Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where is ArtWorks?

With so much talk about the upcoming Shepard Fairey Supply and Demand at the CAC, there seems to be a growing recognition of street art or at least the commercialization of it. With the soon to be unveiled area murals painted by Fairey, local businesses (not yet revealed) are in the ready to be celebrated as partners in art.

Where are our local artists? In all of the local promotion of this exhibition, I have seen little recognition of our own street artists, specifically our MuralWorks artists.

CAC Director Raphaela Platow suggests, "the boundary between commercial art and contemporary art is artificial," and as we unveil the commercial murals, a perceived wall blocking recognition of Cincinnati's contemporary street artists seems to be erecting around town.

I don't necessarily blame this on the CAC. The UnMuseum on the 6th floor plans to include works by ArtWorks and Able Projects in conjunction with Supply and Demand. The weakness in promotion of our local artists seems to rest with ArtWorks. I've criticized Artworks in the past for their inability to represent and promote the local arts in any respectable way. The response was mixed, but mostly called on me to recognize this 8 year old non-profit organization as strapped for help and perhaps money. I don't buy it.

ArtWorks has a strong p.r. and development arm flexing itself during the spring and summer months. During these months we see a continuous call for artists to teach and work through the summer on projects that include many of our city's murals. And the Secret ArtWorks fundraiser is arguably one of the most successful annual art mixers as the place to be. Like the ease of properly labeling works, offering props to our local artists is nearly effortless with social networking. And now with Supply and Demand ready to open and ArtWorks working on collaborative programing with the CAC, permitting our local artists to be virtually invisible is inexcusable. Such failure to promote our artists results in merely commercializing or commodifying the local arts.

So perhaps Platow is correct: "the boundary between commercial art and contemporary art is artificial." Is this the goal?


printdesigner said...

It seems like you are kind of hard on Artworks. I have been impressed with them from day one. I don't know how much hands on experience you have had with non-profits but as a volunteer to different non- profit organizations, I can tell you that the ones I have worked with do an awful lot with little resources. Maybe you should focus on the good things ArtWorks does for this city.

Me said...

Actually, I think this more recent post tries to highlight the good work that ArtWorks does here in Cincinnati. The problem I have is that few people who have not worked closely with this organization, like you or people like me who try to keep an close eye on what is happening in the art community, would not otherwise know.

My argument is that ArtWorks fails to celebrate their own.

Unknown said...

Thank you for highlighting the CAC's collaboration with ArtWorks. We are a champion of their work and a big supporter of what they do for our community

Though I understand the following is not the focus of the article per se, a few points however could stand to be corrected:

1. Fairey will not be painting murals. His process involves wheat-pasting posters.

2. It is important to note that the site submissions were entirely mixed--comprised of individual homes, nonprofit organizations, schools, condo buildings and various other structures (even an automobile!) as well as businesses. Characterizing the external murals of Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand as "commercial" I fear is quite misleading.

-Molly O'Toole
Contemporary Arts Center

Me said...

Thanks for the clarification. Once the sites are revealed, I look forward to seeing a more diverse reflection of the community.