Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dilemas and Disconnections

I have had the worst few days regarding my art. This stuff isn't supposed to be fun all the time and can be even more challenging than most jobs. With most jobs , however, one can expect a wage or some financial reward.

My art costs include a studio, for which I am grateful, supplies, framing or display costs, compensation costs for help with carpentry, special skills, special computer programs and stuff like cameras or photographers for documentation, and machines. All of these costs have risen drastically in the last few years.

Everyone is trying to get a bargain or a donation from me. People have agreed on fees and commision portions and then renegotiated them. At a lower rate. I am expected to not only donate work for charity but am now also expected to document it, do a write up and offer the organization more than one option for my donation. Many of these donations are then offered up for a charitable auction and the work is sold for less than the cost of my display frame or container. The same people who go see the work at a gallery often find out when the auction is, bid on the work for very little which in the long run doesn't benefit either my gallery or me.

I ran a gallery last summer and know how hard people who run galleries work. It is car sales on high with an expectation of performance and an ability to educate the public about art while at the same time providing some of what it is they want. Gallery owners with high standards and those who are fair to artists are having a difficult time. One gallery owner is so decent she provides an incredible curatorial statement and photodocuments everything beautifully as well as finding other venues for my art when shows are over with her.

Art is necessary for every culture. Beauty and stimulation are important for a healthy society.

Impoverishing those who make, provide and honour art is a bad decision for any society. Artists start producing product and end up becoming more like factory workers. Factory workers are better paid. In Canada at least.

When I end up charging 50 dollars for a work that I have to factor in the time and my costs of production. The artist gets a little more than half the money after the gallery is paid. When an object costs 50 dollars in a gallery the artist receives about 27 dollars. The artist then has to cover all the other costs mentioned previously. The average time it takes to do a small work often takes at least 2 hours not including design and finishing time or things like drying time. Fine crafted objects are often intensely detailed and can take much longer.

Each organization I gave to last year has also experienced drastic cuts and are now holding expensive fundraisers so they can scrape by. Government funding has been cut and public and private galleries both suffer from the effects of that. Most privately funded galleries are scraping by at the same time that publically funded galleries are crumbling and on the edge of extinction.

Rents have gone up. Art studio rents have gone up. Commercial spaces rents and buying costs have gone up. So have the costs of providing the infrastructures for all of these organizations.

I love making art. I try to make art that is good. I have trained for a long time. I try my damndest to come up with original ideas. I work lots of hours at it. I just feel very discouraged.

This week one of my galleries let me go. I got negotiated out of a fair workshop payment and was
asked to donate just to save an organization from crumbling completely. I was also asked to provide membership fees for three seperate organizations whose fees have more than doubled since I joined. My insurance costs have screamed up because most of the places artists live and work are almost uninsurable now. Worse yet, the person I hired to help me do a workshop was asked to work for free.

There are solutions for some of this and I will find some of the ones I need. I will also consider or not whether at this stage in my life art is worth making at all.

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