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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ART AND MONEY

     drawing by richard serra



Can't turn on the radio any more today. Low-life politicians of the storm-trooper variety caught up in their pissing contests. I'm better than him. I always remember highschool at election time, the kids running for office, like class president, class secretary, and the like, they were suddenly my best friends at election time. "Hey, buddy, how's it goin?" I'd play the role, thinking at the time how cool it is that the coolest basketball player in school is calling me his buddy? I didn't even know him. Suddenly, I'm cool. Not. The day after the election, I was the same warmed over turd I was before the few days of my surprise coolness. I see these guys like Romney, Gingrich and the rest being super nice, speaking to everybody, vote for me, give me money, I'm a hot dog. I turn the radio off a few minutes into the news. Listening to those people in contest for the role of greatest liar in the land, I hear the fickle attitude of wealth, and push the on/off button on the remote. They're like commercials for the dumbing down of America.



I don't believe in hope, but I do carry a hope that in this "economic downturn" we Americans, collectively, somehow, might catch on that there is something in this world of value besides money. It's too deeply rooted in the American psyche for a quick change. I feel sorrow for people I see who are wholly involved in money, in any way it's done. I take them for the real zombies of the present pop culture zombie craze. Money, as a god, is Mammon, is inert, has no personality, no character, no caring, no understanding, no compassion. But that's ok, considering that the way God, Bigg'n, is portrayed for us by religion as our Judge, who decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. In our religions, God has no more personality, no more personal interest in anybody than money has. The religion is about money now. It was an easy trasition from a God without a personality who judges us to damnation for being who we are, to a god that buys us things. The more we love the money god, the more things he provides. Love God the Father and you get judged and threatened with hell fire forever, according to policy.



I grew up in that dichotomy of the god of judgment preached and the god of money lived. Who would rather worry about sin than drive an expensive car? Solution: do both. Both were done until the love for new things overwhelmed the love for guilt. Through television, the god of money has reached that status of the network most watched, Number One. The preachers on tv are all about the god of money. Their hairdos, jewelry and outrageous clothes dream of wallowing in money like oinkers in a pigpen. This makes for a very dull society of social interaction. When everybody is at home watching tv, they're also griping because "there's nothing to do." The reason there's nothing to do, is whatever it takes to entertain city people costs too much to put on in the small towns where there's not enough money to cover costs.



Every big university in this country has a host of theater majors, classical music majors, and so forth, meaning there are people everywhere among us who can do some very interesting things to entertain each other for free. Playing music for people was free, gas money appreciated. Why not think of putting on entertainments for each other that cost nothing. Debbie does this at the library all the time, and a lot of people go to them. They're all free, paid for by grants. If the musicians would play for free, we wouldn't need grants. Theater groups could do interesting things for free. The point is to get back to the point of making art whatever the form. Art doesn't even figure in America. High schools have art classes, but don't really teach art, because in this time you have to be an Education major to teach. And in a country with emphasis entirely on money, art has no place unless at auctions bringing in millions per. Art in our time is for the rich only, for corporate spaces, attention given to high dollar markets for a few. The rest of us are just out. If you're not in the right galleries, you don't figure at all.



That thinking has to go. The entire country, the United States of America, is overrun with art majors working for corporations in advertising, because that's where the money is. All the time I was young in school, I was browbeat from all directions that money is number one. What you like, what you want besides money is your business, so keep it to yourself. We have an entire nation absolutely art illiterate. And proud of it. And we have a huge number of people interested in art, who have studied art extensively, and do nothing, because nothing sells. So what. Let's get together and make a public art statement on the side of a building, a town mural. For nothing. For the fun of doing it. For the fun of seeing it when it's done. For the fun of other people liking it. This is what street art is about. Do it out someplace where people tend to gather. Artists can be imaginative people and could do a community a great deal of good if they'd take a generous attitude that art isn't about money, anyway.



Art about money creates a situation where artists tend to be jealous toward one another and play snooty with prices. There is no profit in art, any way you look at it, outside New York as one of the ones operating in big money, like Richard Serra. I don't see absence of a market for art being a hindrance. Everybody around me in my world loves art, albeit Norman Rockwell and Bob Timberlake, but that's not all the people like. I know a lot of people who would love to have some original art if they could afford it. Since 1980 when the green light was given to greed, artists have jumped in for the big money ride that has now come to an end, as it was false all the way along. Artists got caught up in big prices and gripe because so little sells. I'd say if art were sold at yard sale prices, it would sell. If artists started doing that, they'd see their work everywhere. But the love of the dear old dead presidents is a little too powerful to allow any changes any times soon. The musicians are doing it now in house parties and small venues where they play for gas money. And everybody loves it better, because it's small and the people there really listen to the music. Musicians prefer a small audience that listens to a big one that isn't listening.



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