Another small treasure slipping away. Quintus Gallery, perhaps the most beautiful individually run venue for art in New York State, the one which hosted the work of 37 international Stuckists last October, is moving on due to financial pressure. I am very sad to hear this. Sad and mad.
On Valentine’s Day I am having a one night viewing of work by 16 Stuckists.
The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.
I was never “opposed to a gallery system”. Not the small gallery. I was and am against fierce competition in art, back-stabbing, soul stealing. Many artists today are trying to make their way buying into a visual system that mirrors I Heart Radio corporate crap sniff. Always hoping and praying to be authenticated by the unartists, the business class, the people parasites. Some are boxed in so tightly in university comfort adding little triumphs to their “market me” CV’s. Some are truly just non-creative bores with money.
Lots of money.
Kathy at Quintus moved beyond the subjective—she knew (knows) that there better be a human being in the art, or their is no art. The first time she saw my work I was amazed at the time she took looking at each painting, asking about it, being alone with it, to leave it be for an hour to think about it, to return to talk with me about life, art, history… and then, hooray! Buy it.
She and Joe will do fine. I am not worried for their future.
However, I am calling out the devils which divide us. The following letter to ARTnews, Hyperallergic, Gallerie St. Etienne, and The Painter’s Table I wrote a few weeks before our opening at Quintus last autumn, to uninvite them. I mailed copies to each institution. Cost me five stamps, but well worth it. In my opinion they are poisonous places to which Stuckism remains a potent antidote.
Quintus is (was) a worthy middleman to art. Small galleries could and should remain solvent into the 21st century. But we’ll need to kill the art celebrity as soon as possible. For Wednesday’s show I am making shrimp bisque and buying up as much sparkling wine my family can afford. Come by and get stuffed, but you better promise to look at what we’ve painted. Just look at the paintings. None of us need a helper to tell us what is good to look at. Not at Manhattan rent costs. Only avarice can come from that.
Letter to ARTnews, Hyperallergic, Gallerie St. Etienne, The Painter’s Table, and ewwww, gross—Juxtapoze
110 Greene Street
New York, N.Y. 10012
A gray, cool autumn morning here in Oswego, N.Y.—my favorite kind of day, which I began in the basement painting and listening to Van Morrison records. I waved my wife off to work and looked to the sky getting grayer, and made the psychological small jump to mow the lawn before the weekend rain comes, and the grass gets wet and clingy.
These cool, intellectual days I think about everything, and during mundane moments of mowing the lawn or doing the dishes, I let the muse in to determine which direction the juices shall pour, not flow.
Today, ARTnews and Hyperallergic got in there somehow. Also Galerie St. Etienne, and then I just let the three of them sit down for a smoke and a talk in the situation room that is my brain. The small Internet site called The Painter’s Table stopped in later on, while mowing the backyard, and I vowed to skip the morning painting and let loose this meeting of my very limited access to the art world that comes via the business Internet.
This spring the Galerie St. Etienne returned the self-published books I sent to it six months prior, along with a kind letter expressing regret that it no longer sought outside contemporary artists. I found it strange to send back a gift of kindness, as might a team of lawyers scheme to thwart liability, and not accept it like any curious human being with a heart would. My God, I thought it was a gallery, not a law firm!
Anyway, it was kind to send reply—the one in a thousand received over my long painting and writing anti-career. It seems that Galerie St. Etienne respects the unknown building block (the artist) who gives credence to the myriad of buildings hanging pictures on sheetrock for profit. There is no bread and butter without cows and grass. Few galleries seem to get this, and those that do just might be the human ones that organizations like ARTnews don’t need to write about in wonder why they are struggling to make ends meet.
Now I have sent presents of my books to Hyperallergic, ARTnews, and I believe even The Painters’ Table because I am a painter, not a businessman. I send them with hope, never greed, and each facility should know that I have done so for many years to many individuals and institutions because I am an expressive artist, not unlike many who begin in a similar vein but end up working for the business of art. I am expressive, yet also hungry—not starving—just seeking enough financial success to keep from falling back to line cooking in my late middle age. I love to paint. And unlike a choreographed Mick Jagger, Jeff Koons, or ARTnews, I seek just enough dough to continue to do so.
Also, I loathe promotion more than I adore self liberation. So it is no thrill for me to seek approval to those who can help deliver a meager cash flow into my home. But I do it anyway. Because I am human and made of carbon and contradiction.
Now this morning Hrag Vartanian, a self ascribed promoter of art and culture at places like L.A. round table discussions, white-washed Chautauqua Institutions, and that beloved next-gentrification called “Brooklyn”, wrote in a fast tweet, like our dear lonesome president, his frustration at being used as other people’s “PR”—I assume he meant “public relations”.
Who wouldn’t be? All people just want to be loved for the right reasons. Nobody likes the feeling of being used. Like me, Hrag is an expressive individual, and I often even agree with his knee-jerk politics. Again, like me, he is probably also a bit delusional. However, I know this truth: He uses Twitter® more like a gossiping school kid than a person actually interested in painting. Privately I bet he’s a great guy, loved by friends and family, as well he should be. However, publicly I see him as an arrogant vanity that holds power and influence over others, and seems to like it, almost sardonically. To contrast, I will only express my overt arrogance in private, to my wife, children, and maybe a few close friends. To me, as a man and artist, that is my social success. Unlike financial success, I do not need to hope for it. It has already arrived! Likewise, as a painter and a man, I don’t need Hrag through Hyperallergic to promote me as a painter. I expect it.
As previously mentioned, I do seek financial dishwasher status in the art world. It is his job as editor and founder of a popular art blog to review me and many others in a very long list, else apologize readily for the insurmountable backlog. Otherwise, he and other institutional aggrandizing promoters like him (ARTnews and The NY Times) are irrelevant. All profit-driven art propagandists are no more than a bullhorn for established galleries like David Zwirner, and also that lying piece of billionaire tax write-off auction brothel, Christies®.
Here is why. No artist is or can be profit-driven and remain an artist. That should be the #1 precept printed poster-sized across the wall in art editorial rooms. Again, if it’s not what you stand by, then, as art promoter, Hyperallergic and ARTnews are irrelevant, just another businessperson’s scam.
That is my private belief now made public. I feel a strong connection to the art movement Stuckism, which keeps me painting when nobody, especially the bought and paid for editors of popularity, cannot recognize a damned kindness from an artist when they see it (a free book promoting other painters). They do notice his query about advertising, however. Why shouldn’t they? These institutions, like individuals, also seek financial success, and work hard to achieve it. When there’s a potential paycheck in the e-mail, then of course, open it up. I also trash the spam. Nobody likes the beggars, whether dressed up corporate crisp, or down, door-to-door like the ragman. I do not argue Hyperallergic nor ARTnews their desire to stay relevant, and likewise, financially afloat in the media sea of art. Their inevitable defeat into the 21st century is due to reliance on income from established wealth when the new age promoters of art (humanity) seek magnanimity in culture, as well as the pretty pictures. ARTnews cannot survive continuing to cherry pick what their readers need to “see” art to be, while relying on established interests to promote the vicious circle of money = relevance = money. A paradigm which is anti-art in a nutshell, and shouldn’t take a nutter like me to show all and sundry. I think the real world of humanity gets it. The Painters’ Table I forgive because it’s too small yet to hate painting enough to profit enormously by it. I think the editors are sincere—visually anyway. They probably don’t “see” like I do how many of the painters that they highlight love money almost enough to eat it. These editors seek pretty pictures with a twist—rarely human paintings by people who wish to liberate us from what ails us.
By the way, unlike Hrag Vartanian, I also do PR for others, and enjoy it very much. I’m doing it now for an incredible gallery show that Hyperallergic has taken no interest in (until it is celebrity of course, mainstream, established—like gypsum dust in wallboard). I’ve written to Hyperallergic about it without reply, also ARTnews, NY Times, Central NY newspaper arts editors—Cornell University art professionals (the painting professors!). I send postcards. I send exhibition or creative books to others. I ask that this show of 37 painters living in 9 countries be well-attended—to honor each sending his or her work from far away to a little community in the center of the real art world—which is any place where art for art’s sake thrives, and profit for more profit’s forecast dies.
Quintus is that small “struggling” art gallery that ARTnews and Hyperallergic cry crocodile tears over. Like the artist, it too can be the canary in the coal mine to profit-driven culture fabricators. Quintus Gallery is poised to make history next month which the next generation of art propagandists will glowingly report on because some influential gallery in Singapore needs Christies, Inc. to buy this dead painter so and so’s life to make another billionaire lie work for the billionaire. I say to these future struggling institutions of irrelevance, “Go eat cheese!”
Hear ye, hear ye Hyperallergic, ARTnews, and NY Times! I officially uninvite you to Quintus Gallery in Watkins Glen for opening night on Friday, October 13, from 6 – 9 p.m. You like money, maybe status too, but not art. The Painters’ Table can still come, if it stops looking do damn depressed. Either way, it would do itself a good turn to invite just a wee bit of Stuckism into its sycophantic soul. Heck, we’re all painters, aren’t we? Wake up!
Just this moment the magazine Juxtapoze popped into the smoking room of my muse. It is even more un-invited than the others. And if I catch any of those phony art and artist killers lurking outside the gallery on Friday night the 13th, then I might actually become bouncer and kick those bony phonies into Seneca Lake!