Thursday, April 21, 2011

Showcase - Artist Carol Smeraldo

Contrast In Clay V: Under Sea World in Raku and Porcelain is currently showing at Swoon until April 29th. Check out Carol's interview with Elissa Bernard next week in the Chronical Herald!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Shows The Thing

I once had a solo opening on a day the stock market happened to fall out of bed. Arriving late, I was surprised to find a lineup in the street and a crowd of eager buyers inside. "What's going on?" I asked my dealer as he rushed back and forth with his dots. "It's always like this when the stock market goes down," he said. "People put their money into art. And when the stock market goes up, they have extra money so they put it into art." The event was one of my first insights into the remarkable phenomenon of the art show.
Being flock animals, humans gain confidence when everyone else is flocking to a kill. Also, being predatory, we like to tear off the best cuts, preferably in front of others. It's called "conspicuous consumption," a term first used by the sociologist Thorstein Veblen in 1899 and in evidence ever since.
Over my lifetime, shows have become more subtle and nuanced. In a lot of areas they are less frenetic and perhaps less effective. I've had shows where there were no sales at the openings; people discreetly phoned their orders the following morning. Perhaps there were sociologists in the crowd, but it may just be a Canadian thing--the desire not to expose our fangs in public.
Bringing artists and public together is a main function of shows. Actually, customers turn out to be real people, as do artists, humility and all, and George Bernard Shaw's dictum, "When you know the artist, you think less of the art," is often, but not always, laid to rest.
Then there's the modern miracle of the Internet-telephone axis. Once a potential client has agreed to receive a show by email, a dealer in Toronto can sell work to a keener in Kapuskasing. The best galleries send their virtual shows to favoured customers just in the nick of time--like an hour before the opening. Nowadays, when you're sipping your Chardonnay and the gallery phone rings, you know that foreigners are crashing the party.
And that reminds me of booze. Everyone knows it loosens the tongue. It's a wallet shaker as well. Once, late in the evening when we had pretty well run out of cheese, a fellow said to me, "Thish is your worst show yet, Robert--I'll take that one."

From Robert Glenn Twice Weekly

Posted by Brandt Eisner

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poor Me Syndrome

Yesterday, Robert Revak Dublac of Unionville, Connecticut wrote, "I am an under-recognized artist. It's a frustrating time of my career. I'm astounded how arrested our culture has become. There doesn't seem to be any concept of art evolving from representational to abstract. Museums are even giving Impressionist painting classes. My sales started to drop in the mid-'70s, just as my work became stronger and more substantive. Galleries no longer choose artists with conviction; they've become art shops. Fortunately the granting programs have been most generous through the years, but they too have their financial challenges. Even "Art in America" has become appalling! The imagery looks like something from my design classes in the '60s! I need to find exposure or a gallery affiliation. At present I'm in a backwater--just vegetating."
Thanks, Robert. FYI, we've put a selection of Robert Dublac's work at the top of the current clickback.
Robert Dublac is a victim of the tides that ebb and flow in fashionable art. Robert is right; there is a significant return to varieties of representational work. The tide could just as easily turn again. Many art schools during the '60s and '70s disdained realism and favoured the kind of work Robert still does. The result is an overabundance of abstraction and thousands of disappointed painters who are unable to secure grants and now find themselves driving taxis.
Artists need not be so appalled when they understand the fickle nature of the art market. Under-recognized they may be, but the bandwagon of the '60s turned out to be the stalled donkey-cart of today. Perhaps not surprisingly, it's often abstraction that now seems old fashioned.
Part of this change came about because of the facile nature of a lot of '60s abstraction. Collectors demanded more than imagination. They wanted something that appeared to them to have more skill and meaning. They wanted to connect. Conservative these collectors became, and they began to trust history more than the new "wunderkind." More than anything, dealers and critics wanted something they could talk and write about.
Backwater? Vegetating? It's been my quiet but persistent observation that the most anti-creative pills an artist can take are, "Poor me," "Art has gone to pot," and "The world owes me a living."

Best regards,

From Robert Glenn Twice-Weekly Letter
Posted by Brandt Eisner

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New to Swoon

Artists Anne Johnstone and Rae Smith are the newest members to join the Swoon family.

Anne Johnstone, "Blue Hills" Pastel

Rae Smith, "Clam Diggers - Cross Island" Pastel

See more of Anne and Rae's work on our website,