All Art is Local . . . Joining Together For a Common Cause
by Gary John Gresl
We have all heard the expression, “All politics is local”,
which I interpret to mean that even large scale State and National
elections depend upon the turnout and results of local voting. The
results of the small local precincts, villages, towns, and counties
combine to determine the winners and policies at larger scale
levels, and often the local winners voice their support for others
in higher positions.
So...can this phenomenon be applied to the visual arts, and for
the betterment of the visual arts, artists, patrons and the public? Hmmm...think
In the Milwaukee area alone these artist organized entities exist: Riverwest
Artists Association, Walkers Point Artist Association, West Allis
Art Alliance, League of Milwaukee Artists, Third Ward Art Association,
Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors Southeast Chapter, Milwaukee
Sketch Club, ABEA. MATA....and several more.
There has been very little or no exchange between these entities. Each
exists largely as a separate organization, having established
borders and turf with local differences in culture… while
all of the organizations have similar, if not identical, goals. For
example, the goal to foster a climate whereby member work can
be exhibited promoted and encouraged.
The end result is to put in place persons and laws that theoretically
will benefit the most people from across all voting regions, and
that goal is one which all voters understand without need for
further analysis. From neighborhoods to the national level,
the single goal is to get more votes for one’s candidate
than the competitors get for theirs, no matter what the features
of the local entities are.
Artists, and the organizations to which a lot of them belong,
can do better than what they have done. The various organizations
would do well to exchange ideas, since there are similar goals
shared among them...to share knowledge...to work together for
the common goals of gaining media attention, public understanding,
education and acclaim. Differences in the type of art produced
in terms of subject, quality and media, must be overlooked to
strengthen the common cause. Each organization can still
have its own criteria for membership, whether that is by jurying,
being in a neighborhood, or by merely signing a check. No
organization need lower its standards for membership in order
to work with other organizations. However, excluding groups
because of elitism, prejudices, judgments of quality, will continue
to divide visual artists and forever render them ineffective.
If the goal of greater exposure and support for visual artists
is to be achieved to the greatest extent possible, joining arms
to achieve the goal means that we must overlook the cultural differences
of each artist organization...the marketplace will eventually
determine and winnow thru the processes of selection.
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