Friday, December 18, 2009
The art world is a great place to go in order to feel like a failure. It’s a great place to develop a drinking problem and a bad attitude. Frank Ferraro, Josh Hogan, and Mark Gualtieri are the only guys I know personally who paint as well as I do. They’re all fucking awesome. Aside from them, I see lots of academic posturing, trendy hipster crap and amateurish junk. None of it has any heart. None of it has any soul. None of it has any grit. That’s all fine. I don’t really care. What bothers me are the rejection letters from all the juried shows to which I apply. I could wallpaper my goddamned house with them, and still have enough left over to wallpaper your house, too. If my work isn’t good enough, whose is? What really burns me is when I go to the show to see what beat me. I’ve made that mistake before. When I see it, I want to cut my eyes out with a box cutter. Who juries this stuff? MFAs do. Gallery owners do. Pretentious shitheads do. They’re arrogant motherfuckers who don’t have the talent and/or heart to make their own work and bring it out into the world. They’re people who have made a career out of their fetish for academia and academic standards, as if those things are a measure of quality. They’re one-dimensional people with no experience outside of the field. These people believe that art needs to be one of three things to be good. It needs to be 1) qualified, 2) trendy, or 3) a vocabulary word. Your art needs to be technically beyond reproach (ie, you’ve got an MFA or an established name), look like whatever’s big at that moment, or be so staggering in its technical sophistication that its lack of emotional resonance is easily overlooked, and questioning its quality is a more difficult task than putting it on a pedestal. This isn’t to say that all art needs to be evocative and emotionally charged. Cold, intellectual art is great too, but there are even fewer people who are good at that than there are of the former type. I’m glad I went to college and graduated. I learned a lot there, and I’m still paying off all of the loans. When I think about going back to grad school for my MFA, I just don’t think there’s anything they could teach me, and I don’t need another $40,000 piece of paper that badly. I can keep reading Charles Bukowski’s books, listening to Lou Reed’s music, pushing my paintings further, drinking black coffee on my own, and whoring myself out to any gallery that will hang me. No qualifications necessary.