26 February 2015

Admiring the art and not the artist

We go to museums. It's one of the primary things travel guides talk to us about seeing when we visit other places. We went to a special art exposition in Madrid and it really juiced up my creativity, but it got me thinking about art and artists.

Museums are a major tourist attraction, right? A suave night out?  How about an art gallery premier or a special art show? We laud art but mostly we laud old art.

I've been plagued with some writer's block on my work-in-progress novel due to some kinks in the plot twists, so I was contemplating the challenge of being and artist and working in obscurity.

No one cheers you on when you drag yourself daily to a blank canvas or a blank page.  Reviewers often don't give you any attaboys even after the work is done.

In fact, people sometimes see you as eccentric, odd, a dreamer or maybe creative if they're being generous. No one thinks of you as rich. Mostly because you're not. No one thinks of you as a potential gold mine. Mostly because chances are you're not going to be.

As a young person who wanted to write novels, I had the implied and sometimes direct comment/advice, "Yes, but what will you DO? How will you make money?" Sadly, it has been true that I needed another profession besides novel writing to make a living. Fortunately, it has always related to writing and I've enjoyed it.

The truth is that no one looks at a young person who says they want to be a poet, an artist, or a writer and simply says, good. Not even me, truth be told. I'm full of personal advice like everyone.

Society is full of a je ne sais quoi regarding artists - not the art itself.  A faint disdain of the wholehearted pursuit of an artistic endeavor as a life exists. The implication is, "It's okay for a hobby but you know you have to have a real job."

Likely the real job is true, but does anyone decide to study business and the people respond, "Just don't try to go into business yourself, that's unrealistic and statistically likely to fail."

So on the one hand, people are encouraged to go to museums and art shows by society, but the not spoken reality is that we don't really respect the artists that might be the next Van Gogh or Andy Warhol in the making. I hope it's changing but I'm not sure.

In the late 1800s, the new art movement was happening that was derided by the press and the creators were mostly paupers: impressionism, my favorite. Then later cubists etc. etc. It just doesn't pay (pun intended) to be an artist.  Emotionally or financially. Most those artists who go on to be featured in museums seem to have died in poverty and sometimes obscurity.

It just struck me recently as fascinating why we both worship at the museums of art and look down on the present day artists or scoff at their efforts despite what history tells us on the walls of the famous museums today. Am I wrong?