12/05/06 THE MUMMY'S TOOTH #2


If I have ever disguised the fact that I don't care for the art world, I've done a really crappy job, because most people who know me know that the only way they'll ever get me into a gallery showing is if they hold a tray of hors d'ouvres up to the window. And none of those little, indistiguishable meat-paste sandwiches, either -- there better be cheese and cocktail wieners, and I'd better be allowed to carry them into the actual gallery. It's the curator's duty to protect his paintings from greasy fingerprints and red sauce splatters, not fruity little signs saying 'no food or drink beyond this point.'

Now, I don't mind artists -- that is, I am not immediately prejudiced against someone who creates art, on that basis alone. I'll admit I get edgy when I meet someone who is creating paintings from the sling-random-colors-at-the-canvas school, but I realize that they might simply be good people creating bad art for justifiable reasons -- conning the National Endowment for the Arts out of a grant, for instance, or being certifiably insane. For instance, I have never criticized painting as a career choice for those who would otherwise be out murdering people and making furniture from the skeletons of teenagers.

With that said, however, the haughty attitudes and the pretension which the art world not only exudes but cultivates, outright, quite unabashedly, puts me right off my Exhibit of Colored Glass Pieces Blown in the Thousand Shapes of Despair. There are numerous level-headed people producing good, comprehensible art, and I applaud their contributions to the craft* -- however, there are also plenty enough black-wearing, middle-aged patrons of the arts going on about the meanings and emotions connected to your average feces-smeared canvas to keep that particular stereotype going for many a decade to come.

I don't know quite how all this artistic pretension got started, but my amateur guess would be that it was around the end of the renaissance period, the first time an effete man with black hair looked at a painting and said, "This makes me feel cold inside," and everyone around him decided it was just too much work to go ahead and stone him for witchcraft.

Their dereliction of duty opened the door to all manner of artsy types, sneaking in for a free ride on an art-viewing public too cowed to admit that the emperor has no clothes. When that happened, it was just a manner of time before any number of people who would rightfully be laughed out of any decent cultural center mere decades before caught on to the fact that their lousy, incompetent paintings could still be sold as high art if they assigned deep meanings, emotions, and sentience to them.

The failure to catch and stop these charlatans rests with ourselves, the art-viewing public. By failing to call such artists on their baloney, and further failing to set fire to their paintings and break their thumbs with two-by-fours, we allow this farce to continue. My friends, the responsibility is ours to rise up and stem this ugly tide.

What I'm getting at is, the next time you're invited to a gallery showing, see if they're serving cocktail wieners before you go.

*Art people pronounce it 'crahhft.'



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