Who decides if Uptown Money will Kill Downtown Art?

So I was originally going to post about how art has become this disgusting multi-billion dollar industry, where the privileged use their extra cents to buy and sell pieces of art, old and new, and how it is such a disheartening and sad sad thing that is happening to the world of art.

And then Mushpa says, with a cute smile on her face … “Well hey, I’ll sell my pig for 8 billion dollars!!!”

Well, if someone will buy it for that amount, why wouldn’t we sell it?

So here is my dilemma… Which walks do we walk when we talk certain talks?

If I trash talk the art industry because it is a classist, capitalist, white male driven industry, this means I should do whatever it is my power to stand against it, right? As this guy Christian Viveros-Faune points in his article “How Uptown Money Kills Downtown Art”, all artist should form communities and stand together for an anti-capitalist/occupy-art social movement.

I am not going to lie…I often day dream about the day this happens. I day dream about artist organizing themselves into boycotting sales of art for profit, and painting true art over all advertisements that use art in order to sell a product for, you guessed it, profits. I daydream of New York City subways being covered with free-and-from-the-people-to-the-people-art. Wouldn’t that be badass?!? To fill every corner of this concrete city with colors, installations, sculptures, photographs and multitudes of other visual stimulants that fill us and do exactly what art should do: To feel something. Not sell a phone or insurance. And the best part about it is that it would be free, for EVERYBODY’s enjoyment.

Mermaid Drawing selling for $120 million!

But it’s more complicated than that of course. Nothing is that simple. To deconstruct this complex mafia-like art industry would be the task of everyone, and not just a group of artist motivated to change and make some noise. It would be deconstructing the whole system, along with its multitudes of problems.

The real issue comes in when we asks artist who have the reputation of either being lucky because they are successful, or just plain poor, to sacrifice for the sake of art. So when somebody comes and offers you a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell a sketch for a million dollars, wouldn’t you take it?

Accepting that money would be accepting that art has become a business transaction, rather than what I do, and many artists do art for, which is to let that explosion of creativity boiling up in your brain out into the world. Selling out would not be an option for me. Neither will be starving though. And neither will be letting go of art to pursue a job that will feed me and pay my bills.

What it comes down to though, is that as artist and artist communities, WE need to dictate how and for how much our art should be sold. Do I believe that my mermaid drawing is worth $120 million? Probably not… Just like I would hope Edvard Munch wouldn’t think that his drawing of “The Scream” is worth that same amount, even if a group of privileged folks over at Sotheby’s though it was.

So what to do!? Fellow artist, we need to agree on this one. How much do we think our drawings, paintings, sculptures and other fantastical pieces are worth? 10 bucks? $3,000? A fa-fillion dollars? Free?

I haven’t figured this one out yet. Have you?


One thought on “Who decides if Uptown Money will Kill Downtown Art?

  1. I would take the 8 million for my Elephant the Pig, worth it or not. Yes, as it would be for more than just to, “sustain my lifestyle…give me money to pay loans, rent and some amazing trip around the world”, but instead I would have resources to create change I did not have before. To maintain our lifestyle is not exorbitant, debt minimal, trips around the world can be less then a few months of rent if you know how to do it. Once all that is done and we upgrade a few things ;], that leaves us at least 6 million to achieve real change in this life. To me that would be amazing… so anyone looking for a Pig named Elephant here is where to go… https://www.etsy.com/listing/122149548/plush-animal-elephant-the-pig for now $19.99 tomorrow 8 million dollars!!! :]

    – Mushpa

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