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A Local Apprentice Image Maker Scolds the College Art Professors

avariceartsballs

“If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Arrogance In The Arts, I Would Have Stayed On The Floor And Played With My Balls” 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″

My gut feeling (which is often art) tells me day after day that many, maybe even most, college and university art professors are not artists themselves, although they craft pictures or statues from time to time. They are more like non-believing ministers of obsolete dogma in a practically defunct religion, like radio preachers, pretending a common and vogue Christianity to make a living. I would feel sorry for them if so many weren’t so damn arrogant.

But is it truly arrogance?

I guess not. Though sometimes their mannerisms come off that way. Can creative people even be arrogant? We are often self-loathing, sure, which can breed a tendency to be catty in some social situations. I used to think that my local college art professors stayed away from my painting exhibitions because they were arrogant. Yet lately, after much thought about it, I believe it’s carefulness born from avarice which goads most of them to ignore my invitations so rudely and so often. And “carefulness born from avarice” can never be art. At least “new” or “relatively inspiring” art. Art must bring people together. Therefore college art professors are not artists, per se, but rather, as any institutional job description would verify, players of art. They get paid to teach, some even by example. They may make wonderful images, sculpt beauty, perhaps manipulate digital media with more attention than ancient monks manuscripted. But none of these makers of things can be artists until they bring people together. Not by the force of tuition. Rather, through the oftentimes painful expression of their own intuition.

In my small city we have an art guild renamed an association some time ago. It is supported through yearly memberships and a rent-free grant from the mayor and city council.  Every spring for the past twenty years it has hosted a juried exhibition open to entries from anyone living in New York State over 18 years of age, provided he or she thinks the art worth a $30 entry fee. There are perhaps 30 fine and digital art professors employed at the college. Usually the juror is selected from this learned group—most are credentialed with terminal degrees earned in their mid to late twenties. The juror gets paid a modest stipend, judges the work to be entered, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Best in Show, and up to five Honorable Mentions, all receiving small cash award, starting at $300 for Best of Show.

Rarely do these professors themselves submit their work to be judged. Though several give direction to their students to apply.

Now why is that?

Because few of them are artists. Anyone can make art—kids, students, moms, dads, celebrities, even cats I hear. But artists must bring people together. Even if it’s just a group of other image-makers in a barroom or a poker game. The writer in isolation can make art if the work completed gives meaning in expression to other human beings. But if he doesn’t get out once in a while with other expressive writers to be human among them, then nada as an artist. Art must bring people together.

I believe that many of these professors apply for grants and/ or exhibition opportunity from international institutions, in order to build resume and chalk up apparently concrete accolades from the most abstract and subjective of endeavors. If life looks good on paper, a better retirement package ensues. A big thing among art teachers these days is to “go on residency”, and institutional applications want “professional” credentials listed, a several page C.V. (stands for “critic’s viciousness”), because institutions cannot judge originality and meaning in expression—only individual people(s) can do that. I think the institution of college or university stifles originality across all disciplines, as a matter of fact, but when it makes sensitive, creative people (would-be artists) into ladder-climbing automatons, then that distortion of art and art principle cannot help but be passed down to pupils.

How dare these professors send their students to have work judged locally, and yet not join the same game out of mutual respect!

And yet, I still do not think it is born from arrogance.

Maybe fear. What if the student won Best in Show? How would that reflect on the professor’s residency application? I’d say very well if said professor was applying for a residency in the art of pedagogy.

Another point to be made. Art professors are not artists until they show their art at every   possible opportunity. Especially locally. My goodness, where do these people think they live? In Brussels?  Melbourne, Australia? A 3-month long prestigious art retreat in Appalachia?

No, of course not. They live and buy eggs at the same Byrne Dairy I do. And yes, I even send my exhibition invites to the Byrne Dairy cashiers, yet they too never attend. At least I don’t expect them to stop by and look at my paintings. But I do expect those who teach art to support image-makers like me who, whether their position in life admits it or not, secures their jobs into the next generation. Artists make the art history of the future. I bring people together. I create hard copies of expression and show them to the local clan. In an ancient representation of clan I would be considered clan artist. Those making private cave drawings to be seen first by other clans of far away would be shunned like bad medicine and banished from the clan.

I could go on. I want to make it clear to the art faculty at my local college. Shame on you! When we cold share a beer, listen to some music, discuss art and art artifice like human beings gathered together at local exhibition parties, very few of you are anywhere to be seen. Off building resumes that nobody but you give a damn about. Your students will be showing their work, and the work of some artists like me will be there too. I hope your students detect the irony, and take a path less traveled by, to become artists themselves one day. I believe college art professors could make a revolutionary change to the face of any modern art. For god’s sake man, you all have summer’s off and can afford materials! However not one clan in Melbourne, Australia, or Prague, Czechoslovakia  wants to see anything you do. Their institution might, but everyone outside of it knows that the institution is very broken, and that up to this point, a whole heck of a lot of art is created in universities, but very few artists are made there.

 

P.S. Here is another read about the broken art university system. It is what it is.

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A Local Apprentice Image Maker Scolds the College Art Professors

avariceartsballs

“If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Arrogance In The Arts, I Would Have Stayed On The Floor And Played With My Balls” 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″

My gut feeling (which is often art) tells me day after day that many, maybe even most, college and university art professors are not artists themselves, although they craft pictures or statues from time to time. They are more like non-believing ministers of obsolete dogma in a practically defunct religion, like radio preachers, pretending a common and vogue Christianity to make a living. I would feel sorry for them if so many weren’t so damn arrogant.

But is it truly arrogance?

I guess not. Though sometimes their mannerisms come off that way. Can creative people even be arrogant? We are often self-loathing, sure, which can breed a tendency to be catty in some social situations. I used to think that my local college art professors stayed away from my painting exhibitions because they were arrogant. Yet lately, after much thought about it, I believe it’s carefulness born from avarice which goads most of them to ignore my invitations so rudely and so often. And “carefulness born from avarice” can never be art. At least “new” or “relatively inspiring” art. Art must bring people together. Therefore college art professors are not artists, per se, but rather, as any institutional job description would verify, players of art. They get paid to teach, some even by example. They may make wonderful images, sculpt beauty, perhaps manipulate digital media with more attention than ancient monks manuscripted. But none of these makers of things can be artists until they bring people together. Not by the force of tuition. Rather, through the oftentimes painful expression of their own intuition.

In my small city we have an art guild renamed an association some time ago. It is supported through yearly memberships and a rent-free grant from the mayor and city council.  Every spring for the past twenty years it has hosted a juried exhibition open to entries from anyone living in New York State over 18 years of age, provided he or she thinks the art worth a $30 entry fee. There are perhaps 30 fine and digital art professors employed at the college. Usually the juror is selected from this learned group—most are credentialed with terminal degrees earned in their mid to late twenties. The juror gets paid a modest stipend, judges the work to be entered, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Best in Show, and up to five Honorable Mentions, all receiving small cash award, starting at $300 for Best of Show.

Rarely do these professors themselves submit their work to be judged. Though several give direction to their students to apply.

Now why is that?

Because few of them are artists. Anyone can make art—kids, students, moms, dads, celebrities, even cats I hear. But artists must bring people together. Even if it’s just a group of other image-makers in a barroom or a poker game. The writer in isolation can make art if the work completed gives meaning in expression to other human beings. But if he doesn’t get out once in a while with other expressive writers to be human among them, then nada as an artist. Art must bring people together.

I believe that many of these professors apply for grants and/ or exhibition opportunity from international institutions, in order to build resume and chalk up apparently concrete accolades from the most abstract and subjective of endeavors. If life looks good on paper, a better retirement package ensues. A big thing among art teachers these days is to “go on residency”, and institutional applications want “professional” credentials listed, a several page C.V. (stands for “critic’s viciousness”), because institutions cannot judge originality and meaning in expression—only individual people(s) can do that. I think the institution of college or university stifles originality across all disciplines, as a matter of fact, but when it makes sensitive, creative people (would-be artists) into ladder-climbing automatons, then that distortion of art and art principle cannot help but be passed down to pupils.

How dare these professors send their students to have work judged locally, and yet not join the same game out of mutual respect!

And yet, I still do not think it is born from arrogance.

Maybe fear. What if the student won Best in Show? How would that reflect on the professor’s residency application? I’d say very well if said professor was applying for a residency in the art of pedagogy.

Another point to be made. Art professors are not artists until they show their art at every   possible opportunity. Especially locally. My goodness, where do these people think they live? In Brussels?  Melbourne, Australia? A 3-month long prestigious art retreat in Appalachia?

No, of course not. They live and buy eggs at the same Byrne Dairy I do. And yes, I even send my exhibition invites to the Byrne Dairy cashiers, yet they too never attend. At least I don’t expect them to stop by and look at my paintings. But I do expect those who teach art to support image-makers like me who, whether their position in life admits it or not, secures their jobs into the next generation. Artists make the art history of the future. I bring people together. I create hard copies of expression and show them to the local clan. In an ancient representation of clan I would be considered clan artist. Those making private cave drawings to be seen first by other clans of far away would be shunned like bad medicine and banished from the clan.

I could go on. I want to make it clear to the art faculty at my local college. Shame on you! When we cold share a beer, listen to some music, discuss art and art artifice like human beings gathered together at local exhibition parties, very few of you are anywhere to be seen. Off building resumes that nobody but you give a damn about. Your students will be showing their work, and the work of some artists like me will be there too. I hope your students detect the irony, and take a path less traveled by, to become artists themselves one day. I believe college art professors could make a revolutionary change to the face of any modern art. For god’s sake man, you all have summer’s off and can afford materials! However not one clan in Melbourne, Australia, or Prague, Czechoslovakia  wants to see anything you do. Their institution might, but everyone outside of it knows that the institution is very broken, and that up to this point, a whole heck of a lot of art is created in universities, but very few artists are made there.

To readers and artists living among the New York State Clan, you have until Monday night to apply to the Lakeside Statewide 20th annual juried art exhibition. Please pass it along to friends and family. Some of you must know at least one black sheep non-conformist.

I make the same call to the local college art professors. Let’s see whatcha got!

P.S. Here is another read about the broken art university system. It is what it is.

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My Teeth Overhear Their Fate From The Periodontist

Teeth!

Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16

I guess teeth have ears. They should have brains enough to know I can’t afford to lose them. Boys, don’t worry. I will go for the deep cleaning, gargle with salt water 3X daily, and apply a paste of garlic and milk along my gum line. Yes I admit, I made a painting to remember you by, just in case my ship comes in.

ThroopThisWeek01.16.15

A week of painting without words, January 9-16, 2015

Now, about that ship…

I am looking for advice from other producers of original material. How do you convert your works to currency? I am in earnest. The Internet has not helped, neither has peddling colored canvases and books in my neighborhood. I have had many solo shows, lawn sales, Internet posts. Nothing. Nada times nothing. For instance, last year I published a book that even my—wait… Not true. My mother did buy it. But she was the only one.

It’s not like I overprice my work. $14 for a book is not exorbitant. Last night I paid that much for red curry. And it’s already gone. Geeze, I didn’t even like it enough to keep it. Couldn’t tell you if there was basil in it or not. And it’s not like I had to have the curry because it’s food, and need it to stay alive. A foraged apple would have sufficed. Or I could have refrained from dinner, saved gaining a half pound, and awoke this morning able to button my jeans.

I have theories about this starving artist dilemma. Many spring from the field of social psychology. Here is one:

None of us are any good until many of us say that some of us are.

Each failed writer or painter needs, more than talent, a promoter with Biblical outreach. If Beyoncé (accent on the e) wore the teeth image above to don her Super Bowl outfit, I would be rich and known richly by morning. Target would call for a wall hanging product line, and the New York Times would best seller me. If Oprah got caught reading less trite and inane crap, maybe some of you talented writers could afford rent as well as dinner, and miraculously the Media-CIA Industrial Complex would suffer sinking ratings of its perpetually popular “Let’s Dumb Down America”.

All fine literature, music, and art is relegated to obscurity if not considered salable by a connected media entity. Here is a rejection from a book publisher I received a couple weeks ago, followed by a quote from Henry Miller who wrote meaningful desk chair philosophy at a time when art was the artist, and not bullhorn announcements from highrise promoters about the “state of the art money”.

You do seem passionate and, as you wrote, “determined,” so I’m sure this won’t stop you at all from continuing your search for a publisher. I would like to suggest you consider self-publishing this manuscript. Just from reading the first sample parts you sent me I can tell you it’s going to be a very difficult sell to any indie press. Forget about even going to the majors via a literary agent. It occupies too much headspace, in my opinion, and while that’s not a bad thing at all for some readers who enjoy that sort of thing, commercially this would be extremely difficult to convince anyone to spend any money on reading your words. Even if you have some clout due to your painting, it is pretty thick stuff to get into and stay into. I don’t mean this to sound mean at all. I just feel that this is the kind of book that may have a life as a self-published work. Save yourself the time and trouble of querying anyone else and publish it yourself, then I would suggest perhaps focus more on the marketing end of the book rather than getting one of us snobby publishers to approve it lol. I hope you’ll agree.

A nice, honest rejection. I agree with him. I prefer to self-publish. But to make me a marketer of my own work is like asking a corn farmer to peddle boil-in-a-bag on the street corner. Doomed to failure before the manure is spread.

My reply:

Thank you for a fast response and helpful criticism. Self publishing is the right way to go. Whitman peddled “Leaves of Grass” door-to-door, and look where that got him! No one then (or today) would publish Whitman’s work to make a living. For me, it has become some personal badge of honor to be an unread writer. Like threshing wheat over a storm water grate. Very nothing, and yet some thing very good too.
Just doesn’t pay the bills.

 

Here is Henry Miller:

Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they?  They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out. Or, perhaps like Socrates, I would walk into the market place and spill my seed on the ground. I would certainly never think to write a book or paint a picture or compose a piece of music. For whom? Who beside a handful of desperate souls can recognize a work of art? What can you do with yourself if your life is dedicated to beauty? Do you want to face the prospect of spending the rest of your life in a straight-jacket?

I suggest all writers to read Miller, as Miller wanted to be read. Read me first. He’d dead. And I could use an art-paid-for loaf of bread.

Here it is! The great book:

December-Cover

 

 

These Nights Light An Oyster Cracker Moon Over A Red Tide Chowder

These Nights Light An Oyster Cracker Moon Over A Red Tide Chowder

This morning I shall feed two birds with one oyster cracker. The story below is about a time during a past Christmas season when I went out peddling my own books. My wife and I had a twelve-year old and a yearling to wow with Christmas gifts, but neither dime nor dollar in the money bowl. Yesterday we received another solicitation from Chase in the mail telling us to open a checking account with their bank. They will deposit $200.00 as a free gift. That is one hell of an oyster cracker!

Chase as door to door salesman. Peddling other people’s money, gobs of it, for some nefarious reason of which we can only guess. “Here’s 200 clams. Not a painting. No book to read. Direct deposit with us and you’ll be able to stuff a whole tub with oyster crackers.” Why their offer grinds at my insides, I don’t know. Perhaps my success at repetitive failure from hawking creative writing and painting has finally caught up with my mortal pride. Yesterday I wrote about how local artists everywhere need to boycott galleries, museums, any third party advocates who claim the secret knowledge of appraising art for the people. They have taken away our right to peddle, to personalize, to self-portraiture. The middlemen of art have taught the people to beware of the unrepresented artist. He can’t have anything you want. He’s up to no good, and lacking any real talent, we can assure you…

I need to connect to people. I don’t want Rita the gallerist. Neither does Rita. Rita needs Rita and the painter gives a piece of himself to Rita to help Rita find Rita. How much is that worth? Not a penny more than a gifted $200.00 deposit and a new pleather checkbook from the galleries of JP Morgan Chase. Hurry, this offer wont’s last. We’ll hold death’s door open to the working class, but only for a limited time.

We will turn down Chase’s money offer. The company will not suffer. No top executive will marvel at the surprisingly high cost of rope at his neighborhood home center after bombing another marketing plan. I will never again peddle my books to the middleman. He is just that. A “middle” man. Keeping the “low” low. False praising the “high” highly. The middle secures more antidepressants, and easy admittance into the chowder house of our choice. Hence the painting above and the story below.

Rather Have An Oyster Cracker?

Two thousand-thirty-five years ago Christ was born in the land without snow. He was a dark-haired baby who didn’t wear diapers. Christ was a baby and all babies live peace. Besides hitting his mother when he wanted her to play with him, he was very peaceful. Kings brought the divine child presents, not one of them a small plastic toy phone. A variety of presents, but not one that a child would want to play with. Frankincense and Mir? Don’t ask. Just receive and smile, smile and receive, and make sure the gifts are big enough not to get lodged in your new savior’s throat.
This Christmas more than one person will drive forty miles to purchase a popular candle holder. When my oldest daughter was very young, she was taught to give nothing besides love and attention, and occasional crayon drawings of devotion. Slowly, gradually, over the past couple years, Santa Claus has left her heart. It is only a matter of time before Christmas makes her deeply and hopelessly frazzled like the rest of us.
This Christmas I am depressed. I’m out of the kind of work that writes you a check for the holidays. Joy has left my body. I have no way of knowing if I will ever be able to help support this family financially. And because of the money problem, I start to wonder if I am husband or father, or anything good at all. Money is the sickness of our hearts. It is the sole cause of any depression that exists where no tragedy has occurred. Because of money I did something yesterday that I thought I would never do. I went out peddling my books all over three counties. I took a day to do it. I had to ask my wife to take off from work. I borrowed a car. It had an American flag attached out the back window waving “I am tasteless” to the cold, bright December morning.
I drove to every bookstore and library in Central New York. By the end of the day I sold to three stores and involuntarily donated one set to a library. I walked up to the head librarian embracing my precious books. He received me quite cordially. Of course then I expected him to escort me over to the money box and pay me for my efforts. No way. Patiently I waited while he talked about the lack of arts and culture in the Mohawk Valley. “One bookstore,” he complained, “in a county of 250,000. Can you believe it?” Yes I thought, but here, let me put my hand out again, palm up, and hope that you get the hint. Nothing. Instead he stepped into his office and came out grasping the local swap sheet, suggesting that I advertise my books with the used cars. Then he offered me a book signing, but recanted, saying that in the past those only worked well with children’s book authors. Then I imagined that he would prefer to ram the heel of his boot against my skull rather than pay me the paltry sum necessary to justify my existence as a writer. Culture or no culture. I should have killed him on the spot and fished through the petty cash box myself.
Now the thought of peddling my own books was and is a personal nightmare. Total desperation made me do it. Man will succumb to anything when the money is tight enough to cheat his own children. Except work at a dollar store. No. I won’t do that. So what if an offer has already been made…? No. I will very calmly open up an artery before dehumanizing my existence at a dollar store.
After a day driving in and around Syracuse New York, I discovered the worst hole in all of the world to raise a sane family. You drive around for a full morning in it, penniless, in a borrowed car and see for yourself what an incurably sick and twisted, groaning hell of a city it is. Two of the bookstores on my list of ten were abandoned. Two more sold only pornography. Two were consignment, and the second one of these wouldn’t take my books unless he could get the whole set for fifteen cents.
Yesterday I lived the life of a traveling salesman in America. Except I was selling a product which I made myself. Of course one couldn’t eat my product—strike one. Nor was it something quite like holly leaf wrapping paper sold at a huge profit for charity. Strike two. Encyclopedias might have brought better luck, if I went door-to-door with the volumes I researched, wrote and published myself. Strike three and out. Actually lying prone in a basement beside a gassed Willy Loman.
A few years ago my chef left the restaurant business to peddle oyster crackers for an upstart company. Up before dawn, he drove his car over two hundred miles every day except Sunday. Boxes of light, airy oyster crackers stacked to the ceiling in the back seat. He peddled throughout a business world that he convinced himself was in sufficient need of better oyster crackers. The best oyster crackers. In fact, over time, he couldn’t understand how restaurants stayed in business without his delicious oyster crackers in stock.
Once he got me to try them, while he stood at my side waiting for affirmation. Holy God, the ironic, blind arrogance of despair! Every time he said “oyster cracker” I envisioned spiraling rounds of slow-motion bullets busting out the back of my skull. His behavior was beyond delusional. It was insane, maniacal—an oyster cracker… Jesus Christ! Yet I played along, chewing for his benefit, although at the time I felt like striking him down and stuffing his mouth full of oyster crackers. He wanted to sell them to everyone. He was preaching the Word about oyster crackers. Each book that I wrote and got published, no matter what value its content, was written with the dreams that appear while walking alone at night in fear of death. I collaborated and created with the body which houses my soul. It was all that I had then, and all I have now. For $12.95 I will share its story with you. That’s all the Word I know.
You say sure? As long as it’s told over a bowl of steaming hot seafood chowder? Fine. Just try to ignore the steady stream of bullets drilling holes into my head. Promise me you’ll crush those crackers quickly and take the soup onto your lap. I’m spilling blood.
Why this staunch, masochistic refusal to become equally excited over my own creations? How can man live a whole life never to stand up and lustily sing his own praises? Even if he foolishly sings to some greater power beyond him… It has got to be more stimulating than worshiping oyster crackers, right? I mean, how could my old boss become the apostle of a dry cracker company without having committed suicide yet? Hasn’t he already gone way beyond the point of just considering it? Unless the crackers are laced with enough extra preservatives to fool the rest of us into thinking that he lives, I tell you that he must be dead already. A soul must die each moment an oyster cracker gets believed in.
To tell the truth, I hate my books. I despise them. I hate the product that I wanted to sell yesterday, during a weak moment when I thought my children needed toys for Christmas.
Privately, however, I intend to sing my praises while the rest of mankind watches me bleed. But I won’t be singing for your money. I will sing, but know that I know it’s not what I write into books that makes me praise-worthy. I am 100% man. I am a man. My blood heats up my wonder and desire. I can be squeezed until warm blood spurts out of my pours. But I will continue to sing while bleeding. I believe that every man’s blood is my own blood. And every man should sing the song of watching it flow. I am singing for me and for you, even if I know that you, if given the choice, would choose a low-sodium oyster cracker over the intactness of my blood and its systems. Translated into easy, easy easy…
You suck
my blood.
But would rather have an oyster cracker.

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Cookbook For The Poor

Leopold Courting Rose

Moonlight in Groundspruce Woods