Thursday, October 18, 2012

Meow Mix (Much Ego over Nothing.)



“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” - John Wooden

Hello Blogiteers!

Today’s blog is about
Ego, and how too much of it can be a bad thing, especially when you let it win out over common sense and possible career opportunities.

As regular readers are well aware of, I’m all about the networking- its pretty much an open secret in the PAC that I’ll show up to the opening of a box of cookies, if there’s even the slightest chance to press the flesh and spread my message of retooling the scene for the betterment of all.

However, despite this penchant for endless self-promotion, I also strongly believe in the notion of an organized and committed Arts community working as a whole, and that’s where my rant starts- with the annual artistic gathering of the PAC, the yearly group show known as Chaos Theory.


Curated by fellow Artist Randy Slack, the latest incarnation of this always kick-ass exhibition is in it’s 13th year, and features over 60 artists from all the disparate genres of our local art scene. To draw an analogy, it’s the Super Bowl for PHX creatives, kicking off the Winter Arts season in a big way, and this year was no exception to that particular rule.


Normally, this affair comes and goes with a large modicum of goodwill, partially due to the after parties being legendary, the art being incredible, and just having the mere thought of talking non-stop shop to the PAC Tribe happily ensconced under one roof makes a Chatty Cathy like myself positively dippy.


But this year’s event contained something new within the standard mix- an air of
scandal, courtesy of painter Suzanne “Meow Meow” Falk’s tissue-thin ego, delivered in the manner of a bitchy Andre Serrano. Falk has openly been rumored to be the resident Drama Queen of the PAC for some time now, and her innate capacity for focused self absorption is something that even this Artbitch can’t touch on his best day.

And by way of an addendum, I think referring to yourself as “
Meow Meow” with a straight face when you’re way past the age of fourteen is sort of absurd, but hey- maybe that’s just because I never had a really cool nickname when I was in High School, and I’m all like, bitter and stuff.

However, when it comes to her pride, I think this time she’s really outdone herself, and that is no small task where the PAC’s very own version of a crazy (yet artsy) cat lady is concerned. Even before I penned this latest screed, the Interweb was simply abuzz with the talk of it all, stirred on by the
Phoenix New Times article recounting Suzy’s latest “shoot thyself in foot” fiasco.

[ NSFW Link:
http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/jackalope/2012/10/suzanne_falk_randy_slack_chaos_theory_13.php ]
 

Penned by my best buddy Claire Lawton, this latest tale of faux manufactured outrage chronicles a one-sided tiff (of sorts) between CT’s curator/host Randy Slack and Suzy over the unforeseen exclusion of her submitted painting wryly titled: “ In Heaven everything is fine.” The 7” x 5” painting depicts a group of young men masturbating in a formation commonly referred to as a “circle jerk”, something that fittingly describes Ms. Falks’ overreaction to being excised from the show.

Most Creatives in her unenviable position would have gone one of two ways; either they’d race back to their studio and grab a suitable backup piece to maintain a slot in the show, or they would have politely bowed out, attended the event anyway, and quietly grumbled to their friends about the unfairness of no one recognizing their obvious genius over clandestine drinks in the parking lot.


You know. Like a true professional. But that’s not Falk’s style.


Suzy’s immediate response to Slack’s curatorial edict was to pull a move that twelve year old girls employ when they catch their BFF with the cute boy that they have a crush on- that is, to whine like a wounded kitten to anyone who’ll listen.

I quote from the PNT article:


“Falk went home and posted on her Facebook page: "my painting for chaos theory was refused -- i need time to choose my words for exactly what i want to say." She blocked Randy Slack, and in 24 hours, more than 175 comments from the art community poured in. Accusations of homophobia and hypocrisy were common, but the main discussion turned to censorship.”

Normally, this would be a puzzling show of immaturity for a mid-career Artist, and even if one were to play the role of devil’s advocate, her reaction still strikes strange, unless, like the Artbitch, you were once unwillingly drawn into her self-created drama sphere.

Oh yes, I gots me a story regarding Suzy, and it’s a doozy.
Awesome… I just channeled my inner Dr. Seuss, and I wasn’t even wearing my magic hat. More on my experience in a bit, but lets get back on track.

I myself have never submitted for CT, so I’m not sure if there’s a clearly defined Prospectus or not regarding the show, but I do know that at worst, this still strikes as an issue of miscommunication.


For his part, Slack seems way more genuine in his remorse that this situation has blown up the way that it has, and he’s definitely been more diplomatic in regards to addressing the issue. When I first chatted him up, he was stunningly complimentary about Falk, despite the heat being thrown his way via the NT forums and related article.


Personally, I think by her actively boycotting the show Suzy blew a huge opportunity to regroup in the way a true professional should easily be able to do, but in the end, a group show is at best, a benevolent dictatorship. There’s only room for one leader, one unified vision. Think of it this way- just because you’ve been invited to the party doesn’t mean that you have a hall pass to act like a boorish jerk.


Honestly. How hard would it have really been for her to just suck it up and take it on the chin? It’s not the end of days just because someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, unless your Ego is so fragile that you constantly need for it to be stoked just to be able to get through the day.

Considering that Falk isn’t known for doing edgy or sexually explicit work, I originally wondered why she created such a reprehensibly dreary attempt at being provocative, devoid of any actual personal connection to the subject material, and with a detachment of style far below her worst work.

Note: I
didn’t say she isn’t talented, I just happen to believe that this particular piece isn’t up to her usual standards, and when viewed against her previous body of work, it’s glaringly obvious. 


I’m also not smacking her down for trying to shake up her style either- branching out is essential for an Artist’s growth, and as a rule, it would be a cold day in Hell before I mocked a fellow Creative for attempting to do so, even if that attempt results in colossal failure.

Oh, would you look at that?
Apparently, it’s freezing in Hades today… and me without a sweater.

However, there’s no time for ghost-skin, as my dear departed Oma would say- I need to explain why I’m breaking my long held rule in regards to this particular Artist, and this particular situation.

When I first heard about this brouhaha [before reading the NT article] I was all ready to put on my old Captain Indignant costume and weigh in on the supposed issue at hand, that being the Censoring of a fellow Artist- HOW DARE THEY?!?!? ARG, ARG, RANT, RANT!!

But… this was Suzy we were talking about, and given the hindsight of my personal experience with her, I decided a little research was in order first.

You know… to be sure I didn’t insert my entire thigh into my mouth the way I did with Kara Roschi?

Granted, while I truly love spouting off about things that vex me, I also try to make sure that I have a leg to stand on when I do start erupting ala Vesuvius style. It does keep things trouble-free, you know. Plus, I still get invited to all the cool parties, and that’s really what counts.

Despite Suzy’s very public assertion that what upset her was Slack’s decision, it’s clearly evident from the NT article he’s not the one that she’s really mad at- no, the wrath of Falk was undoubtedly crafted for the personage of NT’s resident art critic Kathleen Vanesian, in regards to her review of Suzy’s submission the year before.

When it comes to critics, it’s always been my deeply held certainty that most critics are a lot like Ticks- they only feed when they draw blood, so they endeavor to do it as much as possible.

Believe me, I am sympathetic to the receiving of a bad review, since being an Artist myself, I can swear that nothing hurts worse than to have some two-bit critic for a third rate tabloid rake you across the coals for your work. It’s akin to having someone hollow you out like a chocolate Easter Bunny with a razor-studded egg beater, and then proceeding to bite your head off in public, a messy and agonizingly slow, process.

It’s
never happened to me of course, but that’s what I’ve been told. (Rolls eyes.)

So, what terrible, appalling, dreadful, and simply inexcusable thing had Mrs. Vanesian said in reference to Suzy and her work? Well, as you can imagine, it was simply
dripping with the kind of venom and ichors that can only form inside a critic’s misshapen and pustule ridden mouth.

Once again, from the article:
“While Suzanne Meow Meow Falk's The Defenders of Sweet Dreams displays the artist's usual mastery of her medium, I just wish she would venture out of her comfort zone and mix a little acid with the sweetness of her nostalgic still-lifes.”

Um… wait a minute… that fairly innocuous statement was “it”?

Where’s the critical snarkiness, the soul-crushing disdain for someone’s feelings, the arrogant self-righteousness of the archetypal critic? Given NT’s normal battery-acid and hot wax approach in regards to the local Arts Community, this evaluation comes off almost like a hug.

In the grand overview of it all, if this is the worst that an Artists’ critique can get, tie me to the wall and call me a bad girl. For my part, I don’t see anything in that review that would cause me to jump off into the deep end, gnashing my teeth and vowing revenge, but then again, I’ve also never been one of those who’s paid any attention to what the nonentities say about me or my career.

Whenever my work has been criticized, I’ve always looked at the source from which it emanates and at what’s been said, before I decide on a course of action, which usually involves the uttering of several crude jokes at the expense of their mother, and blowing off what’s being alleged.


Don’t misunderstand, I normally loathe critics, as I’ve always felt that they’re legless men who teach classes in running, but this could hardly count as the worst review that Falk has ever gotten, and her reaction to this irrelevant piece of journalistic fluff was just pure egocentricity at it’s best.

One of her fans recently opined to me that in regards to her career, she’s shot herself so many times in the feet, it’s astounding that she’s not walking on her kneecaps. She might be a name, but she could be an industry if she’d just get over herself, was clearly the point they were trying to make.

Yet again, I do get it- you’ve worked hard, and someone you consider a lightweight academic comes along and in your opinion, misses the point. Heck, I’d be annoyed too, but not like this. 

The act of lashing out, burning your bridges and damaging hard-won relationships has never been my first go-to choice when I’ve felt the need to defend what at worst, amounts to a minor slight regarding my artistic abilities.

No matter what, you need to remain professional at all times, even if things go south.
Especially
when you work in a market as small as Phoenix.

We don’t have the luxury of a consistent and thriving Patron base, nor do we have a large pool of professionally run galleries to choose from unless you factor in
Scottsdale, of course. The majority of the spaces that do exist are, by and large, run as hobbyist enterprises, and if you don’t believe me, just see how many are open when it’s not First or Third Friday.

Real businesses have business hours and are based on an economic model to remain both solvent and relevant, and that is so not the PAC’s approach, much to the detriment of our community as a whole. Factor in amateurish tantrums like Falk’s on top of the PAC’s half-ass approach to business, and you can see why the scene (overall) has very few dedicated collectors.


In regards to Kathleen Vanesian and her supposed “influence” on the PAC and it’s stable of talent, I will simply say this: look who she writes for- the Pennysaver with Porn. Hardly worth getting upset about, yet I constantly hear my fellow Creatives bitch about this or that concerning her writing, while usually griping about how they’re being ignored by her.

While I comprehend that all ink is good ink, as my art teachers used to say, it only counts if it’s delivered by someone if truth be told, with serious chops. Personally, I don’t find her controversial, I find her to be something much worse: average. 

The only time I’ve responded to one of her reviews was when she wrote a rather blunt hatchet piece on Fausto Fernandez, and that was only on the NT forums, not within the confines of this blog.

Since I’ve never met her, I cannot possibly give you a sense of what kind of person she is, but writing about Art and stirring the pot is her job, and that she does do pretty well. Whether you agree with what she writes or not, it seems ridiculous to devote any energy defending yourself against someone who can’t affect you or your career one way or another.


I’ve been working here since 1991, have never had any of my shows reviewed by the NT, and yet- I still have a busy career, so obviously she (and they) don’t carry that much weight in deference to buoying or sinking the livelihood of Phoenix based Artists.

In essence, she’s seemingly incapable of damaging the forward momentum of the truly talented, so why in the heck would Falk give a damn about currying the favor of someone who works for a non-entity where the reviews are tucked in-between strip club and car stereo ads?

Easy answer. Ego. No more, no less. As I stated earlier, I’m not saying she isn’t talented… but she’s not exactly the second coming of Michelangelo either, so let’s keep it in perspective, shall we?

Suzy’s own words: so this year, I wanted to be a little campy, to call out some of the misogyny I've seen in other pieces in the show -- I wanted to kick the box a little.”

For my part, I’ve never really considered a circle jerk “campy”, but hey… different strokes for different folks, as they say.

No pun intended.

However… didn’t she originally state that her piece was a reaction to a critique of the show written by
 NT's critic Kathleen Vanesian? If this is true, at what point did she decide that rampant misogyny was a problem she had to finally address? 


In all the years she’s been part of the show, I have never heard her mention once that this was a concern.

While I do agree that a double standard exists in relation to the display of male vs. female nudity, it’s also a fact that Slack rejected another painting by a male artist depicting a female nude- an act which I think sort of negates the accusation of ingrained misogyny, and as far as the homophobic slur, I have to laugh at the ludicrousness behind it.


One could cite the statistic that male nudes traditionally don’t sell as well, and while I’m not sure what the market for paintings of masturbating men is, I’d hazard a guess that it’s a very small specialty niche. The foremost buyers of my female images are gay lawyers, so you do the math on what’s considered socially and artistically acceptable among the paying clientele.


Keep in mind, we’re not talking about a nude marble sculpture, or a study done in charcoal, or even a modern woman’s take on male eroticism via molded body parts. It’s an ugly and listless painting showing a bunch of guys wanking off themselves and the others around them.

At best, it’s a weak attempt by a conventional artist to shake off the sugar coating that her career has accumulated over the years, much in the same vein that America’s sweetheart, Meg Ryan tried to do some years ago when she thought that taking her top off and getting collagen injections in her lips was the means to so called “darker and meatier” film roles.

Not surprisingly, it backfired. People don’t like drastic change.

When you’re well known and recognized for storybook imagery, you can’t take a 180 degree turn into the darker aspects of the human psyche without looking like you’re trying too hard, and when it gets right down to it, CT is all about being seen by the right people, so Falk’s melt down and subsequent boycott of the show could be seen as an unwise move on many levels.

Sure, there’s been a load of free publicity, but will it be of use to her career? I really don’t think so, and I base my opinion on the following:

ONE:

Engaging in a very public fight with a gallery and it’s curator is not the exactly the best approach for ramping up your career when you take into account that several thousand potential Patrons filter through this annual event, and no other venue in this town gives an Artist that much invaluable exposure, so cutting yourself off from such a important source seems like career suicide, especially in a city where the pond of buyers is the size of a puddle.

If I ran a gallery and heard about an Artist engaging in this kind of behavior, I’d be exceptionally wary in my dealings with them, possibly to the point of refusing to deal with them at all.  While personal relationships are important, the bottom line will always be what’s best for business, and asinine ego stroking doesn’t help ease the red ink.

Typically, high maintenance comes with high problems.
And that stalls careers.
TWO:


By helping to foster unsubstantiated charges of misogyny and homophobia at Slack, it defames all those who are involved with this show. Many people work hard (some for months) to make this event come together with no definite reward save for the knowledge that a difficult job was well done.

To add insult to injury, Falk’s juvenile boycotting of the show gives credence to the theory that she considers herself above her peers, something that I, for my part, find highly insulting to those of us who approach our craft with an utmost sense of professionalism and maturity.

More frustrating is that even though many of the people that I talked to thought her behavior was disrespectful and unprofessional, they were still defending her actions, citing her talent as if it were some sort of golden ticket for acting like an ass.


A related aside…

This past week before I even had written anything solid regarding the situation surrounding CT 13, I heard from a few (6) of Suzy’s supporters, most of whom were all up in arms that I would dare even think to besmirch the character of their favorite painter of stuffed rabbits and dragonflies.

One shining gem in particular, a part-time local furniture maker and full-time bald guy who goes by the name of “Mike Mikowski” posted several overly aggro comments on my FB page chastising me for having the audacity to possess my own POV on my own page.


Apparently, I’m supposed to only post pictures of kittens and links to videos of adorable babies laughing… who knew? I guess when he “
friended” me, he only noticed my truly sexy avatar and somehow overlooked the fact that I tend to be rather blunt and speak my mind quite frequently.

I guess in some way that’s my bad, but in my defense, most ignorant cretins don’t come with a warning label affixed to their heads. And Lord knows, he’s got the room to display one dead center.

The following exchange happened after I updated my FB page status to:is working on a new blog regarding Chaos and the Whiner- should be fun!!and serious hilarity immediately followed.

If anything could highlight the hypersensitive and hypocritical vibe that sometime comfortably co-exists within the PAC, this would be it.
Enjoy.
---------------------------------------------------

Mike Mikowski:
let it rest already

WMR: Um, no. somebody need to address her unprofessional behavior, and take her out to the metaphorical woodshed. Behavior like this hurts us all, and makes promoting the good twice as difficult. She asked for the attention, I’m going to see she gets it.

This isn’t the first time she's taken to the web to pick a fight while hiding behind others, nor will it be the last, I'm afraid. Being part of this community doesn't mean shutting up and condoning behavior that would make a six year old look like a jackass- having talent isn't a hall pass for unprofessional and childish reactions to what at best- amounts to a miscommunication.

Thanks for stating your opinion, I do respect it, but I will be addressing this regardless.

WMR: Also I might ask: why do we put up with her crap in the first place? Would you appreciate having a show you were involved with painted with baseless charges?

I'd think not.


And its high time someone called her out on her drama. If I get heat for it- great. At least everyone will know where I stand, and that’s okay so far as I’m concerned. I’m part of the river in this town, so I’m allowed to have an opinion, and whether I address it publicly or privately is my business, I think.

Mike Mikowski: That's your opinion. When did you suddenly get the power to play behavior police? Far as I can tell, this doesn't even have anything to do with you. I think, just a guess, this will probably not work out well for you.

[You’re right. Because we all know how my feud with New Times just destroyed my reputation and career, so obviously I have a lot to fear from Mistress Meow Mix and her kibble crusaders .]

WMR: Wow. A person I hardly know being a hypocrite and telling me what to do. If you have such an issue with little old me, come say it to my face when I'm out and about. Odds are you won't, but I'm a betting man. I don't fear the Falk fan base either, so have at it.

I can also assume you condone her public outburst? Because that's how a mid career artist should handle her business, right? IN PUBLIC and by leveling slurs at the space, curator, and participating artists by association?

Mike Mikowski: wow, so much hate and anger, maybe a little bit of envy.  
I for one don't need that shit on my facebook page.

WMR: Last time I checked, this was my page and my opinion rules here. I noticed you didn’t answer the question posed, but you got an answer anyway. I don’t envy anyone, I’m too busy working my side of the road, and I don’t need my pals to fight for me.

To answer your "who made me the Behavior Police?" I say this: the same people that told you that you could be rude in my yard. My opinion is my own, and you're allowed to disagree, but I'll be damned if someone I've never met talks to me as if we're best friends.


Unfriend me? Oh dear God no! Who ever would I talk to?

Oh, that's right- my actual friends.

Best energies- you need them way more than
I.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

God, I just love truly
civilized debate, don’t you? I’d also like to point out that as of this writing, he still hasn’t un-friended me, nor has he answered me back, so I guess we’re still really the bestest of buddies… for now, anyway.

And even though I stated that I respected his difference of opinion, he still plowed ahead and acted like a three year old- I was honestly waiting for him to say “I’m rubber, you’re glue, blah, blah, blah.” But this is the kind of stance that I’ve been running into when this topic comes up for discussion- it’s either complete antagonism or absolute avoidance.

Pretending that there is no problem or getting pissed off because someone is able to prove that there is, runs totally counterproductive to common sense. One of her supporters who emailed me claimed (very nicely) that she was embarrassed by the whole thing and just wanted it swept under the rug, and never wanted her lash-out to blow up the way that it did.

Fair enough. We all make mistakes- even I will freely admit that, and I’m usually intractable when it comes to letting improper behavior and it’s consequences slide. Honestly, I did think of going easy and letting the whole thing fade off after reading their Email, but you know me, I just gotta keep digging when I think I’m on to something.

And as usual, when you’re looking for inconsistencies, you’ll find them. If Falk’s loyalist is to be believed, Suzy never wanted this to happen.

So… posting her complaint on the Internet, deliberately blocking Randy, answering the numerous individual queries on her FB page personally, granting an interview and providing an image to New Times for publication, posting links to the NT article on her Tumblr page, posting a mocking meme of Randy on the same site, and closing the article with a sales pitch (Falk says that the piece is currently hanging in her studio, that interested buyers can seek her out personally) was something she never wanted to happen.
 

That’s an awful lot of premeditated steps for an accident, don’t ya think?

No, the more you pick this apart, it starts to look less likely that Suzy was truly ticked off at Slack’s curatorial decision, and seemingly more that she wanted to enact her bitch-slap using CT 13 as her personal conduit and she got blocked from doing so- without any deliberate malice on his part, I tend to believe.

Some free advice for Ms. Falk. If you have an issue with anyone who works at the New Times, just do what I did- make an appointment, show up with free cookies, and talk logically. They just hate that.

TRUST ME ON THIS.

And if you manage to hit all the right notes, you may also have the pleasure of being escorted out of the building by a fifty year old woman who will sing a song she wrote especially for you, while she dances ala Fosse style. 


That alone is worth the trip, and until you’ve seen Amy Silverman in full performance mode, you have no concept of what talent really isn’t.

I’ve always believed that if you have a score to settle, you take it to the source of the problem- you don’t subcontract the hit, nor do you use other people’s platforms to exact your revenge, especially when the so called slight you’re avenging isn’t worth getting upset about in the first place.

In my opinion, this are a few lessons here that we all can learn from:

- Communication is key, learn how to do it clearly and maturely.
- Rejection is always a possibility. Not everyone will love you or your work. Accept it.
- Settle PROFESSIONAL disputes in a professional manner. The Internet is not your Mommy.

In other words: act like the adult you claim to be.

Gah. I’m done with this, I think. But before I go, I did promise you a story regarding Ms. Falk’s inherent unbalance, and I am a man of my word, so I will end our time together with this charming little tale from a few years back.

My day gig is framing art for many of the Valley’s top artists, galleries and interior designers out in the wilds of Scottsdale- in fact, Suzy’s mom is actually one of my shop’s past clients, as is Suzy’s current employer, The Scottsdale Artists School.

Suzy had a group show and needed to get a painting re-stretched and framed in time, and I offered to do it as a professional courtesy. So all goes well in that arena, and my GF Ashley and I wind up attending the show, mainly to see Matt Dickson’s work, of which I’m a big fan of.


During the show, we get to meet her then boyfriend, who overall- seemed like a nice cat. It was very nice, except for the fact that she came off as a little high strung about the vibe of the show. Because we live in the age of social media, both Ashley and I received FB friend requests from both of them.


I accepted for business reasons- since Suzy is one of the known Artists in town, I thought it would be good to at least be on a colleague to colleague level with her, and because of that, Ashley agreed to accept even though she didn’t know either of them.


And really neither did I, to be quite honest. This was strictly a business decision. At this time, I had maybe accumulated half an hours worth of actual conservation with her, and that over the last five years. So it’s not like we’ve ever been real friends, you know?


So flash forward a few weeks, and it comes to light that the boyfriend and Suzy had broken up, over a situation I will not divulge here, and Suzy apparently took it very hard. Once again, she turned to FaceBook to advertise what should have been a private matter.


She started posting continual and exponentially disturbing status updates ranging from the threatening to the bizarre, where she railed violently one moment and was contrite the next.

All in all, some truly insane public behavior, culminating in the proclamation of an ultimatum. To paraphrase: “It’s either him or me.” for my girlfriend who didn’t know either of them, and found Suzy’s behavior highly disquieting, it was an easy choice.

Un-friend both of them.

But it wasn’t that simple, as we both found out. Within 72 hours, Suzy discovered the fact that Ashley had dropped her, and the messages began… to me, strangely enough. Starting with a tone of almost frantic whininess, she wanted to know why “Ash” had done such a cruel and heartless thing.
 

[Perhaps it’s because her name is “Ashley”, not “Ash”- but I seriously doubt that’s the reason.]

Surprisingly, I am not my GF’s keeper nor am I her mouthpiece, and I told Suzy so. Now, most rational people would have taken that as a hint, but not our Suzy. 

The messages intensified, bordering on the accusatory that I didn’t understand her pain, to which I replied with how my ex-fianc√© and I had broken up under almost the exact same circumstances, and advised her not to disburse energy being angry over something she could not control or change.
 

Did I mention that I have a God given talent for hitting the “ crazy as fuck” button in people? Good, because that info will come in real handy in about a minute or so.

The next message that I received (and the last one I actually read) had Suzy comparing herself to a blind, mewling kitten who was huddled in the corner, defenseless against the world. 


Now, I don’t want to seem callous here, but give me a break.

I’m not a grief counselor, nor were my GF and I her friends. And thanks to FB, she already had access to group therapy, albeit an unwilling one. When she realized that Ashley wasn’t going to get back to her, she then dropped me and blocked both of us.

Once again, we breathed a sigh of relief thinking the drama was over, but just like a bad 80’s horror flick involving summer camps and teenagers, there was one more surprise hiding in the closet. There followed two phone calls, neither of which I answered, instead I pushed them to my voice mail, so I could listen to them later.

When I did, they could be charitably described as rambling, at best. We deleted the messages and finally Suzy, from our lives. Later after I had relayed this story to a few of my friends, I discovered that some of them had gone through an oddly similar experience, the implication that this is par for the course in her relationships with people who don’t want to buy what she’s selling.

And with that, we come full circle, and to the end of our tale. 

Sadly, History does tend to repeat itself, and like most things comprised of pure bubblegum, I’m sure she’ll be stuck underfoot again real soon. Only time will tell whether she learns anything from this, but I definitely have.
 
I’ve learned that when it comes to being mature, maybe I shouldn’t expect talent and name recognition to be the yardstick.
 

“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” – Denis Waitley


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Consortium of Mediocrity (An Army of None.)



When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.- Napoleon Bonaparte

Hello Blogiteers!
How are we today? Better than average, I hope.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being average, mind you- it’s just that if given a choice, why would you be? Nothing is more boring than being just like everybody else, and while vanilla may be the most popular flavor in the world, it’s also the least exciting.

Try it next to Rocky Road just once, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I, for one, am not a vanilla kind of guy, nor do I ever want to be. But for some people, being less than vanilla seems to be their ultimate life goal, and wherein we find our topic for today.

I’m not talking about Hipsters, whom I was hating long before it was cool- no, I’m referencing the subject of Mediocrity, a quality that
America seems to have gleefully embraced wholeheartedly lately. From what we consider literature  to our movies to our Politics, it seems we just can’t get enough of half-ass and the half-witted.

So, is it really a shock when our local Arts organizations are any less sub standard?
Hardly.

In the past, I’ve touched on organized Mediocrity (First Friday, The Phoenix New Times) practitioners of Mediocrity (Peter Bugg, Claire Lawton, Amy Silverman) but this time around I’m aiming at the highest pinnacle of the lowest form of thin-skinned narcissism, that being self-congratulatory Mediocrity, personified as of late in the guise of one Mrs. Elena Thornton.


So who is she, and what’s the story as to why am I feeling the need to issue a bitch-slap?


Well, in the short version, she’s the Artbitch’s newest scratching post, and in the long version she oversees The
Arizona Consortium of the Arts Charity, whose Mission statement is to do this:

Nurture an inspirational environment for individuals to self express through the Arts, and to develop their creative abilities.”


That’s a noble goal, albeit one that’s worded really badly.
Six words for Elena: Hire. A. Copy. Writer. Like. Now.

In principle, I’m all for fostering growth in the Arts, but not when it’s being championed by fluffy lightweights such as Elena, who seemingly thinks that everyone should act as if they’re in UP with People, no matter what the reality of the situation is. Having a positive attitude is great, but not when it gets in the way of making rational decisions.

As usual, I’ll have to explain, so as not to make you think I’m going after a charitable organization, ala half-cocked. Even I have boundaries, despite my reputation for crushing bluntness. Granted, most of those boundary lines have been forcibly instituted by the Court system, but… they are there.

Trust Me. I’m an Artist.
 Would I lie to you?

Several months ago, I was introduced to Elena, while attending an event where the ACOTA was presenting a “show”
  of it’s accumulated collection of works by local Artists. To call it truly awful would be an understatement of biblical proportion, and this is coming from someone who’s eyesight has literally survived hundreds of First Fridays.

Now, if I were forced to say something nice about her substandard effort,
 the only straightforward compliment I could grant regarding this train-wreck is that it was hung well, but that’s only because she had nothing to do with that part of the process.

Possessing all the charm and ability of a High School Art Fair, it also managed to have absolutely no connection with where it was being displayed- that being the
Arizona Historical Society, located at Papago Park.

To give you some context on the depth of my dislike, I’d sit through a Peter Bugg retrospective, TWICE, before I’d ever go see crap like that again.

Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that I’ll never be faced with the threat of having to do either, mainly since  her wannabe Arts organization seems to have less support than Sherriff Joe at a La Raza meeting, and Bugg’s chances of having an esteemed retrospective are about as likely as mine becoming the star forward for the Redwings.

Sorry. That was a little harsh, I think.

On second thought, my chances of playing for the Redwings are actually pretty good overall, and Bugg might deserve a retrospective, if only to serve as a practical example of what unbridled pretentiousness in the Arts truly looks like.

My sincerest and deepest apologies all around.

Back to the grind.

Several little artsy birds have informed me that the only reason this show was approved to occupy a free space at the Society was because it was pitched as pertaining directly to the Museum’s Mission Statement, which is listed as such:


“The Arizona Historical Society is a state agency whose mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the history of Arizona, the West, and northern Mexico as it pertains to Arizona.”


Keeping that in mind, I have no idea as to what low quality art depicting Egyptian Pyramids, and Russian Onion Domes has to do with AZ, but hey… I tend to use actual logic in my day to day life, so maybe that’s what has been keeping me from seeing the deeper meaning that was inherent there.

To be fair, there
were two or three pieces that were of good quality, but the odds are fairly strong that those were solitary glitches in her collection of mediocrity amber. But that’s not the reason I’m annoyed with her- far from it.

Standards are meaningless if you have nothing (or no one) that can serve as a ready-made foil to deftly illustrate your point. Hacks and wannabes have always infected the Arts, and our little microcosm of pointless endeavor is no exception.

However, despite my loathing of said artistic poseurs, I’d be hard-pressed to admit that they aren’t indispensable to the cause, and if I were to draw an equivalent parallel, I would cast them in the analogous role of a tick to a dog.

Bothersome- but easily dealt with once discovered. Unfortunately for the scene, our dog is covered by scores of these artsy parasites, and no matter how tough our mangy little mutt may be, eventually he’s gonna drop dead from blood loss, if not Lyme disease.

I admire most of the people who attempt to compel change in the PHX Art Scene, but there are way too many schmucks running amuck, doing more harm then good, and at the end of the day, they accomplish absolutely nothing of benefit.

Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not of the mind-set that my humbly acidic screeds are changing the world, but if every now and then, they facilitate a dialogue that gets the art-peeps talking about the future of this scene, then that’s nothing but good, in my opinion.

Debate. It moves a civil society forward, and it is absolutely vital to the alteration of a problem, since no revolution was ever started by people who were happy about their situation.


Irritatingly, one of the more maddening things about working in PHX as a Creative is the thin-skinned attitude that persists within- if I had a nickel for every time I saw a fellow “Artist” get his or her nose bent out of joint over a perceived slight, I could have bought that evil volcano lair complete with matching Death Ray and retired years ago.

[Granted, I may be directly responsible for a majority of those slights, but I digress.]


For the record, stating a
fact doesn’t make you insufferably rude, it means you’re honest, and you’d think that a rational person would appreciate that. But seemingly, it’s considered bad form if you call attention to an issue that someone else would rather ignore, and here is where our tale begins.

Just like Betty White, I’m on the FaceBook, keeping up to date with what’s going on in regards to the Arts community, and whether you’re a fan or not of Social Media, you’d still have to admit it’s an excellent way to disseminate information, and call attention to certain problems that need fixing.


Going Viral” is how the cool kids put it, I’ve been informed.

Because of the fact that the web is mostly an economical resource, it’s been utilized for both propaganda and educational platforms, porn being somewhere in between, depending on your needs. I of course, never look at the naughty stuff myself, but I’ve been told it’s very
exciting.

(Rolls eyes.)

The downside to the torrent of all this data is that everybody now thinks they’re a Rhodes Scholar when it comes to talking about the issues of the day. The Web provides a haven for the sort of people who, in the past, were relegated to shouting on street corners or picking fights in bars when you disagreed with them.

These days, they’re just given jobs on FOX News and asked to be Vice President.

There’s nothing quite so infuriating than having a battle of wits with an obviously unarmed opponent who believes that they’re the ones who are winning.

Facts are NOT supposed to be open to erroneous and random interpretation, that’s why they’re called
facts, not: wow, I think I may be on to something here with this pile of collected data .  

As soon as something is proven, it’s no longer a theory, nor a hypothesis- it’s a concrete block of Truth hung around your neck. Which, when you think about it… could come in real handy for solving a wide range of problems within our community.
Nah. I’m still way to cute to go to prison, so I’ll just move on, I think.

But there’s the rub- we really don’t want to hear the Truth, we want to be told a version of it that we like, preferably one that’s all light and fluffy. It’s never worked that way with me, and with God as my witness- I’d rather take the pill without the sugar coating any day.

When it comes to helping the Arts community, if you’re paying no heed to what’s happening right before your eyes, then you’re not blazing a path- you’re creating a roadblock for the rest of us. If you really want to help, then either accept the veracity of what is, before you embrace what could be.

What can I say… I’m a realist.

But as to my current fray, it all started innocently enough, as most of these things do. I was cruising through the ol’ Internet wasteland, answering my E-mail and arbitrary FB messages, commenting on friend’s status updates, and downloading random photos of cats doing adorable things, when I came across the following link posted on the FB page of the ACOTA.

[Link: http://www.jetsetextra.com/the-extra/mary-anne-been/arizona-an-oasis-of-art-and-culture.html]


At this point, I’d like to point out a few issues I was having so you can understand the context.

In my opinion, just re-posting links is not what I consider being an active supporter of the Arts- it just proves that you can hit the “Share” button, and that your less than brilliant plan for publicizing the local Arts community is based on an over-optimistic view that your collective links are far more interesting than anything that George Takei has posted that hour.

Being a fan of his page and witticisms, I can tell you that right off the bat- you’re already screwed.
 

Need examples of people doing good things for the community?

Look at Hugo Medina, Stacey Champion, Aaron Johnson, Kara Roschi and Shannon Youso for a start. That kind of ego-less contribution is exactly what this town needs, and it’s way overdue, no matter how you look at it.
 

So pick a path, get off your ass and do something useful already.

On the subject of Arizona being an “oasis of art and culture”, as this article claimed, if this is actually true, then Detroit must be safer than a bank vault. This vile brand of journo-fluff is exactly what I hate to read in regards to promoting the Arts, especially in a scene that needs as much exposure as it can get.

Let’s assume that someone actually used this so-called article as a point of reference- they might logically presuppose that the only thing that PHX offers up as cultural highlights are a  few places to eat, two museums, one of which bleeds staff like an open wound and isn’t even accredited- and a place where  you can buy... Olive Oil.

Yep… that’s some deep and Artsy roots there, let me tell you. Nothing says “culture” like a T-shirt and some salad dressing. Seriously… when did Olive Oil become a tourist attraction?

Whiskey? I understand that… but salad dressing?
Not so much.

Small wonder why we’re becoming the go-to punch line for America and lately- the world.

With no due respect, if I was going to summarize what is worth seeing in PHX, I sure as heck wouldn’t mention places that already have an in-house publicity department- they don’t really need the additional PR, and they have a staff working 24/7 on their behalf.


The PAS doesn’t have that, and we’re the ones who need it the most.

It’s the Artists that need the hand up, and this article failed miserably in that regard, due to it’s puzzling omission of the entire downtown scene- something that I noted on ACOTA’s FB page in the form of a comment.

Now, I wasn’t vulgar or threatening, nor was I flippant either. I plainly stated that this article was badly written, the end result being that PHX is widely considered to be a non-entity in the Art world due to incomplete coverage like this, and suggested that perhaps posting it was not a great idea.
 

Big mistake on my part, apparently.

Within the hour, I noticed my comment had been taken down, a move which prompted me to post again, noting that if they didn’t want comments, perhaps they shouldn’t have posted it in the first place. I’m of the mind that if you post it on your wall, then that must be something you believe in.

For instance, I don’t repost any of the Libertarian / Conspiracy / Game Links that get sent my way, because I find them annoying. However, if you see something posted on my wall, that’s a pretty good indicator that I stand behind it 100%, and am willing to defend it, if necessary.

 
After my little bon mot was taken down, I received the following FB Message from Elena:

“Michael, before you write comments on our all volunteer organization's wall - please learn about us. At Arizona Consortium for the Arts - we are all volunteers. we provide FREE arts and cultural events for our communities. we provide venues/programs and activities to give voice and visibility and opportunities to artists in all genres. I do not know why you are posting negative comments on our wall. all we did was repost an article that was posted by another arts org - Mesa Arts Center. Please direct your comments to people who write articles that you do not like... if you are not happy what they write - please start writing your own - through blogs, etc... help us - volunteers help support arts and cultures!!! your disappointing comments upset our volunteers who wrote to me and alerted me about your negative comments...our volunteers work very hard to help promote arts and cultures and help artists spanning all disciplines! thank you”
 

I’m sure some of you have already noticed a few things about this message. For those of you who haven’t, let me point them out to you- trust me, it’s gonna be fun.

ONE:

My name is “Wayne”, not “Michael”, not “Wayne (hyphen) Michael”, just Wayne. If you want to really kiss up, just call me “His Awesomeness, the Incredibly Bitchin’ Funk God Wayne Michael Reich” and we’ll get along just fine. As a suggestion, I would recommend that if you want to send me a personal message in the future, whether it be happy or not- that you do a little research and get my name right before you attempt to talk down to me or deride my opinion.

After all, I got your name, and I got your number- the least you can do is return the favor.


TWO:


Until I met Elena, I had never heard of her organization, and after a quick survey of my artsy peeps within the PAS, neither had anyone else, apparently. Heck, their FB page only has 626 “likes”, so they’re hardly a powerhouse of change for the community. especially when you consider that a FB page dedicated to pickles has more friends than her.


[Pickle Page Link:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Can-this-Pickle-get-more-fans-than-Twilight/338654499096?ref=ts ]
 

Way to use the available tools. You’re an inspiration to dial-up users everywhere.

THREE:


You’re all volunteers.
Whoopity fricking doo.

So what?

Its not about how many hours you work, or who you work for, or even if you do it for free- it’s about how effective you are getting your point across and heightening awareness. Most of the people I’ve talked to who’ve actually heard of Elena regard the ACOTA as a joke at best, and considering the quality of the events they’ve been putting together, I’d say they’re being charitable at best.


In reference to my earlier comment about roadblocks, one of the giant spanners in the works are the wannabes such as this, who, because they don’t have the chops to be Artists, decide that they’re going to be Art supporters. They go to all the events, name drop at every opportunity, and pat themselves on the back for doing absolutely nothing of worth.


For the record, scarfing down free cookies, drinking multiple glasses of wine, and being pretentious while chatting non-stop like a magpie, is not a talent, nor is it noble. It is however, exasperatingly annoying, and in the case of Elena, I’ve been informed that she makes my well-honed arrogance look like child’s play.


On second thought, that IS an impressive skill set… so maybe I’ll just call this one a draw.


FOUR:


To quote: “
your disappointing comments upset our volunteers who wrote to me and alerted me about your negative comments...

I’m terribly sorry. If I had known I was dealing with a bunch of impotent thin-skinned twits, I would have been much more blunt. Not because I’m a jerk, but because it’s just so much fun to screw with somebody so uptight. God forbid that someone has a different (albeit accurate) opinion than yours.

Don’t like my opinion? Then try finding out why I believe it, rather than hiding under the covers- you might actually learn something, and maybe so will I, if your argument is persuasive.


As a side note, does anyone else think that it’s really strange that her loyal and trusted volunteers had to E-mail their concerns about what I had posted?

Can’t the ACOTA afford a phone, or even two cans connected by a string? Maybe her “volunteers” are like Snuffleupagus- they can only be seen when no mature adults are around.

Getting back on track, if this is the attitude they display when negotiating with someone to provide free space (yet again) to host one of their dreadful train wrecks that they call a show, it’s no wonder this group doesn’t have a permanent space or a measurable presence in the local arts community.
But more than that, it serves as a perfect example of why certain “organizations” in this town are seemingly so ineffective at making a dent in our current situation of malaise. You can’t make changes that are necessary unless you’re effective with your message, and sticking your head in the sand isn’t the best way to achieve that.

And not to come off as a grammar snob or anything, but damn- that sentence structure is just painful, and I simply have to ask this question: were my comments disappointing or negative?

Cause Lord knows, I’ve never been both.

FIVE:

To quote yet again:if you are not happy what they write - please start writing your own - through blogs, etc... help us - volunteers help support arts and cultures!!!"

This suggestion is just thick beyond belief for one simple fact: I MET HER, WE THEN EXCHANGED BUSINESS CARDS, AND WE TALKED FOR NEARLY TWENTY MINUTES ABOUT THIS EXACT SAME THING.

Ego aside, most people don’t fail to remember talking to me- the word “intense” comes to mind, and it’s rare that anyone I’ve chatted with completely blanks me out. That’s not pride, that’s just the sad Truth.

With Ego full on, I did mention what I do, what I write, and the title of my little screed world as well- it’s something that usually sticks with most intelligent mammals, but not with her.

So, being the nice guy that I am, I decided to retort and wrote the following response:
 

“Mrs. Thornton-

Actually my name is Wayne, so I can see that paying attention is not your strong suit. If you can't handle different points of view, then don't post.

And BTW?
Posting fluff is not helping anyone within our struggling community, either.

In regards to your message, I HAVE been writing about the Art scene for the last two years or so, and am both fairly well known and somewhat infamous for my skewering of the pretentious and those devoid of talent within the PHX Arts Community.

If I were to be honest, I was totally stumped as to what to write about this month.

But now, with no small thanks to you, I now have something worthy to share with my readers, and the best part is that it was your suggestion that inspired my upcoming tale of your laughable reaction to my post.

The fact that you and your apparently thin-skinned volunteers reacted with such overkill to the legitimate question I posed only underscores why you're an all volunteer organization.

Mature professionals aren't afraid of negativity, nor are they afraid to tackle such issues head on, as this usually leads to solutions which are beneficial to all.

It's truly a shame you lack such essential skills, but considering the high school quality of the "shows" I've seen come out of your organization, it's really not that much of a surprise either.

So... as to my soon to be published blog about y'all, feel free to check out previous samples of my past screeds at: http://www.WayneMichaelReich.Blogspot.com to see just how "negative" I can really be when I give it my best college try.

Respectfully,
Wayne Michael Reich

PS: If all goes well, your blog should be up within a week or so. Don't thank me, it's the least I can do for such a dedicated amateur.”

See? I can be nice. Downright friendly. The Milk of Human Kindness, as it were.

Consequently, there I was, sitting at home, waiting for a response of some sort. Perhaps it would be a half apology, or more likely- a “why don’t you go f**k yourself” which is usually the norm where I’m involved. I received neither. Instead, I was blocked on FaceBook like a former BFF.

Apparently, she can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

No big surprise there, as I correctly called her out for being a thin-skinned candy-ass, but that still isn’t the reason I’m ticked off at her, shockingly enough. I like a good old fashioned bare knuckled kind of fight, whether it’s verbal or physical, and I detest anyone who organizes said fight and then flees like a craven.

Walks like a duck, talks like a duck, arranges art shows like a duck.
Must be a thin-skinned duck.


Now after that juvenile lack of response, I figured I was done with this ineffectual dingbat, filing her away under “small annoyances”. I wasn’t even thinking of writing anything about her impotent arts group to be honest, as she really wasn’t worth my time or interest.

In fact- this blog should have been about critics and the ongoing Manifesto project.
So, what derailed that particular screed, you ask?

Well… she attempted to blindside me by using my friends, and that’s never smart. But it is the act of a coward, and it is something that is guaranteed to get my attention. You mess with my friends or those few I consider family, and I will make you reconsider the wisdom of your actions, as sure as the day is long- count on it.

It seems that after I sent my affable little message, Elena took it upon herself via the old FaceBook to contact a fellow Artist and personal friend, to “warn” them about my supposed lack of amiability.  

A perplexing act that she tried to repeat [unsuccessfully] amongst other colleagues affiliated with me, I might add. Now, if this scuttlebutt turns out to be accurate, then she’s not only just ineffectual as an Arts advocate, she’s also someone who’s backbone is evidently constructed from Velveeta.

Entertainingly, they had no idea who she was [see: that whole “ineffectual twit” thing] and because they’re the non-confrontational type, wide berth was given in relation to her request of their direct involvement in dealing with yours truly. Predictably, her tween approach to problem solving just backfired by confusing and annoying them.

Did she seriously expect them to jump in on her side?

News flash Elena: my friends know better than to get involved with my personal battles, and as the old Adam Ant song goes: “All those who get to know me, become admirers or my enemies.”

There really is no gray in my life in that regard, and I like it. Keeps the Christmas card list easy to manage, cuts down on those pesky wedding invites, and it does make organizing a dinner party a breeze.


So to sum up- she starts a fight, runs away from said fight, blocks any attempt to debate, and then in a spineless and uncalled for action- attempts to create a rift between me and my friends.

I’ve always said that if anyone has an issue with me, real or imagined- they can always step up.

Don’t sit in the dark writing anonymous E-mails, don’t talk behind my back while I’m in the room, just walk up and bring it to Daddy. You’d be amazed by how level headed I am, if only you have the stones to show up in person and state your case.

Nevertheless- whatever you do, don’t involve my friends in your personal and somewhat pathetic cowardice, because I will metaphorically smoke you where you stand without thinking twice.
 

So these are your options: stand your ground and face me like the adult you claim to be, or I’ll drag you symbolically out into the light like the coward I know you are. It’s that simple.

Overall, I find the pitiable Mrs. Thornton to be more of an opportune example of the stereotypical amateur who screws up the scene with their ineffectual idiocy, and less the dreaded adversary that hides under my bed. After all, I’ve watched with some bemusement as what she considers her best shot bounced off, and it’s fairly clear that she “shoots” as well as she advocates for the Arts.

But then again, should we expect anything less from a wannabe?
I think we already know the answer, but she’s not the one to give it to us.

However, I know who can. Despite Mrs. Thornton’s petulant sniping, I’d like to point out that the true professionals are already putting thoughts into action, while she and her amateur volunteers simply disappoint.

That’s the true negativity.


There are certain things in which mediocrity is not to be endured, such as poetry, music, painting, public speaking.” – Jean de la Bruyere

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Revolution May Not Be Televised (but you can still wear your Che hat.)


“A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Hello Blogiteers!

I have been one busy little Artbitch, let me tell you- the past three months have been simply abuzz with frenetic and somewhat random activity, running the gamut from moving my work-space to a location closer to my Lair of Snarkitude (IE: five minutes from my house) while simultaneously carving out rehearsal time for my gig hosting FFNL at Bragg’s Pie Factory way back in May.

That’s on top of keeping up with my artistic commissions, planning my newest show for its debut in January, working my day gig framing for art galleries,  along with feeding my five book a week reading habit.

[That would be big thick books with no pictures, and a whole lotta words. Seriously… I think I may have a real problem on my hands.]

Doing the FFNL gig was a blast- I had a great time, enjoyed working with the cast, and in a display of   genuine friendship, even invited NT’s Mangling Editorzilla Amy Silverman to the show. Naturally, Amy had more important things to do, like not publishing that series of articles she had pledged to write that praised PHX, so she couldn’t attend, and that was a shame… because I apologized to both her and NT for my stance against them.

As has often been noted, I am the milk of human kindness, so what did I say exactly? Well… here’s my original self-written script, and as you will soon come to realize, it just drips with warmth and sincerity:

“Good evening! I am your host, Wayne Michael Reich- welcome to FFNL, the comedy sketch show that dispels the myth that stoners have no work ethic.

Now some of you may recognize me from the PHX art scene, or possibly from the 2008 independent documentary “Hi My name is Ryan”, where I was cast against type as the villain,  but lately, more people seem to be associating me with my monthly blog, known as “Artbitch”- where I offer sweet, gentle, and ultimately kind, advice to those well… less intelligent and /or talented.

Speaking of which, in the past- the Phoenix New Times has slammed me for being as they see it- a tad arrogant and somewhat egotistical  To be honest, being called arrogant by the PNT is sort of like Charlie Sheen telling you that you’re banging way too many strippers.

.But, I am truly regretful, because after years of bad mouthing PHX, the PNT has started to actually cover what happens in downtown… granted, they didn’t do this until after I began treating them in my blog like one of Chris Brown’s girlfriends, but I digress.

In fact, last month- they sponsored a truly magical evening dedicated to showcasing PHX’s’ unique Culture and it’s Artists, hosting their event in the most logical place that one might think of for celebrating all things Phoenician… Scottsdale.

 In their defense however, it’s not like there’s an art space in all of Downtown that has the ability to hold 200 people, right?

Now, as much as you might think I should, I’m not going to mock this event which they glibly named Artopia, and I’ll explain why- first: in a true Artopia, there would be no PNT, and second- I have to call it as I see it- sure, it boasted four entertainers, a few buffet tables, and a DJ, but with all due respect, where I come from, that’s not really an art event…

That’s a bat mitzvah without a budget.

But no matter- tonight is all about righting my wrongs, so let me start by apologizing directly to the paper itself. Previously, I’ve labeled the PNT the Pennysaver with Porn, and that was just short-sighted on my part.

Granted, I may have implied that overall, their cultural reporting lacks a few minor journalistic details like integrity, competence and truth- but I’m not suggesting that they lie….

 I’m outright stating that they just make shit up.

But to cast their unique quirk in a positive light, their lies are usually way more entertaining than the majority of stories that they “write”. Plus, there’s also many crucial differences between the PNT and porn-

for instance, most people aren’t truly embarrassed to leave Porn just laying around on their coffee table where anyone could see it, and the PNT does serve as an invaluable resource –

if I ever need to know where I can get a lap-dance and a happy ending massage, while simultaneously having a car stereo installed, it’s obvious who I would turn to, that’s right…

 the only local newspaper you can read with one hand.

But my sincere regret wouldn’t be complete without also apologizing to the PNT’s mangling editor (sorry, that’s managing editor) one Mrs Amy Silverman.

Now, to be honest, our relationship is a bit strained, and I think I might be at fault… somewhat.

By way of example, I once may have said that she owned stock in a Dalmatian farm…. just so she’d have puppies on hand to eat, and I was wrong to say that.

Turns out… Amy’s really a cat person. Who knew?

I’d also like to apologize for poking fun at her use of the Twilight novels as her personal fashion guide.

 In retrospect, dressing like a love struck tween and wearing sparkly sneakers is a bold move for a woman pushing fifty who isn’t a drunken eccentric, or the owner of a lesbian bar .

And there’s also the matter of my pet nickname  for her, that being Editorzilla, which is of course- an obvious reference to the Japanese Sea Monster, Godzilla.

Once again, I was wrong. There are many crucial differences between Amy and Godzilla. 

For instance: one is a scaly, coldblooded, fire breathing monster from the darkest depths who, when it makes landfall, destroys the local community- and the other… is Godzilla

 So once again- my deepest apologies for the unflattering comparison.”
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now my detractors say that I can’t be nice, and right here’s concrete proof that I’m just a big softie at heart. But as the old adage goes, there ain’t no rest for the wicked, so a well-earned siesta will just have to be put on a back burner until my need for rest outweighs my need to network.

In other words: never.


Anyone who knows me well also understands how much I like to work the floor, and boy oh boy, have I been working it- popping up everywhere in the manner of an artsy whack-a-mole on crack, meeting old friends, making new ones, and being both gladdened and saddened by what I’ve been observing within the Arts community.

The stuff that makes me sad is the usual laundry list of complaints, all of which have already been covered in my previous blogs ad nausea, and therefore won’t be re-addressed here- except to say that certain Galleries and their so-called “Artists” really just need to be taken behind their ol’ meth sheds and ruthlessly given a double tap to the face so that we can all just start with a fresh slate and a clean conscience.

We all know who you are, and trust the Artbitch- it’s WAY overdue, you impotent candy-asses. 

Now, for the stuff that makes me glad, it’s really more about people finally waking up and paying attention to what I’ve been screaming about for a while now. Granted, the majority of these people still aren’t doing anything about it yet, but at least it’s a topic of discussion, and that’s a start.

But thanks to the efforts of fellow Artists Luis Gutierrez and Glen Allen, there’s also some progress on increasing the financial stability of the scene, thereby escalating the possibility of our local Artists making a decent living for a change.

I’ll explain.

Its time to raise the standards in the PAS (PHX Art Scene) and in my humble opinion, its been a long time a-coming. As Andy Warhol once stated:

"To be successful as an artist, you have to have your work shown by a good gallery for the same reason, say, that Dior never sold his originals from a counter in Woolworth's.

It's a matter of marketing, among other things. If a guy has, say, a few thousand dollars to spend on a painting . . .


He wants to buy something that's going to go up and up in value, and the only way that can happen is with a good gallery, one that looks out for the artist, promotes him, and sees to it that his work is shown in the right way to the right people.


Because if the artist were to fade away, so would this guy's investment ... No matter how good you are, if you are not promoted right, you won't be one of those remembered names."

Currently, there’s a few of us drafting a “manifesto” of sorts- a call to action, as it were. Essentially, it’s a list of minimum standards for both the Artists and the Galleries to follow in regards to the way they’ll conduct business in the future.

Yes, I said “
business”.

Whether you like it or not, the other side of creative endeavor is the marketing of said creations, and its about time we all just suck it up and accept that. If you’re one of those Creatives who thinks money is the root of all evil, this isn’t going to be the faction for you, and that’s okay.

It’s no longer Amateur Night.

One thing the PAS has consistently lacked is professionalism, and this Manifesto seeks to rectify that.  The professionals are in the house, so it is time to step up your game and get with the program. The standards we’d like to introduce would cover all aspects of the business relationship, along with an integrated check and balance system to make certain said standards are being met.

Now, I can already hear some of you whining, and all I have to say is this: just shut the hell up before I jam a spork through your empty head. The reason why the PAS is universally ignored by the Art World as a whole is actually quite simple: we concentrate way too much on the after-party and not enough on the show.

Sure, there a few notable exceptions, Paul S. Wilson’s recent exhibition at Willo North Gallery standing as an excellent example of
  true professionalism, but overall- the PAS embodies all the style and flair of a second-hand Yugo.

And it’s just as desirable.

I’m sick of half-ass efforts, pretentious (and ultimately useless) Patrons, and hack artists who think that the only requirement to put on a good show is to wear black and drink a lot. And this lack of focus needs to change, come Hell or high-water.

And here’s how we’re gonna do it.

For regular readers of my screeds,  this is familiar territory- I’ve been offering solutions and suggestions in regards to the PAS for over two years now, and if all goes well, many of those concepts will find themselves woven into the fabric of the as yet unfinished Manifesto.

What can I say? I’m a Visionary.

I’m not going into detail yet again about what needs to be done, as there’s no need to flog a dead horse, but  lets just touch upon a detail or two. To start,  the Artists need to bring their “A” game, all the time every time. Not just in regard to the work they produce, but also in how they approach presentation, pricing, and dealing with their potential Patrons.

In other words, a sense of professionalism inherent in everything they do. But they’re not the only ones I’m taking to task. The Galleries in this town need to jack up their efforts as well, and that right quick. This relationship is symbiotic- if one fails, they both fail.

So what do the Galleries need to do to ensure that this doesn’t happen? Well, acting more like a business and less like a social club would be a good start., for one. Standard retail hours would also be beneficial, but I’m a pragmatist in regards to this.

The reality of the situation is that most spaces in this town are run by either Artists with very little business acumen, or Art Lovers who work a day gig, sometimes solely to pay the rent for their space.

I do understand that after a hard day in the metaphorical salt mines, very few people want to work an additional shift, even if their heart is in the right place. At the very least however, these Galleries need to be open on the weekends.

Ideally, that schedule would consist of Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sundays by appointment only, if so desired- and not just once or twice a month either- this sea change needs to happen every weekend, all year long.
 

As I said, more like a business and less like a social club.

Promotion is also key to this rebirth of the PAS, a crucial component that so far, has been woefully underutilized. The Galleries and Artists need to start making a joyous noise that’s loud enough to put PHX on the map as a must see destination for Art Lovers and more importantly, Art Buyers.

Of course, these are all just hypothetical musings.

As of yet, the Manifesto is in the process of being created, and that’s where you come in. We want input- your input. One of the best ways to improve the PAS is to find out what it really needs, and  the best way to do that is to cull ideas from the source.

Artists. Galleries. And Patrons*.

[Note: when I say Patrons, I am in fact referring to the select few who actually buy Art, not the drunken Hipsters who infest our scene like a gaggle of skinny jean wearing wood ticks.]

So, here’s something to ponder. Over the next few weeks, I want to hear from you, and in detail. Got an idea? Let me know. If its good, it may just become a stone in the foundation of a new and better PAS.

Have a complaint? I want to hear those too, believe it or not. The only way we’re ever going to improve our overall situation is to get our machine stripped down and make it lean, mean, and profitable.

I say we get that sucker in the garage and just go all shades of medieval on it.

Therefore, if you have a minute or two to add to the growing dialogue, drop me your thoughts and musings at: Darkreich@Yahoo.com and I’ll do my best to stay on top of your responses over the course of the next few weeks as we carefully craft what will hopefully turn out to be a new chapter in the history of the PAS.

Viva La Revolución.

“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.”
- Alexis de Tocqueville