The Third Seattle Art Fair Was the Biggest One Yet - Here’s What the Dealers Had to Say

Comments

1
Twice in a row you give the paintings of (talented) amateur Kurt Cobain top billing over the professionals because he's a celebrity outside of the visual art world -- right? Yeah, I thought so.
2
@1 Leading with the Kurt Cobain photo was an editorial choice, but I stand by it. The Stranger is an alt-weekly with a broad readership so yes, I do try to make my writing here accessible to a general audience (i.e. not too elitist).

Beyond that, I'm not sure how you calculate who gets to be considered a "professional" artist and who is considered an "amateur." An MFA? Engaging with the gallery system? Cobain was 27 when he died and this painting was featured on the cover of an album that sold more than a million units...that's actually pretty dang professional if you ask me.
3
@2: By "editorial choice," do you mean that it was not your choice?
I don't think I expressed any opinion about your writing, but I think you are right to try to make it accessible.
Yes, an MFA and engaging in the gallery system are criteria that might help define an artist as a professional, though neither is entirely necessary. I think
professionalism and artistic maturity are acheived mainly through a lot of hard work. IMO, Cobain was talented but his painting never got to a professional level, thought it might have if he had lived to do a lot more work.
I don't think your final argument makes much sense. The fact that he put his artwork on the cover of his successful album makes him a peer of Cat Stevens or Joni Mitchell, but it does not make him a professional level painter.
Going back to the accessibility thing: you can make real art accessible to a general, non-elitist audience by saying what's great about it and helping your audience to look hard and understand what's they are looking at. Celebrity and popular music might trigger some initial interest, but they are unnecessary, and ultimately counterproductive.

4
Yes, by "editorial choice" I mean that photo was selected by an editor.

As for Joni Mitchell, she has said “I’m a painter first, and a musician second," and called herself a "painter derailed by circumstance." She hasn't shown much, but she's made hundreds of paintings over the past 50 years and claims that for her, "painting is obsessive," often becoming a higher priority than music.

I once happened on an exhibition of her video art at a gallery in Toronto and it did not occur to me to announce that it wasn't "real art," although her celebrity would have made it easy for me to dismiss her, if dismissing art without trying to see it on its own terms is what I was trying to do. (The videos were underwhelming, but it was their heavy-handedness that weighed them down, not who Joni Mitchell happens to be or how much time she's spent honing her craft.)

Sorry, I just can't follow you down this "real art" / not "real art" dichotomy. I love conceptual art, and I love thrift store paintings. Many of my favorite artists may be considered "art brut," which only exists as a category because it transcends pre-existing constructs like "skill" and "value" we tend to bring with us when we view objects of cultural production.
5
I never said "not real art, nor did suggest any such dichotomy. When you are writing about art, real art is whatever you choose as your subject. Let's forget that I said anything about "real art."
Joni Mitchell's paintings get attention from the art world ONLY because she is a music star. Cobain's paintings get attention from the art world ONLY because he was a music star. And Cobain got top billing from The Stranger ONLY because he was a music star.
So you love art brut and thrift store paintings. Now you are on it. Show us some examples. Tell us why you love them. Help us see what's wonderful about them. There's so much great art out there. Write about it.

The Stranger already writes masses of material about popular music. So when there's a big show featuring other kinds of art, they find the one rock star and go, "Ooh, look, a rock star!" You can do better.