Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Artists leave something behind when they go...

Maurice Sendak left us this week and I listened to him being interviewed on NPR this afternoon. I was spell-bound by his insights and deeply emotional responses to the world around him. Children at a book signing? He stopped signing their books because he realized he was scaring them. They were told not to write in books and they, essentially didn't want him to mess them up. The old man was taking their books away from them. He understood what it was like to be a child long after most of the rest of us detached ourselves from that concept and moved on to the scary world of adulthood.

Sendak had an imagination that connected with kids. He knew how to reach them and I am so very sorry that he is gone. He was only 83! I would have liked to learn that he had lived to at least 100. Think of how many more books we might have had. I could never get enough of his wild imagination.

Another artist -- Thomas Kinkade -- also died this week. Of the two, this turned out to be the more tragic. He was only 54 and it was a combination of alcohol and Valium that destroyed him. I had always assumed that Kinkade was more of a businessman than an artist, that he had designed his work to hit sentimental collectors in the gut and make himself a fortune. Apparently, that was doing him a huge injustice. It has been said that he was deeply hurt by critics remarks about his paintings. Of course, it might not have been so bitter had his business not gone bankrupt -- it would have at least proved that his fans still cared -- that they were still buying his Points of Life.

Sorry, Thomas.  Goodbye Maurice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Art and Artists on the Cheap

Taking advantage of artists and their passion for what they do is at the level of pitiful. There is a little advertised program run through the U.S. Department of State called Art Embassies. The ambassadors and curators attached to the embassies put up exhibitions and sponsor programs to bring a few artists overseas to meet and greet. Do they pay the artists for their work? No, how could we expect them to do that? The embassies also "borrow" artists' work for -- maybe -- three years at a time. This is the shocker: They don't even pay the artist a rental fee. If it were a sofa instead of an original creation, of course they would have to pay for it. No one expects a sofa for free! Not unless it's being thrown out. Original art, oh, that's different. Sure.

Just a few minutes ago, I saw an email from a local artist. I won't give you her name because...well...this is a small town. She is advertising for interns -- people to work for free. Again, that really irritating word. However, to apply for the non-paying jobs -- get this -- there is a $10 fee! Wow!

I don't even want to get knee-deep into the subject of artists being asked to donate their work to charity auctions. How glamorous to have the artists there in person, too. They are teased with the possibility of getting "known." Been there, done that, won't do it again. Years ago, an art teacher told me to NEVER give away my work for free. Anything given for free is considered of little or no value. True.