This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
A recent FineArtViews article by FASO founder Clint Watson spurred some comment debate about the importance of exhibiting locally. The idea of garnering regional success is a subject that I've tackled in the past on FAV. I firmly believe that artists should place focus on regional art success -- I have this opinion due to economic reasons and because, in my humble opinion, artists have a cultural responsibility to improve and preserve the arts in their region. Artists need to put their conditioned 'big city' dreams of international art stardom aside. Point blank -- artists need to dump the New York City dreams they have been conditioned to have... and instead, focus on their own surroundings -- their own community.
I'm certain that most of us have heard/read some variant of, "If you want to 'make it' in art you have to 'make it' in New York", at one point or the other. The idea that national and international success in art can only be found within NYC has been hard-lined conditioned within the US art community for decades. It is a suggestion that has been fueled by art school gurus, major media and Hollywood. Due to this, many artists have found themselves in NYC only to discover that obscurity knows every corner of the city. True, 'they' didn't say it would be easy to 'make it' within the NYC art community -- but 'they' also forget to mention that success can be found elsewhere.
One of the strongest steps toward success that an artist can take is to redefine what success means to himself or herself. Merriam-Webster defines success as 1.) "The accomplishment of an aim or purpose." 2.) "The attainment of popularity or profit." 3.) "A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity." 4.) "The outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims." Did you notice that none of these definitions mentioned "in New York City" -- or any other specific location for that matter? In the end... success is what you make of it -- how you define it for yourself. Success in your own state can be just as meaningful and prosperous as anything you might find in the state of New York.
Having known thousands of artists over the years, I know that an artist can accomplish great things without venturing to New York. I know that an artist can gain a high level of popularity and profit without exhibiting in Chelsea, Manhattan. I know that an artist can attain prosperity without having any New York connections. I know that artists can make a mark on the international stage without New York City. I know that all of this infuriates some haughty NYC gallerists and art critics who think that they are the end all, be all of art in the United States. Point blank -- I know that an artist can 'make it' without New York City -- and dare I say, without the help of NYC art professionals. With all of this in mind, I also know that many artists still cling to the idea that NYC is the end all, be all in regard to success in art.
I know that some of my opinions have gained me the reputation of being a 'dream crusher'. Don’t get me wrong... I love dreamers -- I enjoy observing people seek out what they desire even though the odds are stacked against them. However, at some point, reality knocks on the door. In that sense, I want to see more doers than dreamers. Point blank -- I think most artists could accomplish more for themselves and for the arts within the United States by helping to strengthen their surrounding art community statewide instead of allowing themselves to be enthralled by conditioned 'big city' dreams.
A change in attitude is needed -- and it starts at 'home'.
Take care, Stay true,