Thursday, October 18, 2012

They Have Landed

Amherst Biennial: Encounter 2 by William Brayton @ The Lord Jeffrey Inn


Roach Patrol said...

They landed a long time ago.

And look what they've done.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we lucky here in the Valley. So much accessible local art everywhere you go. Richard Marsh.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the 1000 cranes put up by UMass students at the Library?

Anonymous said...

Where's a match? Looks like kindling.

bach said...

hey Richard, why not take a look at my case... you know, the 2009 anniversary legacy piece fiasco where the town decided it was ok to engage a local artists services for 125+ hours and then quietly sweep the pubic art project under the rug, leaving me without any compensation.

look around amherst, therereally isn't that much public art their at all...especially for a liberal college town. for the most part, amherst is anti-art. though I managed to get 3 pieces in place before they fucked me over.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is not hostile to art. Actually, Amherst is in the process of buying public art. However, the 250th Committee, which you seem to confuse with the town government, did not want yours.

Anonymous said...

Huh? The Amherst Biennial has 100 works from 45 area artists. Sounds like Amherst supports public art to me.

Anonymous said...

I am familiar with your issue Bach. I think you were screwed over, regardless of the technicalities, and I think they should do the right thing and compensate you. But whatever happens I hope you can someday be at peace with it... it seems to be torturing you.
But I disagree about the local art scene. Amherst has an interesting gallery walk every first Thursday, the Jones Library is constantly rotating their installations. Northampton has an Arts Night Out every second Friday, and Easthampton every second Saturday. It's not NYC, but there is some beautiful local art out there. Richard Marsh.

Dr. Ed said...

I hate to say this, but I think our concept of art has descended to the level of the children's story about the Emperor's New Suit of Clothes.

This is crap. A bunch of stuff, tossed together, at what undoubtedly was an obscene high price, is not art.

Art is a humanity and the humanities, by definition, are things which explore the human condition and move the soul.

This, by contrast, is a pile of junk. I don't know what the message here is supposed to be, but if I need a half dozen degrees in art appreciation to understand it, it isn't art (which the layman should be able to both understand and appreciate).

It was on private property and this is a free country, but I will never forget the cardboard picket fence, particularly after it rained. That, too, I am told was "art" -- I called it "a pile of soggy cardboard that is on the verge of being a health hazard."

It is a free country, and as long as I don't have to pay for it, I really don't care, but please don't make me call this stuff "art."

It ain't.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you are ignorant in a whole nother area.

bach said...

clarification: committee members = part of town govt
ie: committee members are legally bound as town representatives

interesting section on conflict of interest

thanks for your response richard.

Anonymous said...

Ed, that is a definite right side response, common among intellectuals, no offense intended. Abstract art, symbolist art, which are all under the umbrella of Modern Art, are not only legitimate forms, but reflect every facet of our culture, physical world, and very existence. It is the duty of artists, poets, philosophers etc. to present the populace with ever changing interpretations of all those things... After all, much of what we do and say each day is done in a non-linear way, abstract way, or symbolic way. The glance instead of a word that you give to your wife, or child, or friend. The way we all gather for an event and celebrate together in a communal fashion... all these things and more are represented in various forms of art. Just because one cannot necessarily look at a piece such as this and figure it out immediately does not mean it is not art. It doesn't mean it is art either, but it cannot be dismissed solely on the grounds you are referencing. Sometimes art needs an artist's statement, sometimes just a title, sometimes just the inherent beauty of a piece is enough... but not always. There is other criteria, including judgement from other artists and historians, and yes, even the ability of a piece to be desired enough to be sellable. You are an educated man Ed, just open that left side up a bit. Respectfully, Richard Marsh.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with modern art is that prior to FDR and the New Deal (and that is where things changed), art was whatever someone rich thought it was.

Popes, Kings, Robber Barons -- folk with lots of money funded artists -- the point is that they weren't artists themselves. And artists were "starving" -- sometimes literally -- one was an artist for the love of the craft and not to make a living let alone get rich.

The problem now is that artists make art for other artists as that is who will judge them. It is other artists who are the gatekeepers for funding and that is a big change from when it was the rich philistines.

How much of this modern art would exist in a competitive marketplace? If the money wasn't required to be set aside for it, if it was a case of a new roof or a new piece of art, how much of it would be bought?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:31, a minuscule amount of art is publicly funded. I think it's a mistake to assume that any serious artist would create art for approval from anyone. I know many artists, some who have never sold a piece, and to a person they create because it is an innate need. If their art pleases others they sell, if not, they toil in obscurity. As far as the tiny pot of money that is doled art for various projects, both public and private... someone has to decide where it goes, who better than other artists? I would suggest that they do a good job. Think the Northampton railroad bridge, or the Sojourner Truth statue, both were public. Or the Frost statue at Amherst College, a privately funded piece. And personally, I really like the piece that Larry highlighted. RM.

Dr. Ed said...

Mr Morse -- That was my comment that went anonymous -- and I was referencing things like the 2% "art tax" on all public buildings -- I am vaguely remembering something from a class David Knapp taught a couple decades (5 programs and 3 degrees) ago and it may only be UMass buildings and it may be more than 2% but the basic issue was that if you build a building, you get $X to build it with, from which you have to deduct (I believe) the 2% so you actually have to cut something else to build your building from the $X-2% that you wind up with.

I am from the now-defunct "Good Government" school at the University of Maine at Orono -- where I got my BA -- and I believe in open government and direct allocations of funds -- not "taxes" placed on other budgets and allocations. Which is how things are increasingly being done - and hidden from oversight.

Know how the UMPD got their nice new $12M station? They put a per-square-foot "tax" on the rest of the campus for police protection...

(This came out in the family housing rent increase issue and I argued that a Family Housing apartment does not have the same per-square-foot consumption of police services that a SW tower does, and hence we shouldn't be charged the same rate.)

But they did the same thing to the academic departments, which means that, say, the English Department which has X amount of money for Y amount of instruction (and it isn't enough anyway), now only has X minus the cop-tax amount of money --- hires one less TA, offers two less classes and the students (and their parents) never even realize they are paying for a police station that really wasn't absolutely necessary to have.

Know how they finally funded the Peoplesoft fiasco? Is it a 7% or 9% "tax" on every budget at UMass -- I forget, but I know anyone there with a budget can tell me the full figure including the fraction.

And how much of this "private" art exists only because it was a prerequisite condition for approval of the building permits and such?

This, Mr. Morse, is my objection.

Elect a legislature that funds this junk, pass a referendum to do so, and do it openly and publicly, and I will accept the fact that I was outvoted. I object to the sneaking-it-in approach -- the budget "taxes", the requirements for permit approval and the like.

That is not "good government" and as I wrote above, that is where I am coming from.

I don't quite know what 'Bach's issue is -- nor want to -- but when public funds get filtered through 2/3/4 different entities and all, no -- I don't like that. I would much rather the selectboard go "we will fund x for y, all in favor?" - public, recorded, and accountable.

(I would even go so far as to have a biennial question on the continued tenure of officials such as the Police and Fire Chief and School Supt - no the public isn't qualified to hire them on a ballot basis, but I do believe the public is qualified to fire them (with they having the option to reapply to guard against low turnout majorities) - imagine how this would change Amherst -- neither Charlie Scherpa nor Maria G would have remained in office...)

Bottom line, if art is to be publicly funded, then the democratic thing is to (a) have this as this directly and (b) give the voters the option on it.

Dr. Ed said...

Two other things on art, Mr. Morse - and I also mean no disrespect here, but there is very much a left/right schism on art and it is more than just linear/nonlinear.

Piss Christ comes to mind -- that was the (I believe NIH-funded) piece of art involving a Christian crucifix immersed in the artist's urine.

That is an inherent political statement, and I will defend it as such (and as protected speech -- and I like to remind people that the more reprehensible you find the speech, the more you need to protect it).

As a Christian, "Piss Christ" offended me deeply - but I also know the higher cost of not defending the misguided schmucks with reprehensible messages -- my undergrad professors were First Amendment absolutists because they had spent their teenage years in Europe dealing with a man named Hitler.

But I raise two questions:

1: Content neutrality. Would there be similar acceptance of (and protection of) a "Piss Allah" statement identical in nature, i.e. a Koran immersed in the artist's urine?

What about one wanting to make a statement about racial relations and a "Piss King" statement with a portrait/statute of the late Dr. MLK2 immersed in the artist's urine?

Would both be given access to the same public forii that "Piss Christ was, and defended with the same vigor? No - we both know that - and that is a problem.

2: Is all symbolic political speech inherently art?

The classic is _Cohen v. California_ - the kid who wrote "F*** the Draft" on his jacket -- a ruling which I have personally seen court officers violate in their refusal to let people wear certain things in side the court building. But I digress.

Was Cohen's jacket "art"? What about a burning US Flag (or a burning Gay Pride flag, which I would argue is equally protected)?

This is where I get into who is (and isn't) allowed to call himself/herself/itself an "artist" and thus be protected under the "well it's art" defense.

This is what the right has against art -- and why the appointment of Lynne Cheney to the Natl Endoment for the Humanities actually saved the NEH. Look at conservatives and PBS -- but then compare PBS to something like History Channel's Ollie North's "War Stories" and ask yourself if PBS would even let Ollie North into the building...

In other words, I am being required to fund/support political speech with which I disagree, while speech on the other side (which I also may disagree with) is being denied access to the forum. That is a problem.

Dr. Ed said...

Two other points on art -- and the first still about political speech.

THIS is something that *I* consider to be art:

That's my late cousin and his boat, and it very much was political commentary on some stuff that was going on at the time. I consider Bo Bartlett to be an artist, but he also is a normal person who does other things, I've met him in church.

Now the hours involved in painting something like this versus the hours involved in bolting a few things together - the skill and talent involved in painting something like this (which I could not do) versus bolting a bunch of random stuff together (which I could do with more ease than bolting stuff into my car) -- I make a distinction.

In education, the term is "Academic Rigor" - I don't know what the art version would be, but I would argue that there is an inherently objective measure of time/effort/skill that something requires, and I don't see any equivalence in the abstract art.


For personal reasons, I will never appreciate abstract art -- no more than someone who is colorblind will appreciate skillful use of colors.

But if we are all so very much into diversity, why not diversity in art? Why is only the non-linear abstract art acceptable for public display? Why not also include "linear" art?

Knowing what was going on at the time, I think I know what the artist's message was - and it isn't the one that a lot of people took from it when this went on display in the Farnsworth at the height of the mess -- but my point is that anyone looking at this can get a message from it. Now as to the abstract stuff, well, respectfully.....

Anonymous said...

Ed, that was me, Richard Marsh, not Mr. Morse. I signed the first opinion and initialed the second, sorry.

bach said...

as one who actually earns my living doing primarily abstract metal art, I must disagree with "I spend my precious life moments posting to larry's blog ED". hang out in my shop for a few days and get a grip on just how many people a day tell me I am incredible and creative. it happens every single day. just because I can't paint lobsters or whatever, I didn't bother to look, doesn't mean i can't use my creative vision to create abstract objects that people enjoy. without being political. so your attack on those of us who merely bolt things together (actually I am a skilled woodworker, stoneworker, and multidisciplined metalworker) is as closed minded and self righteous as most of your posts, which are so long and arduous I doubt even Larry reads them anymore. some of us artists are more skilled or less skilled, that does not change the fact that we ARE still artists. I know you don't care to look into my case with amherst, maybe because I just bolt shit together, but the town committee invited me to a contest, I won, they subsequently engaged me in over 100 hours of meetings and drawing revisions. then people who had a direct conflict of interest, namely Barry Roberts and carol Johnson, were involved in terminating the project with no compensation. further the chair of the public arts commission resigned from that committee, and now does not bother to throw me a bone by inviting the only artist to have 3 individual public pieces within the town of amherst. ain't that purdy?