Ivan's Blog

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Tag: society

Viewing the exhibition Fractured Narratives at the Cornell Museum

Sorry for the delay since my last post. I have become an adjunct teacher and find that it is taking time away from my art making or anything related to it.

I went to the Cornell Fine Art Museum several weekends ago and was very impressed by their latest exhibition. Out of all the museums in Central Florida they have maintained their degree of excellence, putting on exhibitions to educate the public about contemporary art, and it’s free.

They have curated a part of the Alfonse Collection of Art dealing with the aspect of narrative, which leaves the viewer enough room to construct their own conclusion while addressing modern issues plaguing our current society, including warfare, racism, and climate change. This show is not a “feel good” exhibition.   Don’t get me wrong, there is beautiful art on display, but it makes us aware of things we are ignoring that need to be dealt with eventually; it makes you leave with a conscience regarding issues that need to be addressed not only by citizens of the United States of America, but as citizen of this universe and our survival as a human race.

The title of the show is Fractured Narratives showing the works of Dawoud Bey, Omer Fast, Eric Gottesman, Jenny Holzer, Alfredo Jarr, Amar Kanwar, William Kentridge, An-My Le, Maya Lin, Goshka Macuga, Israel Moreno, Rivane Neusenschwander, Trevor Paglen, and Martha Rosler.

The thought that kept popping in my head is how as a country we have changed our mentality to overlook certain actions for the price of security either from terrorism or more recently from a deadly disease. The world has changed since 9/11 and this show reminds us how. I will be starting off with the strongest piece in the show, which is a video titled 5000 Feet is the Best, by the artist Omar Fast. I have never heard of this artist. The video is thirty minutes long, high quality by Hollywood standards in production and filmmaking. There is an interviewer asking the question “what is the difference between you and someone who sits in the plane?” The man he is asking this question turns out to be a veteran drone pilot. He gets agitated about answering this question; he suffers from headaches, and then changes the subject by telling a story. The story he is telling is then depicted in the video while the man narrates the scene, once the story is told we are back in the room again, the man excuses himself for a break, goes outside for a little bit, then comes back in and the scenario plays out almost identical like the first time but the story he tells the interviewer is different, this happens several times overall. The conversation and experiences about being a drone pilot, the stories being told, the metaphors, and in particular a story that replaces a typical scenario that can occur in a high-risk conflict area in the Middle East, where a Middle Eastern family is trying to go on a weekend family outing, but is replaced by an American family, in an American landscape, relating it to our lives, the suffering of innocent people caught up in all these conflicts.

Martha Rosler’s photomontages also deal with the same issues, where she juxtaposes advertisement imagery with imagery of war. The title of this series is House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, New Series. The combining of images makes you compare, war and daily life, consumerism and ignorance. This simple act using images that are readably available in publications to denote what is wrong with act of war and the reasons behind it leaving the viewer wondering what is normal in this world.

Jenny Holzer’s piece is very simple, a painting titled water-board. It’s a nice surprise since she mostly works with LED lights. The painting simulates an official government transcript, but on a larger scale, 55 X 44 inches, that was released to the public that has been censored by the government blocking out sensitive material, because it deals with water boarding. At first glance from far away it emulates a minimalistic painting with its blocks of black on white background, but upon seeing the words, you start to try and fill in the parts that have been hidden from us; reasoning why the government used this torture technic. Is it to protect us from the truth and to what lengths the government goes to give us security or to protect their interests. What justifies torture?

The next three artworks that got my attention were photographs. I tend to favor the medium of photography when it comes to art. The ability for the photograph to be realistic, but at the same time anti-realistic has always fascinated me, maybe because in reality there are two sides to every story, eventually we decide what side to believe in.

Trevor Paglen’s presents a beautiful image of pastel hues with almost minimalist sunset or sunrise colors, depending on how you want to interpret it. But upon viewing the title, Untitled (Reaper Drone) and paying more attention to a small detail at the bottom right hand corner the reality of its reference shatters the beauty of it, making you wonder how something so beautiful can reference the ugliness of surveillance.

An-My Le’s work references war reenactments and Timothy O’Sullivan’s Civil War imagery. I have heard of military training that emulate the terrain to prepare a soldier for combat, which she captured in one of her images, taken during a desert training for recon, but what surprised me was her other photograph of a Vietnam War reenactment. I have heard of Civil War reenactments but not of the Vietnam War, a war that America wants to forget. From what I learned people who participate take this very seriously, down to every detail of the battle, to keep it genuine. Looking at both images it becomes hard to tell between the fantasy and the real.

The last set of photographs deal with the Civil Rights Movement, in particular the killing of the 6 children in Birmingham, Alabama. Just like An-My Le’s images reflect history, Daewoud Bey does the same. In the show there are two diptychs titled The Birmingham Project: Janice Kemp and Triniti Williams and The Birmingham Project: Fred Stewart and Tyler Collins. In the massacre 4 girls were bombed in a church and 2 boys were murdered that same day. In Bey’s images he selected children as stand-ins to represent the age the children were killed and he then selected adults who are the age the children would be now, had they lived. Using a church and a museum as a backdrop for their significance to the history of the Civil Right Movement, he took the portraits of these people in almost the same posture as if they were mimicking themselves as a young version against an old version of themselves. Viewing these images made me sympathize with the innocence lost, and think, had they lived, what their potential could have been to society. The reasoning of racism and hatred has no validity when compared to a loss of human’s life.

Art has changed over the centuries, from simple story telling cave drawings, to sculptures representing deities, to religious interpretations, to burst of vivid colors of an artist interpretation, to questioning what is art, to now. Art nowadays is not a thing of beauty that hangs on a wall. Art now makes us think, question, reflect, etc. By the time you leave this exhibition you question how does humanity keep on functioning, and still be able to make sense of it all.


Postcard #5 by Robert Clarke-Davis

Postcard #5 by Robert Clarke-Davis.

Review of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at the OMA

I was very excited to have witnessed this past weekend, the inaugural show of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at the Orlando Museum of Art. It is the first time such an award and show has been executed in Central Florida and it has long been overdue. In the past the Orlando Museum of Art has been somewhat conservative but has been progressing slowly to bring a current exhibition of what is happening currently in the contemporary art world. Giving visitors a visual experience that there is more beyond abstraction, tropical sunsets, palm trees, nudes, and low-brow art. We have longed moved away from art movements of Impression, Pop Art, and Surrealism and it is nice to finally see a show that is refreshing, which is rare for viewers in Central Florida to experience unless you frequent museums in South Florida or Art Basel in South Beach. The artists that gave my senses the most impact both visually and mentally, and which I will be writing about in this post were: Sarah Max Beck, Vanessa Diaz, Ezra Johnson, Jillian Mayer, and Agustina Woodgate.

Sarah Max Beck is a sculptor. I heard her speak a couple of months ago about her process and how she got to this point as an artist making tapestries using plastic bags. It was a very personal story of how she was a caregiver and she did not know what she was doing with her life at that moment, so she started weaving plastic bags that were used to deliver newspapers, bargain newsletters, and such. Viewing these large quilts you see how colorful and beautiful plastic bags can be but at the same time upon closer inspection the smell, and the texture of the plastic makes it feel abrasive and uncomfortable unlike a normal quilt. Thoughts of large amounts of waste and longevity start to creep into my mind. Her work makes me think of El Anatsui, who also made fabric like tapestries using scrap metal which is found in large quantities in his country. Sarah’s quilts references our waste culture.

Vanessa Diaz is another artist that I had the opportunity to see prior to this exhibition, and I must say the venue where her artwork is displayed plays a big part on how I experienced her work. Her work are site specific installations, and the ones I responded to the most at the Orlando Museum of Art were; Here Enticement is Not Always Difficult, Upon Which Everything Rests, and Where Traps Can Be Set at One’s Good Pleasure. She takes objects and gives them a new form or function giving you a different perspective on an everyday object, for example Where Traps Can Be Set at One’s Good Pleasure is made up bedposts she found, which she then seamlessly joined two top ends to make them into one long piece, giving them a look of big bulky javelins piled on the floor forming a bonfire before it is lit. I found this piece funny and at the same time very real making a comment on what happens in relationships in the bedroom. Here Enticement is Not Always Difficult, and Upon Which Everything Rests made me think of missing parts of a history unknown to me, sadness, new type of furniture design, and viewing objects differently than what they have been intended for.

Ezra Johnson’s paintings I found very refreshing using very lose brush strokes, collaging pieces from magazines and other sources, and using dark colors. Reclining Nude I found both sexy and vulgar at the same time. Reclining Nude and Coffee Table Group had a mix of influences such as; graffiti, Henri Matisse, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It has been four years since I have witnessed a passionate use of brush strokes so determined in emitting genuine emotions. He also had paintings he used to create a stop motion video animation titled Stranded in a House, which heavily references William Kentridge. The video is under three minutes long but the desperation of the main character going in and out every room in the video trying to find a way out this house starts to set in.

Jillian Meyer’s work spoke to me the most, because she made me think about how technology is around us on an everyday basis, and sometimes goes undetected because, we are getting accustomed to it, or we do not question it. She uses video, installation, photography and humor to make us aware of the real world and virtual world. Simulacrums of catchy 80’s pop-tune videos (Mega Mega Upload), home shopping network, DIY’s Youtube videos, online portraits, and the sky, she makes the viewers question our interaction with the virtual world. In a small skit from her video titled PostModem, she uses satire of the home shopping network where you can purchase in just only three easy payments of $399.99 your own personal vortex where you can never feel the loss of someone close to you because you can place them in there eternally and at the same time get rid of unwanted items easily, such as a tamagotchi. Thinking about it don’t we all live in our own constructed vortex already? In her installation Cloud Swing, the viewer is welcomed to sit on a swing set, but the sky is just a projection with our shadows breaking the visual plane as we swing back and forth. Her artwork makes the viewer question the virtual versus reality, the analog versus the digital and the big roles they play in our lives.

Agustina Woodgate was this year’s recipient of Florida Prize in Contemporary Art. I can understand why since they are very beautiful pieces. Seven Seas, Milky Way, and Peacock are all made from the skin of stuffed toy animals, which references oriental rugs. Seven Seas and Milky Way start to morph into visual maps of some sort, which play well with her other two pieces; Simplified Maps and Beginning Maps, where she took world maps that hang in almost every world history class in schools, then she sanded them down erasing all the words, borders, or any information and leaving only the hues that represented the country.  In these two bodies of work she creates her own maps that have no boundaries that have been defined by society or will ever be.

Overall this exhibition is a delight in the Orlando area, and must see for people to become informed about the world of contemporary art, and the Florida artists that help create them.

Interview with Coco Fusco and Team Coco at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

Sorry for being silent for such a long period, but with me being in my last year of the MFA program things have gotten very busy.   Earlier this year I had the pleasure and privilege to interview Coco Fusco and her Team at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. This is my first time interviewing and I hope you find it interesting.

Interview with Coco Fusco and Team Coco at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

Art World aka Theme Parks.

So I live in Orlando, Florida, the world’s foremost expert in theme park experiences.  Over the weekend I flew to NYC to view James Turrell’s, Aten Reign at the Guggenheim, and Paul McCarthy’s, WS at the Park Avenue Armory.  Both were in a sense a theme park based experiences that overtook the entire interior of building they were exhibiting at.  Two polar opposite artists in every sense of the word, from the issues they address, Turrell dealing with the spiritual and how light affects our lives, and McCarthy addressing consumerism that is heavily driven with sexuality and fantasy, to the medium they work in, Turrell principally works with light, and McCarthy with video, and over the top installations.

James Turrell’s piece takes over the entire rotunda at the Guggenheim (http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/on-view/james-turrell ).  They altered the circular staircase to accommodate for the visual aspect in creating the experience of Aten Reign.  To fully enjoy this piece one needs to dedicate an hour of laying on the first floor, or grabbing a seat along the perimeter.  The best way to describe the piece is to imagine a slow moving color field, which envelops you.  The majority of the time is spent looking up that at the graduation through a spectrum of various colors.  The center circle remains a neutral white that is not apparent at first.  This neutral white is actually the natural light filtered from outside.  The more you look at it the more it becomes like a meditative piece.  You start to think how beautiful the world is in having witnessed such a beautiful creation, or things that you overlooked because you are too busy to notice the subtle changes in your daily surroundings.  Another aspect that is overlooked in the piece is that it’s a wonderful place to people watch.  Seeing the people’s reactions while they look up or lay down.  The security guard futilely repeating to the visitors that photography is prohibited.  Also the colors in Aten Reign causes a chain reaction to the colors in the room, so depending what you are wearing you will see colors become fluorescent or a different color.

Paul McCarthy’s WS, is the taking of Walt Disney’s tale of Snow White (http://gothamist.com/2013/06/18/paul_mccarthy.php#photo-1 ), and twisting the story with many references such as: biographical (the set and house is a replica of where the artist grew up), art history (Olympia by Manet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia_(Manet) ,  The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Masaccio http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsion_from_the_Garden_of_Eden), Oedipus (the relationship between the characters White Snow, the mother figure and Walt Paul aka Paul McCarthy, the son), Hollywood set designing, and to add a final topping to the cake McCarthy mimics a Disney store where actual Snow White merchandise can be purchased.  This show has an age restriction of no one under 17 is allowed to enter.

I will admit that prelude to visiting WS, I saw Llyn Foulkes retrospect show at the New Museum.  Some of Foulkes work was heavily influenced by the Mickey Mouse Club handbook where his belief that Disney’s intentions are to brain wash children’s minds.

Below is an excerpt from the THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB handbook:

The primary purpose of the club is two fold:

a) It provides an easily arranged and inexpensive method of getting and holding the patronage of youngsters.

…Everyone knows how strong the “gang” instinct is in children.  The Mickey Mouse club is unique in that it…implants beneficial principles, the latter so completely shorn of any suggestions of “lessons” of lecturing, that children absorb them almost unconsciously.”

While viewing WS I saw the same issues being address by McCarthy.  His installation in the main room consisted of 3 large screens on one side of the room, with duplicate videos being shown on 3 other large screens.  They show a party that is unraveling with White Snow and her different personification (each personality wears a specific color yellow, blue, and red), since there are 3 princesses then there has to be 3 Prince Charmings, Walt Paul, and 9 dwarfs.  The movie is 7 hours long, so if you want to see the ending you need to stay till the closing.

Between the video screens there is a large set of the interior of the house where the evidence and bodies of the party gone wrong remain, including the smells of the food left over.  The sets are the same location viewed in the videos.  Of course you can’t forget the magical forest where White Snow and the Dwarfs reside in, which was recreated but in plastic plants and trees that have the color of human excrement and somewhat shape like it.  Also located within the forest the artist offers you an exterior view of the house, with its white trim and yellow siding.  The side rooms in the armory include videos showing.  These videos are chapters to the story.  One video includes Prince Charming having intercourse with an animated sex doll of White Snow, basically he is trying to revive our princess.  The strongest video for me was Adam & Eve, Etant Donnes.   Seeing WS and Walt Paul running naked in slow motion and the slowing down of the audio their voices calling in agony, you feel the pain, shame, and the gravity of the crime they have committed.  It heavily references The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Going through the different viewing aspects of the installation; eye level, peeping through windows, cut out holes, from below, and from up above, you feel like you are in a Disney amusement ride minus the cart on the rails, and the innocence.  The viewer is constantly bombarded visually and especially auditory, no matter where you go it mixes with other sounds of the installation.

Both exhibitions or should I dare to say theme rides, was such an interesting clash of perspectives, but powerful and strong artistic statements.  One installation being so meditative and spiritual, while the other installation being perverted and decadent, showing the ugly side of humanity in a very pessimistic way.  But of course real life works the same way in that you have good days and bad days and to me this is the beauty of seeing both works back to back.

Review of SNAP! in Orlando

SNAP! took place this past weekend, which is a five-day photography festival.  Three years running and with each year the festival grows in bring in a talented scope of photographers/artists that work in this medium.  This year’s theme was Motion to Light.

Over the years SNAP! has shown photographs that are very beautiful, and this year is no exception, for example Jill Greenberg’s portraits of horses; sharp, clean, large, luscious, and mesmerizing to look at, in other words eye candy.  SNAP! organizers try to bring different genres of photography such as: fashion, commercial, documentary, portraiture, and conceptual, but the main qualification that dominates what gets into the show is eye candy, and I believe this to be a handicap sometimes.

In this critque I have decided to only write about photographs/art I found interesting in the festival:

Stephen Knapp’s (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqWnU3ClG6I) light painting titled Next Yesterday, grabbed my attention at first glanced.  This piece was installed on the second floor with one directional light, its beam broken up my various shapes and sizes of glass that created color fields as the light shined through.  It reminded me a little of Dan Flavin’s installations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Flavin), but without the fluorescent tubes, and this twist grabbed my attention with is jagged edges, and the way the light traveled from intense colors to soft hues in various directions creating a kaleidoscope on the wall.  His photos on the other hand were too closely related to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and I felt the images functioned as documentation of his light installations.

George Rousse’s work came to mind when I saw Jeff Frost’s photographs, but the videos he made I found strong and captivating, again a twist on something that has been done before, but mixing video and stop motion into the artwork.  He showed three videos titled: Flawed Symmetry of Prediction, Modern Ruins, and War Paint for Trees, the videos not only references George Rousse’s work, but National Geographic, NASA, movies, and news broadcasts. His installations that referenced George Rousse came to life in their creation, but at the same time he wants the audience be aware that no graphics or CGI was used to create the videos, which I believe is not necessary.  Why destroy the illusion of what is transpiring? Does the audience need to know?

The last body of work that caught my eye was the large photos of Kerry Skarbakka (http://www.skarbakka.com/portfolios/struggle.htm).  Where each image is a self-portrait of him falling from different scenarios, such as a balcony, a tree, a cliff, stairs and slipping on something in the living room.  Two images where he falls from the tree, and him is slipping, closely references Sam Taylor-Wood’s photographs (http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/sam%20taylor%20wood), where the overall feel of the movement is that of levitation and not the movement of falling, which results in being weak in what his body of work. When he blurs the line of reality and makes you believe that he is actually falling, he makes the viewer’s mind race with several questions i.e.; Did he survived his fall without major injuries?  To what point of desperation is an artist driven to capture what he is trying to convey?  Were there props to break his fall? Or how many attempts did the artist do until he felt it was perfect? And this is what makes these images intriguing and beautiful.

I want to educate people on the history of photography and to point out the differences between past and present photographers/artists, and how they work, this is why I name artists that I see have something in common.  I firmly believe SNAP benefits the Orlando area in educating the public on current themes and trends in photography that is seldom seen here since we live in a world dominated by theme parks.

The Object.

This article is a continuation of a past post titled A Thought.

For two weeks a notebook lay on top of a transformer outdoors, exposed to the elements until I took possession of the notebook.  To my surprise it was full of slide transparencies depicting religious themes.  I travel through life looking for signs from a higher power, and so I wonder if God was speaking to me through the slide images I had found.

My father once said that the Bible states “men should get as close to God as possible,” by which my father interpreted: one should get as physically close as possible to the church altar on Sundays.

I take on the role of a minister by simulating a transcendental experience.  The sculpture that I have created is the size and shape of a real transformer,which is fabricated of translucent white acrylic by me to give it an otherworldly look and be installed as a church altar.  In my exhibition, I place the notebook on top of my acrylic version of the transformer, leaving the notebook open, to invite the curious, to reflect as I did on the religious themes displayed.

The Salon

Two weeks ago I attend what might be my last Salon held by the Atlantic Center for the Arts.  My second year as an MFA candidate is coming to a close and usually third year candidates are not invited to attend the Salon, giving the opportunity and the experience for the incoming class and the second years.

The Atlantic Center for the Arts is a residency program that operates year round.  Each residency session has three master artists usually made up of one visual artist, one composer, and one writer.  For supporters of the program they have a night, usually a Thursday night that is a mix of a meet and greet, and show and tell of the artists, titled “The Salon.”

The night of the Salon the artists presented in the following order: Carolyn Forché- poetry/memoir, Richard Teitelbaum – composer, and Pat Oleszko- visual and performance art.   Carolyn talked about her experience second time around as a master artist in residency at the ACA, her new memoir about her experiences in El Salvador in the late seventies, and finally read a poem about her battle with cancer with a friend who succumbed to the disease.  Richard spoke about a opera that he is composing about the Rabbi Sabbatai Zevi, who claimed to be the Messiah, declared war on the Ottoman Empire, and who was then forced to convert to Islam.  Richard mostly works with electronic music, but for the opera he is working with traditional instruments, and singers.  The opera is performed in five different languages.

Please keep in mind I’m not an expert in literature or music, but Carolyn’s poem was very good, giving hope and inspiration in handling the difficulties of life.  Richard’s opera is an interesting idea, but the story doesn’t have a large audience appeal.  What crossed my mind was what if somebody wrote a modern day opera, but sung and composed like Verdi opera.  For example the story could be of Lindsey Lohan, Kurt Cobain, or Marilyn Monroe.   The majority of operas are tragic and yes I know of Rock Operas and Andrew Lloyd Webster, but I thought it would be interesting mixing the both to see what you get, with one hell of a light show similar to a Beyonce’ concert.

I knew a little of Pat Oleszko and her work prior to the Salon (see link below), but hearing her presentation made me appreciate her work more.  She presented in a way that an audience who is not well informed about performance art could relate and understand what she does.  She kept her art speak to a minimum; she did not over burden the audience with too much information about each performance to keep our imaginations going, and enticing us too keep listening.  By the end she had us all laughing and wanting more.  She is a court jester in today’s society, but she takes what she does very seriously, using humor primarily to tackle serious issues such as global warming.

In the past I have attended three salons where egos were big, and complications arose during the presentations, it was nice to end it with a laugh.


A thought.

Walking along a dark corridor and I come upon a glowing object in the middle of a dark room.  I’ve never seen an object like this, scared at first; my curiosity beckons me to investigate it further.  This glowing object is in a shape of box its height is just above my knee, about 30 inches, and is almost square in width.  The light that comes from within the box is bright white, intense, and comforting. It’s sleek and clean by design.

A blue book binder is on top of this box with silver duck tape holding it closed.   Pulling the duck tape off, I slowly open the binder finding it full of slides, hundreds of them in plastic sleeves.  At first I can’t make out what they are pictures of, so I pull one out of its sleeve, placing it on top of the glowing box, using it as a light box, to discover it’s a picture of the Universe.  Turning the page to another sleeve I pull another slide and it’s a picture of an Egyptian ruin.  Flipping to the middle of the book, pulling another slide, I find it’s a picture of Jesus dying on the cross.  Later noticing that each sleeve is label in Spanish by categories in the following order: Universe, Archeology, Idols, Bible, Crosses, Missions, Buildings, Bibles, Temptations, The Ten Commandments, Jesus’ birth, Jesus praying, Jesus standing, Jesus judge, Crucifixion, Jesus in Modern Times, The Second Coming, Angels, Landscapes, Flowers, and Spiritualism.   The slides are also individually labeled referencing the image.

All of this is a thought.

Understanding the Art Scene in Central Florida.

Living over 30 years in Central Florida and many art shows attendance, the major compliant I’ve heard from art lovers and artists is that there is no art scene or support for the visual arts in the area.  People love to go to art shows, but it’s mostly a social gathering.  To give you an example, the show that draws the most attention in Orlando yearly is “Nude Nite.”  It is usually held in a warehouse, charges a high admission usually $25 per person, with a cash bar/food, not only that they also charge an entry fee to artists and commission if the work is sold.  It draws large crowds and the main interest is to see naked people in artwork or naked models walking around with airbrushed paintings on them.  Sex sells, what else is new?   Other than that nothing much else happens in the sense of the art impacting the viewing public, unless you are a virgin to the local art scene.  Then it’s a sensation of a wonderfully, never seen, most spectacular exhibition in the world.  I will admit that I’ve been through this experience, but once you learn about the history of art, and go to many shows you become a little numb.   Also art really doesn’t sell unless its sugarcoated art.  There is nothing wrong with sugarcoated art, but it is a level that seems to dominate the Central Florida art scene.  The people I’ve talk to their belief or understanding of when art stopped being art is after one of the following art movements:

-Renaissance (da Vinci)

-Post-Impressionism (Van Gogh)

-Cubism (Picasso)

-Surrealism (Dali)

These are the majority of artists that are usually referenced.  I might get other artists names thrown in this mix: Michelangelo, Titian, M.C. Escher, Wyeth, Rothko, and Pollack.

From a big city’s perspective such as New York City, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles it’s not up to par.  They have better artistic communities that support each other, and the art that is displayed is more on a more of an international level.  Cities similar to Orlando’s development such as Houston also have better art scenes, why is that?  The people that have settled in the Central Florida region are mainly from the north, escaping the hustle and bustle of big city life or replacing the shoveling of the snow and freezing temperatures for warm weather and sunny beaches.  So people from the north settle here they should be bring some of the culture they were exposed to while living up north. Right?  I’m mean we have bad drivers, spring training, NY Pizzas, Philly Cheese Steaks, and Chicago Hot Dogs, why not art?

Galleries come and go, and so do some interesting artists that couldn’t make a living here.  I have discussed this theme over the years with several people to understand why Orlando’s visual art scene does not grow.   By grow I mean why the art that is shown is not touching conceptual themes, why do local galleries keep showing art movements that are long gone.

Reason 1) Orlando is a transient city.  The very talented get restless here in a town that stifles them.   Orlando lacks the community support to make people want to stay for a long period to see their fruition bare to fruit that they are so passionate about.   Some people do succeed, but the stain power does not last because of a finicky consumerism.

Reason 2) The Mouse controls everything.  The majority of Orlando’s local government caters to the Walt Disney Corporation in meeting their needs, because tourism feeds our hand.  Disney does contribute to the arts, but it mostly all goes to performing arts.  Disney and the surrounding parks employ the majority of the local artistic community, which are performers and designers.   To say that these corporations have a say in what visual art is shown is hard to believe that it dictates what kind of art is acceptable and what is not.  I think Disney is too occupied patrolling the Internet for copyright infringement or the reselling of Disney property on Ebay to worry about what Joe Schmoe is showing in some gallery.

Reason 3) The majority of people who live in Central Florida relate to Disney as an art form, including the theme park experience (Universal, Sea World, etc.).  People want an escape from reality and for them it’s “The Parks.”  I have many friends who have annual passes to several of these parks and go routinely.  They are entertained by the fantasy becoming a reality.  The same experience can be attained in the movies, cable, movies on demand, and video games.  Yes, this is an art form that is very lucrative, and allows us not to think except when our stomachs tells us we are hungry, so we need to decide what to eat.  When the escapism is over we then think about the experience that has transpired and how it relates to us.  The reaction is similar to art hanging on the wall and what we take from that piece.  I believe that Orlando has a big concentration of people wanting to escape, and this group’s definition of art lies in the fantasy realm.

Reason 4) People are not educated about the current visual arts world or they do not care to understand since the theme do not relate to their everyday life.  Conceptual art is very intimidating, especially when you don’t understand why it’s considered art.  People’s understanding of art is you paint what you see or feel, and the painting is suppose to show the mastery of paint, and leave you with a good feeling.  Conceptual art is not only visual based, but recreates an experience, reinterprets history or an issue, makes you interact, makes you aware of an issue, or makes you aware of the complication or simplicity of the surroundings.

I believe that there is not one specific reason to why the art scene has not thrived, but it is a culmination of the above reasons.