Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Giant Baby Syndrome

So got home kind of late, dragged in by a cat, so to speak, and checked my emails via my iPhone to see a Google Alert on the blog (which means a mention of some post here had been put up elsewhere on the world wide web and was now turning up in Google searches, which the Do No Evil folks were kind enough to alert me to because I had signed up for such service). Ok, that's nice, I thought. My blog had been mentioned on another blog (still under development by the looks of it).

The Google Alert text surprised me a bit (in my hazy state), though, as it seemed like a cosmic suggestion for what to call the post I had decided I was going to write today. Like the Internets were reading my mind and recommending headlines...spooky. Google alerts truncated the other blog post's title so it appeared as "Is Giant Baby Syndrome..." and that's all.

Huh! I thought. "Giant Baby Syndrome." Precisely...that's it.

But, let me back up.

A while ago we got the following email about the gallery website contact page:
Dear Mr Winkleman,
On your web site you say whacky stuff like, "Submissions: Please note that we are not currently reviewing artist submissions." Now, why you say dis Mr Winkleman? How us poor artist s'pose to make it in da big city when you blockade'n us. Would you have in mind when yo website might say de opposite of what it say now? Good luck Mr. Winkleman, I still wuv you even though you don't wuv me.
For some reason, this email (that was it, no link to a website, no images, nothing) got under my skin. We get plenty of such inquiries, but I couldn't quite pinpoint what about this one struck me as so annoying. Rather than reply with our standard "We are not sure at this point when we'll be accepting submissions again, but thank you for your interest," I eventually just wrote back what I most wanted to know: "why the baby talk?" Bad choice. That led to another email response with even more infantile blathering which, to be honest, I simply deleted.

Still, the exchange raised three issues that I want to discuss.

First is our current policy of not reviewing submissions, which we simply don't have the time or staff to do at the moment (that may change, but again I'm not sure exactly when). I felt bad enough about this current policy to bring it up to a friend I often go to for advice, and he recommended I at least post some advice for artists looking for gallery representation on the gallery website, which, as it turns out, we have collectively hashed out in the series of posts and comment threads listed here.

So I did that...I added a link to what I consider some of the soundest comments and suggestions for artists seeking to work with a gallery.

But I still couldn't get that email out of my mind...something about it was rattling around in my subconscious. Perhaps, I thought, it was the second issue the email raises for me: "How us poor artist s'pose to make it in da big city when you blockade'n us." Where to begin? With the brutal truth, I guess, which I hope will actually help once you process it, so here it is...what I really want this person to understand:
I don't know you. Your email name was clearly a pseudonym, and so the implication in your statement that my choices for my business need to align with the personal or career goals of a total stranger is so phenomenally self-centered it makes me really dislike you. Our gallery is not funded by the government, we are not a public service, we are not a charity, we are a private business, like every other commercial art gallery, and we don't owe you anything. I find the assertion that I'm responsible for blockading the career of someone who doesn't have enough respect for me or my time to properly introduce himself highly insulting. Seriously, who do you imagine you are to me? I have reviewed the work of hundreds and hundreds of artists, but you feel entitled to some shortcut ahead of everyone else? Based on experience of cold submissions, I'd say that the odds that your work is appropriate for our program are next to nil. Even if it were, though, I already dislike you.

Understand that it's a partnership, not a coronation, that a gallery can provide and go about it professionally.
OK, so perhaps that's a tad too harsh. Presumably, the writer had hoped the email would charm me, not have the opposite effect it actually did.

But the third issue this artist's approach raises is something that can sometimes go horribly wrong in the artist-gallery relationship and expectations from artists not yet in one (but this also often applies to many artists in many contexts). Mind you, this topic is so delicate, I can only address it by calling upon the deepest reserves of diplomatic tact I possess and say ...

"Grow the f*ck up already."

The art world doesn't need your infantilism. It needs your very best artwork. The fact that we have collectively carved out a cultural acceptance that permits you to "play" in your studio doesn't grant you a license to act like a child in other contexts. Dealers and curators and collectors and critics are NOT your parents. They're other adults who are interested in supporting you because of your talent...not because of some twisted, lingering urge to coddle other grown ups. Stop expecting it. It's gross. Artists who treat others in the art world with mutual, professional, adult respect get further in their careers. Figure it out already. Yes there are authority issues at play here...dealers have power (up to a certain point), but it's a power they want to share with talented adults, not have manipulated away from them by temper-tantrum-throwing infants.
OK, so maybe that's just my hangover talking... but I had to get it off my chest.

Carry on.

Labels: art galleries, tough love


Blogger George said...

In poverty you eat it.
With success you delete it.

1/20/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

actually Ed I didn't read it as baby talk.

read this but change "Mr. Winkleman to", "Master"

Now, why you say dis Mr Winkleman? How us poor artist s'pose to make it in da big city

Maybe I interpreted it that way because I spent some time in the South or your negative lead up, and ad in the recent Reid controversy.

Read that way its far more accusatory of the Dealer, Artist relationship, which might be the intent of the email.

1/20/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I had that same thought, Joseph, but the last line suggested baby talk. Altogether, the idea that this artist was powerless in this exchange (until we did something differently on our end) is simply wrongheaded.

1/20/2010 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

It can be annoying for sure, like a song stuck in your head - damn you Rockmaninoff! but usually not worth all the effort, delete and move on.

But if your leaving the gallery on a dark night and you hear someone behind you talking baby talk, push Max in the direction of the voice and run like hell.

1/20/2010 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Sebastian said...

Not sure what joseph is talking about, but I think you handled this with more grace than it deserved, Mr Winkleman.

The artist who contacted you is a tool, and emblematic of many of the ills of the art world, as you've delineated.

Carry on yourself. And thanks.

1/20/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just be happy you don't like in *that* person's world. Sounds like an awful place, full of both a large dose of self-disempowerment and a heinous sense of entitlement all mixed up in a hypocritical mess.

Aside from general advice to tell that emailer that they may require some serious therapy to be a functional adult, it, unfortunately, is not confined to the world of art. Just rarely stated in such a raw form.

1/20/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cat Rocketship said...

I agree, I read it as being written to "Massa".

Either way, it's ridiculous, and speaks to the sense of entitlement artists broadcast. In place of working hard and acting like a professional, some artists think they are special flowers that anyone would be lucky to know, let alone work with.

1/20/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Not sure what joseph is talking about

the recent Harry Reid controversy about negro dialect.

a small allusion to a master slave relationship (and not in the perfectly healthy S&M way)

I in no way was defending it, I was pointing out Ed might have been more generous in interpreting it as baby talk, either way it is a curious email and has obviously affected Ed in a negative way.

I agree I think you handled this with more grace than it deserved.

1/20/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

It sounds to me like a prank call in the age of the internet. Remember when you were a kid and you would call people up and say stupid things, then hang up? (Or was that just me?) Of course, Caller ID ruined that. But now that anyone can send you an email through your website, they can say stupid (and hostile) things to people they don't know personally. I also think you gave it more brainspace and graciousness than it deserved. I like that you have titled the syndrome, though.

1/20/2010 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

In my experience, you are what you hate. Or, at least, you are so familiar with what it is that irks you that you feel a tinge of recognition or familiarity before actively choosing to shoot down the impulse to relate. Now, I agree wholeheartedly that there is still no excuse for artists to act in this way. But, a little grace might be in order on occasion from the location of power in this situation. As an unrepresented artist who is new to New York to boot, I can understand the urge to breathe lightness or insincerity into moments where the utmost maturity is called for. I can also understand someone embedding their greatest fears in an offhanded comment, or stupid email.

From the perspective of an artist, I can relate to what it is that frustrates me about the dealer's position in this situation. I do it everyday in the studio. I work hard not to let in moments of meaninglessness or arbitrariness that may jeopardize the entire project.

1/20/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

I tracked down a picture of the artist in question.

1/20/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Would you elaborate on the relevance of your opening statement in that comment, Eric? Not sure I follow. Who mentioned hate?

"a little grace might be in order on occasion from the location of power in this situation"

Sorry you felt there was not a little grace in my first response. The intent was to give the writer the benefit of the doubt, rather than simply delete the email.

1/20/2010 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

It was not a remark that one would readily make directly to someone, face to face.


Maybe it was a remark better made face to face with accompanying facial expressions.

Such is the internet ;-)

1/20/2010 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Eric, Ed honestly responded to a very weird email by asking, "why the baby talk?" when he could have just deleted it. I think that shows plenty of grace, or at least a willingness to engage with this person on a mature level.

1/20/2010 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

Ed, have you ever gotten the "Please show my work because I'm going to die very soon" dude? That one is always my fave!

As well as the person who sent us their Nascar photoshop artwork-- not images, but the actual artwork.



1/20/2010 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hate is a strong a word, I agree. No one used the word except me. That just tends to be the language with which I remind myself how close I am to the causes of moments that bother me endlessly. I feel that I explained that well enough in the second sentence above.

I didn't say that you weren't gracious. I merely thought it needed to be reiterated after reading the comments section. I'll concede that I have no objection to the main thrust of your post, I'm just wary of writing people off. Perhaps that's my problem. I enjoyed the post thoroughly and am glad that you've mentioned the unmentionables. I only meant to bring a different perspective to the table.

1/20/2010 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Appreciate your clarification Eric, but your second sentence (within your opening statement) is the one I don't see the relevance of. I didn't shoot down my impulse to relate. I indulged it openly by asking him to explain the baby talk. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

1/20/2010 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Oly, I'm surprised you didn't like my Nascar portfolio. Maybe it was too fast for you.

1/20/2010 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

There is no excuse for poorly written vernacular.

That letter was disengenuous and written by a white person, probably with an axe to grind (entitled aristocracy is my bet) and hardly naive. Mildly racist in flavor, it characterizes the artist as powerless and infantile, and the gallerist as the arbiter of taste.

I don't blame artists for feeling powerless or warlike - making the best work and selling it at the same time is like having two jobs. Often sales trumps quality, as with sailboat pictures for tourists.

There are a few points you raise beyond your argument that a gallery is not a public service and owes no one a show or commercial opportunities.

The art world brand is one of enlightenment - galleries use the Victorian idea that art enobles you - that galleries educate and enlighten, and that their very existence is a sign of a virtuous society, even when they engage in sordid anti-art practices (such shows are only for the wise!).

I don;t blame anyone for having a sense of entitlement (self preservation demands it). SO often when people accuse someone of a sense of entitlement it is with a sense of their own entitlement. Selfishness is the real meaning of entitlement. How much is one required to give?

Many galleries from the SOHO years built the art world - there would be no Chelsea without it. They are the masters, the man. How much does an artist owe the uncaring uncompromising indifferent elders in their air conditioned towers?

But like most generational moments, thee masters are blind in many ways to the changes in the dark, bloody cultural soil that nurtured them.

They look at the new work and think to themselves, ha, no one will be as great as we became! Forgetting that their first humble efforts were met with indifference - or perhaps remembering the struggle, believe the new should struggle just as much. Or lastly, so insecure that to give any creedence to difference is to upset the authority of the cannon - Harold Bloom may be right, but how is he wrong?

I think the letter would be better addressed to the city of new york, which continues to make it hard for artists to live anywhere near the marketplace, thus making it necessary to travel to it, often as strangers in a strange land.

The author's irrational transference - the entire art world of New York for Ed Winkleman, gallerist, is why many people shut down when approached by individuals wanting something.

But artists are offering their work, they come not as beggars but as kings, or beggars who are also kings, and gallerists are kings who are also beggars, fishers of artists.

1/20/2010 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the initial response "Why the baby talk?" was sincere and showed moderation. The later comments starting with "I don't know you" were overbearing.

1/20/2010 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I don't blame artists for feeling powerless or warlike

I blame them for both. Because both are indications of them refusing to recognize their power, and abdication combined with whining is simply unbearable. Even the phrase "us poor artists" grates on my nerves. If the world isn't coming to you offering you opportunities, then get out there, like so many others before you have, and make your own opportunities. New York makes it hard for anyone not already wealthy to realize their dreams, but who ever said your dreams were supposed to be easy to realize?

The later comments starting with "I don't know you" were overbearing.

The later comments, never actually emailed to the commenter and contextualized as "brutal" already, were my response to the artist rejecting my request for clarification. A spit in the face, if you will. I'll stand by their appropriateness.

1/21/2010 07:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

tough crowd

1/21/2010 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

well ed The Letter reads as if it is making light of ANY struggle - in effect it seems not written by an artist but by someone who is familiar with the scene but doesn't really participate - an aristocrat.
because regardles of age, it is insensitive to the process of rejection that i see many artist go through when they play by the rules, any rules.

As for making your own opportunities there aren't actually that many options - though they are more acceptible now than 10-15-20 years ago - interesting.

1) Turn your "space" into a gallery and invite people.
2) Become a street artist(but risk felony arrest)
3) Show your work on the street (Eric Gelber now has a career thanks in part to publicity and an angry gallerist)
4) Sell on e-bay (you can set up a pay pal account easily and work does sell).
5) Apply for grants (a time consuming and thankless task - not for everyone)
6) Find a curator (BTW who are they? where do they hang out? I don't mean any of the Klaus's, just the everyday ones that bring shows to smaller gallery directors).
7) Go door to door (no real artist would do this)
8) Do a publicity stunt (art action)
9) Organize studio visits. Someone will notice.

1/21/2010 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

That is perhaps the most self-centered comment you've ever made, Zip...and for you, that's saying something.

Like that artist in question, you are NOT the only one struggling to achieve something here. Everyone in this world has goals and dreams. Some of us simply don't feel entitled to other people's resources in our quest to achieve them. I don't moan about not getting curator X at museum Y to give my artist a solo show or add their work to the museum collection...I redouble my efforts to convince them they should through respect, persistence, and hard work. I don't pout about how unfair it is they are blockading us poor dealers. Get a grip, dude.

Your list of opportunities is hackneyed...try harder.

1/21/2010 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger EAGEAGEAG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/21/2010 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Sorry about that, Eric Gelber...just assumed everyone knew Zip meant Eric Doeringer. Perhaps too insidery of me.

For the record, if Zip doesn't mean Eric Doeringer, then he has no idea what he's talking about.

1/21/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm certain Zipthwung meant Doeringer and not Gelber. I've noticed s/he frequently does that... mixes up names.. didn't it just happen on a recent thread, and someone jumped on his ass about it? It's like dyslexia, not sure what the correct term is.

1/21/2010 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Yeah i meant Doeringer.

Ed that's the second time youve taken something I said in general and applied it to me specifically - are you demonstrating one of the logicall problems with the letter as I pointed out?

As far as the list being hackneyed much of your advice to artists is hackneyed, and folows the lists that you find in books about how to make it as an artist. I agree, think of somehting better.

In general thinking outside the white cube is a good idea - Duke Riley (did I get that right) is notable in this respect, with his stagedd interventions (though that too is a threadbare genre by now I suppose).

Basquiat sold his work on the streets, and himself, apparently. So I dunno, who cares I shure dont. You want a list of more interesting ways to make a scene? You first.

Frankly, I wasn't trying all that hard.

How about a bake sale? Deitch did that. Look where that got him.

1/21/2010 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

are you demonstrating one of the logicall problems with the letter as I pointed out

Perhaps. Re-reading your post I called you self-centered for, I realize I don't understand what you mean at all now.

You have stood up for the notion that the world owes something to artists before, though, "I don't blame anyone for having a sense of entitlement" but the irony here (and what I think got under my skin about the original email in question) is that neither that artist nor you actually share what it is that would presumably entitle you to other people's consideration, time, or resources.

In other words, you're both asking for a license for selfishness based on absolutely art and therefore no proof of talent or of giving anything back to society is ever offered.

Had the email writer thrown in a jpeg or link to a site or anything at all, I doubt I would have been as annoyed.

The same criticism goes for your insistence that artists are kings "offering their work." In your case, what work? Seriously...what work are you offering that makes you a king? I've no idea what your art is or if you even make any, which seems odd for a self-appointed champion of selfish behavior.

As for the advice offered here, it follows no lists. I've never read one in preparing it.

As it has been framed nearly every time it's offered, it comes from my personal, totally subjective experience of what has worked with me. It's offered not as a recipe for success that if you follow step-by-step will guarantee your art stardom, but rather one-sided insights that I've seen work for others. As such, it's worth every cent you've paid to read it.

1/22/2010 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger tony said...

Ed, methinks you do do complain too much.

Let's say that an artist produces work which he believes justifies, at least, the chance to be shown. There are relatively few showing places in relation to the amount being produced; he approaches the turnstyle to the stadium and the ticket inspector denies him entry without even looking at his ticket and, as it turns out, the ticket inspector also happens to be the one who validates the ticket for entry. No wonder the artist lets off in frustration & anger because he sees others slip into the stadium & for the life of him he can't understand how they got past the ticket inspector.

1/22/2010 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Methinks you have it backwards here, though, Tony. The artist in question isn't offering any ticket to inspect...he's insisting he be let in just because he says he's an artist...I don't think it's too much to expect an artist claiming entitlement to cough up some actual art to justify it.

1/22/2010 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger tony said...

Sorry, Ed.

Reading in the mirror again. Of course if you don't put anything up front you don't have the right to play.

1/22/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Ed, isn't it good enough for you that I, as an artist, suffer?

Oh wait. Maybe not as much as all the people in this world who earn ninety cents a day. If that.

Never mind.

1/22/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

enough of this farce! The letter was stupid.

1/22/2010 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

as I don't want to direct us to where we can see your art.

"farce" seems relative

1/22/2010 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

ha! No ed I don't. I do think taking that letter is flaimbait, as the anonymous police on this blog say.

I can direct you to my random text and images on a blog - call it research. Is research art? I don't know. I do know that the work I value requires a period of osmotic process. Otherwise you (descend/disappear) into materials fetish and solipsism (not my game).

How would my work being good or bad change my point that artists struggle to make good work as well as get noticed? "the good" is often pretty subjective, even within a school of thought or "mental frame".
Maintaining the mental frame is the hard part.

Do i need to include myself to be judged whether I have "content" in my work? As I mentioned before, no one asks to see Jerry Saltz's work past or present. Why should I? Jerry makes all kinds of comments about what artists are doing, and what they should be doing and what the institutions are not doing - form Manny Farber's termite art comparisons to whining about how there aren't any women in th art world he comes across as crossing guard.

But for the sake of discussion lets just say my work is as bad as Peter Schjeldahls poetry or even Julian Schnabels music - that I'm all just sour grapes and failure, a faker - I'm ok with that.

1/22/2010 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's perfectly fine, laudable even, to be dissatisfied with the way the world works and to be contemptuous of it - it's just not fair to direct the anger at any one individual as though they wrote the game rules. Zip, I don't know whether you meant it but I thought your comparison of artists to kings was sublime.

Sure I'd be happier if I could get with the program of just doing the work and leaving history to judge it but since that's so unsatisfying and far fetched, it seems such an unreasonable, though well intended, piece of advice for a non artist to give an artist.


1/22/2010 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

How would my work being good or bad change my point that artists struggle to make good work as well as get noticed?

I didn't take that to be your point. I took your point to be that regardless of whether an artist is good or bad they are entitled to others' resources/time/attention/adoration/etc. because they're an artist, in the abstract, divorced from their actual output. I totally disagree with that. Talent deserves more of each.

I, like everyone in the art world, personally only have so much of any of those I can give...and so I choose carefully where I distribute them. Yes, what's "good" is would be really freaking boring if all galleries agreed on what was good and we all simply competed to show the same work. But given the world's limited resources what's deemed "worthy" has to be based on actually seeing someone's artwork. That email was offensive because it demanded resources without offering any rationale in return other than the assertion the writer was an artist.

1/22/2010 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...


It has been interesting to follow this post, you are obviously distraught by the email, and particularly defensive to the point you are becoming suspect, it's like someone nervous hooked up to a lie detector machine, even if they tell the truth they still might appear to be lying. You keep saying that the email and artists in general have a sense of entitlement and after re-rereading the email translating it into normal English, then translating to Japanese then back to English, recording it to vinyl playing it at 33 rpm then 45 rpm, scratch mixing it into a Brazilian cover of "Love Me Do", playing it backwards, writing it on yellow construction paper with a purple crayon then holding it up to a mirror and looking at the reflection, followed by watching "The Alien Autopsy", "The Zapruder Film" and starring for six hundred and sixty six minutes at "The Shroud of Turin", I have had an epiphany, this email is just a clumsy, sophomoric (or maybe soph-moronic) attempt by an artist to ask:

"Do you think you will be accepting submissions anytime soon?"

Would you have in mind when yo website might say de opposite of what it say now?

I hope this eases your mind and you realise that I and everyone of your readers appreciate your effort and enjoy your daily blog offerrings and above all else:

"WE WUV U!!!" :-)

1/23/2010 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

well thats settled. Did I make it clear enough that this kind of letter insults the artists? I took it kind of personally, in a way. which may be reading too much into it, but not from my perspective. Because that person was not an artist.

But artists do whine - ask Jackson Pollock. They sure melted his wings off after blowing sunshine up his ass, didn't they. He took it pretty personally, which is weird in this age of "postmodern" irony or distance. But then he did it to himself, too.

Thanks for the excuse to write.
Thanks for the compliments.
I'm listening to The Road. It's not actually all that good as an allegory or whatever - I'm afraid it's going to turn into Pilgrim's Progress or A Rakes Progress some progress shit.

1/23/2010 03:45:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...


1/23/2010 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Cathy, I don't think "Persist in your work and let History sort things out" is advice that would be accepted by people in other fields of endeavor. To me, the problem is the standard operating procedure of the art industry: the work of relatively few artists is sold, at the highest prices possible, to relatively few buyers. A niche marketing strategy that can't help but create frustration at a time when the world has more good-to-very-good artists in it than at any other time.

But it's not the only strategy that can work. Sears proved this in the 1960s, when they sold 50,000(!) works of original art to American homes and offices. (I suspect their program ended due to supply problems, and not a decrease in demand. Prices for original art probably rose to the point where Sears could not resell pieces at affordable prices.)

What we need today are bigger sellers (like Sears), using their expertise to grow markets for original art. And to send their buyers on studio visits all over the country (and world). More capitalism, not less. (Artists would have to learn how to present themselves as professionals to buyers - even more than they have to now.)

Is this the sort of thing #class is addressing? I'm a little confused about it.

1/23/2010 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

A strict read on the Winkleman Gallery website is that submissions are not accepted-
"Submissions: Please note that we are not currently reviewing artist submissions. For advice to artists seeking gallery representation, please visit Edward Winkleman's blog posts here."
The artist emailing the gallery did NOT break what seemed to be a rule. Though his email was taunting, he obeyed what was asked by not submitting anything, but wanted to know when submissions would be accepted. Chances are he may have been drunk or high or feeling a little mischievous hence the tone, and had been rechecking multiple gallery websites looking for some tiny opening. Feeling bold enough to send the email in the first place chances are that this was not the first time he had looked at the Winkleman Gallery website. Based on what Mr. Winkleman has posted it appears that many artists just ignore the notice not to send anything and do so anyway, and Mr. Winkleman sounds frustrated that this artist withheld his work somehow and therefore may not be genuine. I'm an artist (website), unrepresented and I endlessly apply when I see a possible opening. I am not the "wuv" emailer, but I can sympathize with him. Context always comes into play. If an artist sends an image will it receive the same parsing and diligent consideration that the short text email about "wuv" and "blockades" has received? The email artist apparently struck a nerve and the writer might be enjoying the reverberations following on this blog if he is savvy; Or it might just have been a fluke that someone was just sending a sarcastic note. In any case it does help to shine a sliver of light on the shadow play of gallery representation. Artists are not always the best spokesperson for their own work, and speaking for myself it often feels there is not consideration given on a level playing field but the field is slanted towards the well-spoken, the well-connected schools, the friends and colleagues of those already in the system and sometimes those who produce a shock to the system from outside and are then let in. It probably is not as much of an us/them system as I making it sound now, but there seems a cloudy virtual wall separating the unknown artist feeling he or she (from personal experience) has something new to show to people and the gallery system which can help provide the artist with a stage but that is unwilling to see the artists' vision. It is much easier to write someone's work off as derivative or not conceptual enough or this or that or done before rather than to seek out where within the heart of the work is the truly unique part that no other artist has done. When all attempts for acknowledgement of the artist from what appears to be the reinforced and stratified presentation system for artistic accomplishment is all but impossible to attain an artist will lash out or become bitter.

1/23/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Mr. Winkleman, being one of the gatekeepers has put himself in a public position, (more than most because of his book and blog; and in that I respect his sincerity) and cannot help every artist to get their work seen but must be aware that for every artist that succeeds many fail and are probably bitter for feeling propelled by living in a capitalist-materialist system that lures people into art schools and into pursuing their wildest dreams with a bit of bravado and convinced into believing that they are the one to succeed while pouring their money, heart and soul into their art, these art institutions and systems that feed the viscous circle. Yes, the artist has big baby syndrome but didn't the art school, the art world at large, and the pursuit of happiness push him or her towards this end? Some big babies seem to succeed and become big famous artists and some not- a big ballon dog, squishes of wax transformed into a larger than life bronzes, big elaborate anime paintings help attest to this. There is not a true objectivity in these matters and that makes it difficult for artist and gallerist alike, however it does feel that some artists get a pass and others do not whether it is simply luck or mood of the times or some secret connection; to an artist from the outside looking in it can produce feelings of resentment and these might sometimes be taken out on the most approachable of gallerists.

1/23/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Persist in your work and let History sort things out" - Yes Tom, maybe the Shakers would buy that idea but there are only 3 of them left and their art gets lapped up anyway. Or maybe they'd find it ludicrous too.


1/23/2010 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Erker said...

You're right, Ed, artists do act like babies, myself included; though I try to not let it interfere with my professional relationships. I'm keen on the "tough love" and I know how sharp it can be. So we weather our injuries and proceed along. I have one thing to add to the discussion but in order to do so first let me reference a comment you made in regard to your Deitch post which has already been paraphrased in the comments to this post but not the entire paragraph:

“If having your ego massaged in the spotlight of "it" is your goal (and I know plenty for artists for whom it is), then, well, you might need to let that dream go (or not...your call). If making your art as well as you can make it, and letting history do the rest is tolerable, then nothing has changed.”

For most artists I would imagine things are not so binary as you described. Like everything, it is a bit more complicated than that. For one, ego is always involved, whether it’s the ego that wants to be massaged by the spotlight or the ego that works tirelessly under the studio lamps letting “history” do the rest. (Do you find the use of the word “history” problematic? History is never objective.)

What was not mentioned, at least in the context and degree that I’m interested in, is that there is also the ego that isn’t interested in celebrity but rather wants the work that is created to become a part of the ongoing dialogue that is Art. Art is not anti-social. Artists that work without representation long for their work to be discussed by others, not necessarily to have their personalities massaged. And while there are different opportunities for achieving this dialogue, the gallery is the most conventional route. Hence, you as target and transference as Zip aptly described.

If the galleries and other institutions aren’t biting, I think it is very important that artists take it upon themselves to get their work out there. Therefore, I suggest to Big Baby, and other artists as well, that they open up their own space.

1/24/2010 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think your suggestion for artists to open their space will be accepted by Edward. Edward called the idea "hackneyed" when Zipthwung put that idea in his making-your-own-opportunities list. It's tough to stay motivated sometimes, huh?


1/24/2010 09:32:00 PM  

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