In Art News
I Hate You, Money, and You're Driving the Arts
You know what I'm tired of? I'm tired of people making decisions based on economics, and then denying that those decisions are about economics.
1. When Western Bridge announced it will be closing in spring 2012, it was a decision based on the way the True family business is run. It was a business decision. But I was scolded for expressing sadness about its closing. Yet I still—and even more so upon reflection—don't buy the idea that this closure is a good thing for art in Seattle. I think it's a bad thing.
2. In a meeting at The Stranger's offices last week, the mayor said that he'll spend the next couple of weeks considering the proposal for the Chihuly museum. With a few lone exceptions, the arts community in this city has expressed that it does not want a Chihuly museum. In fact, there's a meeting this Thursday at 4Culture, during Art Walk, in support of the Open Platform/KEXP proposal. The arts community does not support this "arts" project.
What the Chihuly museum has going for it is money. So Mr. Mayor: If pretty much the entire environmental community told you that a proposed environmental project was bullshit, would you do it anyway to get some money for the city? And how about if it were about to become the most prominent single-subject environmental tourist attraction in the city of Seattle? That is the question you have to ask yourself, Mr. Mayor.
3. Lawrimore Project has downsized from its original iteration on Airport Way South. It is now, at least for a little while, in a storefront space in Occidental Square that looks like a small office. There is no reception desk, only a bench where Scott Lawrimore sits. Recently I overheard him talking with an artist about the new space and saying, "Here, you have to confront the art, because it's right in front of you." That is true: There are not the distractions there were in the other space, which was a very large and very colorful place. But at the same time, this feels like a way station. It's hard to believe that the downsizing wasn't largely driven by economic considerations, and the jury is still out on how smallness can equal interesting in the context of Lawrimore's project. I am, as always, all eyes—I just refuse to throw a celebration party at the closure of a space I loved.
4. I miss Howard House. That was an economic decision: He didn't sell enough art. Period. I miss Crawl Space. That was an economic decision in that the artists involved were tired of trying to find money rather than working on their art.
Good things might come—hell, good things will come and already are: TARL, the Hedreen Gallery, Pun(c)tuation. But good things have been lost, too, and will continue to be lost. At least let's be honest that money drives the arts. We already know from years of formal public planning that what the public wants from Seattle Center is more green—and that the only green the Chihuly museum will add to Seattle Center is dollars.