Three artists walk into a gallery. The first artist says to the other two artists… I know it would all make for a good joke but it’s all in a day’s work. Last Friday, I went up to NYC with two artist friends to be inspired, get some answers and hopefully find some opportunities, a.k.a. representation. No, that’s not the joke, that’s the work part. It is harder than it sounds. In hindsight, I’m thinking the best part of the trip was the two-hour car ride. We discussed art; what it is, what we do, who looks at it, are we as good as we think we are and it ended with a small debate on where the art world is going. The wiser, dare I say, older sage of the group shared his view that it was on the path of exploitation. He stated that we had ventured so far as artists, that we had reached the end of exploitation and it would have to change because we had exploited all we could exploit. I, being the youngest of the group and driving, had control of the ship and our destiny…at least it’s safety until we would arrive in NYC. I exclaimed that exploitation was not at its end for Rubens had been exploiting the art market with prints for a long time. Spin it however you want but isn’t art history all exploitation? My point was made and my job was done. We arrived safely and I parked the minivan leaving the keys to our ship with some young man in the basement of a $200 million high-rise. Yes, we had made it to NYC.
We crossed 9th Avenue and worked our way through the 20th Street blocks of Chelsea in search of inspiration, answers and work. Each gallery could be described as heaven; bright white walls reflecting the light from above and a St. Peter behind every door seated at a desk dressed in a black turtleneck hovering over an Apple computer. I just assume he is checking his list to make sure everyone’s name is on it. I assume he is expecting us because he never looked up for identification. We entered and looked around… nope, definitely not heaven. I’m still not sure what gallery it was or what the show was but, it made me think that painting is dead and exploitation is up and alive. The show wasn’t living up to the expectations of old masters where flesh was beautiful. Don’t get ne wrong, I’m not a prude but I saw more flesh and stray hairs than I needed to. It seems like all this can’t be captured with paint anymore so the artists decide to capture the whole thing on video. I had to quickly leave the dark room in the corner for I feared it would appear on my cable bill.
Mary Boone seemed like the only gallery we visited that had paint applied to canvas. Of course the artist that applied it was up for debate. I enjoyed the brush-strokes and grandeur of the imagery. My other musketeers thought otherwise. I stayed a few minutes longer to soak in a bit of inspiration. “If I could just mimic a few of the color choices in my studio”, I thought. We continued our pilgrimage to many of the white walled storefronts looking for answers and work. We came upon a wooden door with a red awning. This was our answer. The sign on the door said, “Drunken Horse.” Three artists walked into a bar and the bartender said, “Why the long face?” We all smiled at each other and thought it was just a day’s work.