Saturday, August 27, 2011

Collaboration Against All Odds

Current competitive atmosphere in a down cycle economy creates a strange divide amongst people. It can be a cutthroat atmosphere. It’s refreshing to find creative minds that are still excited by the process of art not merely creating product. Essentially, these artist need to survive. Many however are refusing to sell out their ideals for the sake of getting ahead. There is an amazing movement against pay per view art parties and a welcoming of exhibitions that have validity in meaning. Conceptual art takes time to understand and appreciate. Its intention is not to match your d├ęcor. It is a reaction against formalism. Conceptual art is meant to evoke emotion and discussion. I can think of no better time in this social climate to think, feel and discuss more than put up walls of defense and oppositions. Creativity is about collaboration and building off others previous undertakings. There still is desire to move someone enough to collect. The most rewarding endeavor would be one created for the sake of art itself. It takes true security to be open to share thoughts amongst others. There is always risk of being copied or stepped on. The beauty lies within those seeking deeper connections with pure selfless intention.

We must work to resolve conflicts in a spirit of reconciliation and always keep others' interests in mind.” Dalai Lama

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome to the real party...

Have you ever been to a party or club and made it to the VIP room? The first time in you are thinking "oh so this is the real event, the rest is like the waiting line outside" or something to that effect. ( at least that is what I was thinking that first time)

Who makes the list, and why? Why didn't you get into that VIP room before?

Professionally, now I want to talk about that same concept. The world of art fairs is not like any other trade show in any industry. You can not merely apply and whoever is willing to pay gets booth space. At least not the well respected fairs; it is a highly competitive process. I have been thinking of my best strategy for fair entry for a few years now. I wanted to do my homework and find the one I found fit my vision best. I wanted to find the fair I thought had enough swagger to deliver not only potential collectors but also denote a level of proficiency with my job if accepted.

A few years ago, as I began my life as a gallerist, I asked a competitor locally about these fairs. She was exhibiting in a fair I thought sub-par. I was not fond of the hotel layout. It felt different than any other fair for Miami Art Basel and the energy of the exhibitors felt desperate and stale in their separate rooms. I asked her if it was productive, and why not another fair with bigger name. In the Miami Art Basel week there are many satellite fairs. Why that one? The response back was less than objective or even kind. I was told yes it was productive. I was told "I didn't curate well enough to be accepted in those other fairs let alone make that fair." I remember those words to this day exactly. She went on to say well she didn't e curate well enough either to make those other fairs. Then explained how another gallery, well respected for this area didn't even make the cut for her fair and was directed to the next fair in Chicago.

I thought about that a lot. I talked to as many impressive people in the art industry I could find about the subject. I went onto websites of industry veterans that did show in these impressive fairs. I looked long and hard at their schedules. What did they offer that I was not doing exactly? I took a different strategy in my mix of my "program."

I was sure of only one thing. It was making me happier because I felt I was doing my best work. I tried to push boundaries with topics. I tried to push boundaries with use of medium. I did my best to bring in artist that had either made great success for themselves or were emerging to be highly notable and interesting. It didn't always work. Sometimes I felt let down. Often the sales were not impressive. But sometimes it all came to sync. I took a risk. The artist pushed boundaries and it sold.

I vowed to never rest on the easy. Mass amounts of artist ask to show, as we know some not subtle or professional in their approach, some follow protocol but fall short of my vision. When I find a gem it makes it all that much sweeter. Yes, I really want to show this one and there's always a plan or reason. Never because I had a space to fill and they were there.

There was intention in what I did every time. Sometimes people got that. Sometimes people left saying how weird or disturbing.

I am not showing art to match your home decor. There may be more money in fluffy cloud paintings or florals. However, I knew deep down there should conceptually be something there or why bother. I don't want fluffy couch matching "art" in my living space. I know there are many others too that appreciate good art. However in his community they are limited, very limited.

This was the first year I felt ready to apply to my fair of choice. I decided last week I was ready. I merely asked one question to the information email about the locations. There was at one point a hotel and Wynwood location. The director himself wrote back and explained they had hotel trouble. They decided to consolidate to the stronger location. I explained that although I loved the intimate vibe at the hotel I would indeed apply to the Wynwood location. I explained a little about the artist I would propose because one had shown in the hotel lobby last year for a magazine party.

Next thing I know I am being invited to show. I am being told that the two directors went onto my website and felt my program would indeed fit their fair quite well, no application needed.

I was trying to get the next few shows to send me their CV's to impress this fair, meanwhile my past body of shows was enough.

I understand I still must actually rent the booth space. But let's recap; it's a highly selective process. I had a person in my past doubt my ability to make it to a lesser fair. I became driven and focused to do what it took to be good enough.

...welcome to the real party...

I feel like I was given the VIP pass to the party.

Now let's hope the market is still buying art. I know the climate has shifted in general. But, I am happy to be exposing my space and these select few artists to a more sophisticated collector and art appreciator.

It is a door to a new world.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dear Diary,

Why Blog?
Is there a narcissistic need to put out your every monotonous minute by minute detail of your life? Is it a narcissistic detail of what you ate, or how far you run/ how long you exercise? Is a blog a means to be hateful and make an anonymous attack on others? Why? Blog?
Dear Diary used to be a private way to get out inner thoughts in privacy. Now it takes on a new meaning when it's published on the web. Why do it ? Is it still "Dear Diary" if you don't broadcast your blog?

Or if you lead people to it does it make you a narcissist?

Well somewhere in the middle is this little rant.

I want to talk about public scrutiny and the place where anonymous people lift you up and stand up for you. ( If you didn't read "the hateful blog about me" this will be cryptic, and that for me is ok, if not it's my response on my terms)

I do not want to give too much thought or energy to hateful small people, especially attention seeking people that try for shock value. However, its a reoccurring theme in my life.

Friends say, it's because you are doing well, good things in your life make small people like to try to take you down. I like that. Does it make me narcissistic? Maybe?

But maybe along the path I have tripped a few people. I have also stood up to a few bullies or thieves along this path. Those people never say.."hey I tried defraud were right to hold the work until I paid you." Or" Hey, I bullied you for years, so when you stood up for yourself good for you." Or " I squandered my opportunity with you, when you ended the professional and personal relationship I deserved it."

I do understand I am not perfect. I can caste out hateful energy into the universe. I often feel I am entitled. They did this to me, so therefore, I can then respond.

Is it ever ok? In a very zen mentality, nope never: Energy Out, Energy In. What you put out comes back to you. Reality..well bullies, thieves and hateful people need to be dealt with or you validate their energy.

So how do you get "Carbon Neutral Karma?" When you can not clean up your pollution can you balance the energy is other ways?

Not sure, it's my work in progress.

Treat the next guy I date differently, treat the next person to wrong me with kid gloves to minimize the after effect.

Dear Diary,

I just want to be left in an anonymous state to continue my journey in peace to figure things out for myself with out hecklers. Please make the next guy honest, sweet and without malicious intention. ( ok that seems a bit far fetched in reality) How about next time when faced with chaos I can control my reactions so that they do not come back to bite me later? better?



ok seriously, I think intentions for blogs must be a disclaimer in reading these blogs.

And to the haters, bite me. I still like me. I think you need to look within. Kiss my hiney.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Why haven't you learned anything" Willy Wonka

Have you ever felt that life is one continuation of high school? I look around sometimes and see people in my world and think: you are the popular clique, you are the mean girls, you are the geeks, the jocks and so on. I wonder how I am involved in it all. Do I manage to stay on the outside and escape the madness, or am I a player in the game as well?

I caught myself describing personalities of artist or local competitors recently. I felt caught up in it all saying this one treated me like this and that. I found myself saying, I am not interested in being a part of it all. It felt very high school.

And with that I was of course presented with a life lesson to remind me what that all really meant.

When you reconnect with people from your past, and those that may not have been nice to you then, do you forgive or hold a grudge? Do you allow for them to have evolved, or will they always be that person there were when they were 15?

I came in with an open mind. I did my best to hear about what life is like now for them and what had been important since then. I think with any conversation in which you get to know strangers some never care about you. They just wait for their chance to speak. Others have grown and evolved. It's amazing to see who they have become; and how small hobbies or quirks they had as teens now manifest into amazing careers and wonderful family life.

Then there are those that were really horrible people you knew growing up that now appear to have evolved. You watch and listen and think, "wow time has really passed and they seem to be far more mature now, good for them." But really, you were just seeing facade. It took very little for the wall to come down and for me to see the arrested development club.

They easily revert to the horrible people you remembered. And you want nothing but to quietly turn and walk away. Because, I know I am an evolved human. That I have more important things to do in life than to fight childish fights with petty people so unfulfilled in their lives the dwell in taking pleasure at belittling others. But once in the thick of a bully confrontation, I can not walk away without standing up for myself. Hell to the No will I slink away to not confront them leaving them feeling validated in their shallow insults.

It started simply and once the finger pointing started. I decided to simply be the voice of the past and say, "Hey you were not a victim because you were kicked out of boarding school. You deserved it. It was not my fault. You were a bully. You were a looser. Everyone knew, no one had to tell anyone. Everyone knew."

Well this opened a floodgate of borderline personality, mixed with mob* mentality, with a splash of delusion...and the fight was on. As I found it all hysterical and pointed it out. These imbeciles. repeat.."NO WE THINK ITS FUNNY!" ad nausium

*( OK four losers but they feed off each other which defines mob mentality in this situation)

I disengage and because there is no substance in their lives, or development emotionally. They continues the fight without me for a day, my guess it still continues. It is a futile situation. You can't reason with insanity. It might be funny. It might be pathetic. But, once the concept of loss of self can't be regained there will always be a continuation of that grade school mentality of "No you are, no you are"...repeating circular argument that was futile in inception. Those that know me get I could care less if you like me. I like me, take it or leave it. I don't give a shit. I have pulled myself out of dark places and reemerged a new person wiser and stronger physically and emotionally. I am in a place in my life where I am getting media validation for my efforts and struggles to stay true to myself and my vision. That is always welcome and most appreciated. But, what these others think about me, these nobodies from my past, who cares? Ramble on, it's a bit masturbatory at this stage.

So, they think if they continue their gossip about me it will somehow regain their power position. As any bully is seeking, control and power, because of deep insecurity. They stalk me, google me and post media pictures of me they think will push my buttons. They have now consumed themselves with me for more than a day. Pathetic is now an understatement.

Who cares? I like me. I like the fact out of a community of a few millions I was selected to profile for this reason or that. Do I care if the picture wasn't the best one out of the roll that was taken that day? Not so much, because it's me. I like me.

I like that I can run further and faster than I could in my teens. I like that I do what I do with my level of fitness now if only for me, to push myself further than I would ever think possible. Are some camera angles or outfits more flattering than others? Yes. Does it change the fact I am content with me. No.

Suck on that.

I love my life. I love the people in my life and my inner circle is rock solid. My outer circle as well is large and growing.

I am blessed.

So as my mentor suggests as a life reaction is the best reaction. There are times when it just isn't worth the effort. But I think back to the theory of being bullied, or cyberbullied as it were these days, and I stand up for me.

Then I walk away. Anymore is just a futile situation.

It comes full circle, last night I am in a meeting with another business owner about a mini film event and the potential of a block party. He asked me to work with some people I originally thought NO WAY. This is the high school crowd 2009 version, not them, only my inner circle of business will I work with.

This morning... I am in a conversation with a friend and colleague at the gym. If we were to describe him in high school terms, he's big man on campus. They guy everyone comes to his parties and wants as their friend. We are discussing the current show, the sales of toys, the future of toys. He drops a pearl of wisdom unknowingly that connects all the dots. I think the concept of making these "Weapons" ( toy weapons, but weapons none the less), funny and cool sits in my brain as I run along the water after our chat. I think about excluding those in the block party I felt were perhaps a knock off or not the nicest people in the world. The mix shift to the sample where the voice comes out of the darkness of drumbeats..."Why haven't you learned anything" comes Willy Wonka's voice teeming with anger.

I think you know what...I have. I will offer the opportunity to all for the block party event. I will ask him to make the weapon concept show for the event.

Because it's better to live life with humor than bitter rivalry and anger.

It's better to know you are content with you despite others shenanigans.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record

Sometimes people can move in parallel existences never touching another soul. My life somehow became the opposite. I am unsure if I went looking for the existential link, or if one day I had an awakening. It seems like maybe it all happened at once. I find myself in a place I am painfully aware that my actions do not go unnoticed. This is not some self inflated notion of power. I realize the impact is small in the grand scale of life. However, public nature of my career creates a somewhat unusual situation. The pressure is all around me. It feels like a daily test.

So this is my place to reflect and hopefully gain perspective on it all.

I once read a gallerist in Paris say he was a bridge. He was a bridge between the artist, the collector, and specific movements in art. He was a there to assure artist while moving in a new direction that it would all be great.

I think about those poetic words daily. I wonder, if because of shared experience , am I as well a bridge?

Reality is not poetic. There are a handful of wonderful artist I work with that are fantastically balanced, creative and technically profound. For those individuals I am truly grateful. Eventually, they should be a majority in my life. However, it appears at times it is quite the opposite.

These people are high maintenance, neurotic and at times generally insane. There are some riding one success never to create another masterpiece. The subsequent creations are less than profound. The level of education does not predict quality of work or even a level of professionalism. The over inflated ego will either price work beyond reality, bring sub-par work that looks nothing like the portfolio work, create work last minute that as well is not the promised work and does not meet my standards, or the select few that won't sell work. As if I should be grateful to be merely in the presence of their creations. I am not a gallery that chooses artist or work based solely on saleability. However, I am a business. There must be a balance to continue.

Then today, I read a show proposal and I thought...there is nothing new. These all sound the same...we are reacting to the societal issues of..blah..blah..blah.

Is it true we get so caught up in rhetoric that the work alone looses meaning?

And to touch on the pressures of being a bridge; there are hecklers. I think in these cases it is best to give a frame of reference of what qualifies their opinion and why. It's critiquing the critic.

As well the knock off, there is a phenomenon in my life now to take concepts and try to beat me to the start. For example the sound installation. I put the call to artist out there and within a few weeks another call to artist was posted in the same location using almost the exact same description for the event listed as under a local museum young professional group set to open less than a week before my event listed on that call to artist.

I understand that not all ideas are original, however his was an obvious knock off event. People noticed and I had plenty of feedback it just was wrong on a multitude of levels.

The concept of collaborate , live and let live, or every man for themselves: Is it about security? Is it insecure for those that step on you to make their own in the world, or just bad karma?

And is this what matters most how we treat each other?

Or does great art stand alone no matter what?

What if it's not great but mediocre art and those knock offs are rewarded like the popular kids in high school. It doesn't matter the quality of work if your friends don't tell the truth, or care as long as there's a DJ and drinks.

Does it matter?

What if you keep your eyes on your own page and do you best in life the rest will work itself out eventually right?

Now to continue, I am as well a bridge to an influx of people that come into the space. This becomes a series of people that appreciate art, collectors, artist looking for a show and random people . I like to refer to as those seeking something from me. "Let me entertain you" I repeat in my head as the series of personal questions stream from their minds. They rarely look at the art. They seem more concerned with "other." And generally it's me. When, how, why what is my background, how is the neighborhood? This eventually ends with a personalization or pitch . I do know we are all connected. I do know there is some level of civility and politeness that I should easily exchange in conversation. There are days that I do. There are times when I could just scream.