would become if for every artist there was a matron. There is enough money in the world to do this. There are enough artists in the world who could live on this money. Together the two would be a living history. The world would be so beautiful.

I see many artists Candy truning to the web. It is the only true free-market for artists today. I hope what happens online begins spilling offline.

thank you for sharing such a wonderful piece. It gives me hope :)

mister anchovy said...

A comment on collecting. Tuffy P and I consider it a high priority to buy Canadian art, even though we're both also painters. We love to live with art, and we love to support other artists when we have a little coin to do so. We have a small circle of friends who buy art too, but most of the people we know really don't think about making art part of their lives at all. Yet some of those people have asked me in the past, why do you need to have a day job? Why can't you live on the sale of your artwork, to which I invariably answer with this question: When was the last time you bought a work of art made by a living Canadian artist? End of conversation. Buying Canadian art is a fabulous and valuable investment in Canadian culture. It is an investment in our creative people, and I think that is absolutely worthwhile. I could care less if a work I buy goes up in value. I'm not going to flip it like real estate. Buy a piece of Canadian art today, and make it part of your life. ...By the way, the last piece of Canadian art we bought was a fabulous little painting by Brian Kipping.

Gardenia said...

I loved Jessica's comments...I would like to see those billboards. It would look like - "artists take over the world." wouldn't that show the snooty galleries. I love galleries that make it easy to buy an artists' work.

Joseph a - go read the Annual Report for AGO. Couldn't they use just a tiny portion of that $180 Million that they aren't using for operating costs (check out their "income" - could that be?) to give some incredibly talented poor kid a chance at being someone by donating a couple hours a week and a $100 worth of art supplies?

* (asterisk) said...

Like Diana, I'd also like to address Joseph A's comment about admission prices to the permanent gallery. You hit the nail on the head, Joseph, when you said it is a "government-funded institution". This surely means, ultimately, that Canadian people pay for it through taxation and the like. It is, essentially, owned by the people, so should it not be free for them to see? At the very least, Canadians should be permitted free access, even if tourists have to pay. London's permanent exhibitions have been free for at least five years or so, with donations welcomed. If it can work here, why not in Toronto?

Candy Minx said...


Asterisk, yes, I know that you understand the opportunity and need that helping street kids would aid the community a well as individuals. If we realize that the places they live, shanty towns, in Canada, and the way they make a living is very similar economy as a refuge camp seen in desperate countries.

Red, I was painting in public yesterday...getting my geek on...sorry to miss the movie trivia question. I love a good trivia hunt.

Minerva Jane, I am glad you found some resources here in this post. I thought the film interview with Montreal curator Stepahne Aquin was quite telling.

Lynn, GO LYNN! Give me an L, give me a Y, give me a N, N, give me another N!! LYNN! Living with art and music, that's what I'm talking about!

Joseph A, thanks so much for commenting. And I very much agree with you that it is lovely of the AGO to have granted this interview to this environment. I hope I have made it clear that I am very pleased to have this insight and to hear from different perspectives. I can understand why some of the comments might be unsettling to you or other visitors. It is very seldom that the public has a voice regarding public institutions and galleries. The people who have posted here are not voicing unusual attitudes. Believe it or not, the attitude and opinions here are very very reserved and polite compared to endless discussions with the public I've had regarding art, galleries, education and stature within the art scene. This is the tip of the iceberg of the kinds of alienation, confusion and irrelevance of public art collections that many people feel. When openminded highly creative people like Mister Anchovy, Jessica, Diana, Asterisk, each of whom are not only artistically commited but even, edgy and liberal supporters of art making, are expressing doubts....we are in serious trouble. These personalities should be shoe-ins for feeling at home and challenged in exhibition spaces. And these are only the voices that felt comfortable expressing their doubts in a public and accountable format. Joseph, just these four ARE the chorus that galleries and institutions representing the history and moments of human imagination are preaching to. It is scary when even artistic souls are doubting some of the practices and choices that the Art Gallery of Ontario has made. I realize the AGO has to meet the needs of the masses and the public. Of course, and that is exactly where the doubts are spawned in these comments. Asterisk pointed out that this is a partly public funded organization. We aren't being too hard on the AGO here, just saying our perspective. I didn't expect David Moos to jump on board with the idea of assisting with a outdoors open drop in space for anyone. I didn't know how he would respond. I more or less expected a simple. "interesting idea, but we don't have the time or money to donate circus tents and art supplies. I didn't expect an existential view that homeless children make a choice and deserve their fate. Joseph, I'm not losing sleep over this, and I am aware that the AGO does do many lessons and educational programs. The comments here are not addressed personally to Moos or any of the staff, of which I know many of them. These comments and ideas are just regular opinions about the entire process. And besides, David Moos says he thrives on criticism, so I am sure that fed into a comfort zone here in the comments.

Jessica, hugs right back at you sweetheart! I'm glad you found some thing of interest here. I mentioned earlier in these comments that a lot of people don't realize that by the time someone has been practicing art or writing or music for ten twenty years...with or without classical or contemporary definitions of sucess...we have lost some tender talented people by then in the community, and the ones that still go at it, are somewhat resilient, even tough bastards heh heh. You should give your self more credit for your resolve and passion to practivcing your imagination. You are correct that therapy encourages seeing through and shuffling off the social constructs that keep people with mental health issues conforming to extreem and unsymapthetic and often bizarre levels of work loads and repression. Mix that with being an artist and one must have a determination and passion that can break boundaries while still defining boundaries. Tricky work, my dear, tricky work. I think the idea of more and more art being made and practiced in the public could be a grassroots transformation in our future. I really do.

KIds should be able to leave high school knowing the tradition of circles and bass notes in human communication. We shouldn't have to worry about listening wands to enforce visual literacy in art viewing.

But kids leave high school being forcefed the grueling task of studying at university and still without knowing how to cook themselves dinner, look at a painting and comprehend the ancient traditions and simple language within images including the ads, games, products they are bombarded with. Art is just another product by the time they grow up, and it's a product people feel is a low priority and too freaky in contemporary galleries.

Mister Anchovy, I love Brian Kipling, when you see his work you see a real painter! I have always found the business of art as investment an highly hysterical occurance. When we go into people's houses, all of us hang things on the walls and display our various levels of meaning and pleasure...people like their homes to be comfortable and to offer a reflection of their own layers of meaning within their lives. If they have to, they buy art at The Brick furniture warehouse.

What has happened that the extremes go from massive gallery purchases to factory art. Who is out there representing in the well-adjusted court of public opinion?

Diana and Asterisk and all...thanks for addressing Joseph's concerns so well and much much clearer than I ever could regarding the public funding of the gallery versus admission charges.


uh? Don't s'pose I ever had a plot to lose...

Underground Baker said...

Oh my god, I don't have time to read all the comments. I can only say that I have a new word that I shall use regularly - fabulate - of which I believe Mr. Moos was creating his own fabulations to hide behind, woven out of tired, politically correct threads. Good God, was he saying that there are so many terrible things in the world that he has choosen to do nothing? Kind of a strange thing for someone who is in a public position to say.
Great interview Candy, I can't wait to go through it and the comments in a more leisurely and thoughtful manner.

Anonymous said...

I own a private gallery- ACA Gallery, art can change the world www.acagallery
I took on the financial responsibility to make art accessible plus an incubator for art and social change. Okay- heres the challenge- I have the place available to help out- my mandate no funding so whoever is interested in setting up or volunteering drop me a line through my website.
Talk is cheap- lets get out and do something.

Carol Mark
art can change the world

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