If an artist puts his or her art out there (wherever “there” may be), it is likely to be judged and often juried. I have frequently complained about the capricious tastes of jurors and art critics. An art show or gallery should feature good art. But who should decide what’s good? Is a New York art critic a bona fide snob, or the last word on quality? And what, exactly, is an art snob? According to my on-line dictionary, a snob is someone with “an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste and intellect.” Simply put, a snob believes that they have better taste than you do.
That couldn’t be me. Or could it? I’ve been known to make some pretty harsh comments about Thomas Kinkaid. I muttered, “The Emperor has no clothes,” as I wandered through the minimalist exhibit at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. But I thought my comments were a matter of personal taste and not snobbery. However, it was Fort Smith, Arkansas, that pointed out my Achilles heel. I’ve been a snob in matters of geography. I believed art thrived in big (important) cities like New York, or Los Angeles, or in trendy places like Santa Fe and Jackson Hole. I also thought, and still think, that Sonoma County, California, is a Mecca for artists of every kind. A blog about the murals of Fort Smith showed me the error of my ways. Fort Smith, Arkansas? Do they really have great art there? Indeed they do!
For the past two years, Fort Smith has been the site of the aptly named Unexpected Mural Project, an arts and culture initiative that brings world-class art to downtown Fort Smith, revitalizing it in the process. Adjectives cannot express the magnificence of the murals. All are created during a week-long process that captivates city residents and, I’m sure, many visitors. Since a picture really is worth a thousand words when it comes to art, “Google” The Unexpected Art Project, or get the app (unexpectedFS) and be amazed.
Snobbism is a form of prejudice. The murals of Fort Smith brought me face-to-face with mine. I believed that geography excluded most of the USA from experiencing great art. I was so wrong! There are cities and towns all over the country hosting exciting art fairs and events. Artists of all kinds live there. They represent the visual arts, writing, dance, drama and music.
Recently, I had a conversation with my son, Ethan, about my change of heart.
“I used to think art was only found on the East and West Coasts,” I said.
“No,” he replied, “art is everywhere; culture is only on the coasts.”
Now, that’s food for another blog! And fuel for a lively discussion…
Upcoming Art Event – Not For Snobs
Affordable Quality Art for the Everyman (and Everywoman)