Monday, June 20, 2011

Wherein I Whine a Bit


I’ve been busy. That’s the refrain I hear myself saying again and again to friends and family, to coworkers and even possible collaborators. And it is true, since November 2010, I’ve been focused on making my own artwork.

It’s not always good work, but I do keep plugging away.

And as I work, and am involved in a very different way with the arts scene here in Jacksonville, I’ve come to realize that while it is important to create and sustain a community here in Jacksonville, I’m also very interested in what is happening in other places. How as cities redirect their thinking on everything from “Green Living,” to public transportation it can affect a wholesale change in a city’s attitude towards itself, and by extension, art and culture. That is to say: pressure and change from within and without.

In the past couple of years, as blogs have declined (hello Facebook ascendancy) there seems to be a movement away from the introspection and reflective practices of blogging (ok yes, navel gazing to a certain extent) to a slightly shrill, cacophonous wail that goes something like: “look at me, come to my event.” It’s awfully exhausting.

This hyper-shrill, supercharged involvement with everything all the time does a disservice to art and artists. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love a city that embraces and supports the arts in a more conceptual and surprising not to mention tangibly fiscal way, but rather, that as artists, thinkers, and makers of things we have a responsibility to honor what we do. To honor the time and commitment to making a piece of work, and not to give it away—to treat the work seriously and still smile at the self. It is not easy, people can be persuasive and honeyed tongues have a way of convincing one that their agenda is best for all even (especially) when it is not.

I also am a huge supporter of finding the ways in which a city is different, and making those work, rather than retrofitting another city’s idea for our own. In the end, artists need to strive for balance: work in the studio, engagement with the community; but only when that engagement is beneficial, not at the cost of the artist.

Do the work, and everything else comes...

7 comments:

draper said...

Brilliant!

Chaz said...

Well said. You hit the target, Madeleine!

madeleine said...

thank you both! I just really want to see artists making work, and being a part of a larger community that is interested, if not in art, than in a better (in our case) functioning city.

christina said...

Wow! Can I hire you? Oh, I already did! Yay for me and for everyone we serve.... So fabulous, you divine poet.

Lesley Frenz said...

Great thoughts, Madeline! One of my favorite things about our travelling has been the opportunity to see how each city's artistic culture differs.

madeleine said...

CF- you are hilarious!

LF- I know! I think cities that are successful as "arts cities" or destinations have somehow capitalized on those aspects of their community that make it different and special, and built upon that. In many of those places, its not just the creative community doing things, but it is a commitment on the part of most citizen (superstructure down) to improve many different facets of the city.

I mean, imagine if the St Johns was clean, if Jax had reliable public transpo, and a public art initiative impacting unexpected places...

candace fasano said...

so well said madeleine.