“To be an artist, you might as well tattoo ‘Shithead’ on your forehead. You’re always in a position where you have to explain who you are and what you do and why you do what you do. It’s a weird job to have in the long haul.”
- Seattle artist Dan Webb
Dan W. was spouting quotable phrases left and right. Jen Graves is really charming. (As the only paid art critic in town, it would be easy for a lot of people to hate her; but when you’re in a room with her, you can’t help but love her.) It was a rousing evening. There was a lot on the table! I think all we really did was get all the issues on the table, and then look at them. I could talk about this stuff for days.
Is there such a thing as a Seattle Artist? If we entertained the notion that there were such a thing, what would s/he look like? Dan W. offered that Seattle artists might be more sincere than your average artist.
Stephen Lyons from Platform made a kind of squirmy (like, eww) movement when he said “sincere,” saying usage of the word made him uncomfortable in the context of contemporary art.
Jen G. talked about how Vancouver artists seem to reference their own city’s art history in a productive way, whereas American artists seem to forget where they came from. (I’d say this is true on the whole– not just with art.)
This begs the question: Do artists working in Seattle need to fashion themselves as Seattle Artists?
In my opinion, no. I think we need to make ourselves international artists. And I guess my answer to the first question is also no; there shouldn’t be such a thing as a Seattle Artist.
I see curators as having the opportunity to frame art and conversations in such a way that poses questions surrounding issues like “regionalism.” (Maybe there is such a thing as a Seattle Curator? Or maybe there isn’t, but there should be?)
One thing that I see as missing in Seattle is thoughtful risk-taking by the major art institutions. It seems that the risk-taking is left to the gallery dealers, with the museums only showing “new” artists after they’ve been around for ten years and recognized by the rest of the world. The way this plays out strikes me as odd, because a gallery dealer has so much more to lose than a non-profit art space. Because the museums don’t take risks, there is a lot of pressure on Seattle galleries to fill the void.
Dan W. talked about how we all need to just accept the American model of the gallery/patron-based art system. He spoke of the specialness of making an object that a [wealthy] individual loves enough to want in his/her own home.
I find specialness there as well; but when there aren’t enough risk-taking galleries and wealthy patrons to go around, what’s left?