Saturday, October 7, 2017

Art: for the people...ALL of the people.

An interesting, and somewhat saddening, recent work conversation: 

Temping for a little while at a warehouse/shipping branch of a reasonably large company in the area, I found myself engaging in some of my usual favorite opportunities to stand on my soapbox. Most people there, both employees and temps,were REALLY nice and easy to get along with...and I found that refreshing...and they were pretty open too. Working class people tend to have less barriers and hangups overall, I've found over the years. 

One guy does fractal art and has some of his work on display at a local gallery. Three of us were discussing it. The third person is a really pleasant older woman from a poor background. The artist encouraged her to check out his work, and the work of almost 40 other artists, at this gallery. 

"Art galleries" she responded, "aren't those just for rich people? Whenever I see art galleries on TV, it always looks like all the people in them are rich." 

"Actually, far from it", I said. "In fact, most art galleries charge nothing for's one of the few free things you can do anymore." 

"Oh", she said, brightening up considerably, "I'll go down there one of these days then." 

The whole exchange was something I mulled over for a while. It did not surprise me that that was her impression: frankly, I've NEVER seen a scene taking place in an art gallery where people were not dressed to the nines. But there is a further issue, and that is that so many people on the lower economic echelons of this culture have the notion that art is only for an elite few and that there is some sort of boundary between themselves and it. I find this unsurprising, as so many people in the arts world (but not necessarily the artists themselves) present a veneer of classicism and elitism (and then they wonder why the general public doesn't go to bat for them when budgets get slashed by troglodytes like our current Thug-in-Chief). 

(It also brought to mind some of the MOSTLY unconscious snobbery of some of the Trustafarians living in a certain town not too far from me who seem to regard themselves as "It", and everyone who is not one of them as "The Help"...and then wonder why they are so despised by the non-entitled in this area.) 

Food for thought. Art should be for The People. ALL of the people...even the people who park your cars and clean your houses (if you are one who can afford such luxuries): in that way we are ALL enriched and the arts well as the minds that perceive said art.