Being locked down for the better part of two years due to the pandemic, I spent considerable time online looking at art. Over the last two years I sat back and watched algorithms play a significant role in artists gaining notoriety. The art in my feeds also became a sanitized, sterilized, and repetitive experience. To me art is personal. Algorithms produce a more personalized and tailored experience when viewers are presented with product choices and art is no exception. My experience with these algorithms has been a presentation of homogenized items for sale targeting my likes. Algorithms don’t take risks and I believe great artists and collectors take risks.
Today’s artists are more diverse in their subject matter than at any other time in history. Glass designed to look like plastic bad filled with water and bubbles, fine textiles raising money for ravaged localities, paintings of mylar balloons, bamboo sculptures, bone sculptures, fine art crafted to look like everyday items and on, and on, and on. Collectors can also purchase art from nearly any location on Earth from the comfort of their own home. Shipping has been refined to the point where one should feel comfortable receiving an incredibly expensive piece of art shipped by a professional from any part of the globe. The world of art has never been so diverse and and easily accessible.
With the world quite literally at our fingertips, we have become a captive audience waiting to be presented with tailorized content ranging from news and disinformation to art. Tailorizing the content we see makes a very few people more money than they could spend in hundreds of generations. These are the same people who can game the system to make even more obscene amounts of money as the rest of the world struggles… I’m about to go on a rant about gluttony, disparity, and doing what’s right for humanity so I’ll end this paragraph here.
All of this tailorizing makes a uniform and a well-educated assumption about who we are, what we like, and what we will purchase. Algorithms are used to reaffirm our beliefs and make us feel comfortable. I don’t think art should make us feel comfortable all the time. I think the best art makes us think or makes our brains contort a little.
There are a few galleries I have on speed dial for artists I like because I feel so comfortable with them. One of those is a gallery in New Orleans which I have yet to visit in person. I really appreciate the comforting familiarity of those galleries and gallerists. It’s nice to walk into (or dial up) a gallery and be greeted by name and have personal conversations with people I care about as I’m given liberty with their collection. However, what really excites me is walking into a gallery and being shown artists which are new to me. I love discovering new artists; preferably living ones. Algorithms will never afford me the ability to truly explore uncharted waters. Google helps but it’s still me looking for something I entered in the search box.
A stereotype so common in the art world is one of snobbery. Stereotypes are there for a reason in my opinion. Some stereotypes are dated and no longer true, but they were there for a reason at one point in time. With that being said… I may be old, but I am not naïve, I know corporations now create false stereotypes to fit demographics based on algorithms so they can sell information, disinformation, and products but I’m talking about the old-school stereotypical art snob now… I never want to be one. Nor do I want to be an art critic. I want to continue to explore artists and their creations, I don’t want to tear any artist down. I am human but normally keep my snarky side about art to my friends. So, don’t be surprised if you do see me exercising my human nature occasionally.
I want to share my art explorations with you. I think many artists simply lack exposure. It is my intent to focus on living artists I like and give them a little more exposure. I know that last line is going to rub a lot of artists the wrong way, but I cannot cover every living artist on the planet, nor do I want to. There is one thing I will say right now, if you are an artist reaching out to me to do a piece on you… You just most likely just slammed the door shut on that possibility. Anyone who wants to pay me to do a piece on a specific artist… I’ll be offended and block your email address and phone number. I want to be free to explore art free of any financial ties other than the slim possibility of making money off of advertising as I explore art. I don’t want to be tied to any financial obligations when it comes to art. I want to keep art personal for myself.
Like I said… I may be old, but I am not naïve. I do know money is bonded to fine art and fine art is bonded to money. I’m also keenly aware of how art can appreciate rapidly and how it can be part of a well-balanced portfolio. I would never advocate for tossing all of your retirement into art. Nor would I suggest spending money on something you didn’t love simply because I thought it a sound investment. If I ever get to the point where I’m saying I am buy more of artist X because I think doing so is a sound investment… That’s just my opinion, not advice.
Have I purchased or commissioned pieces by a specific artist sight unseen because it seemed like a sound investment? Yes, but the catch is those pieces are by artists who I love. I also had faith each piece would be stellar and cherished. Each one has been proudly displayed in the primary living space of our home. I hope to help others find artists they feel comfortable buying pieces from sight unseen. I also hope my readers and viewers can help me find other artist I feel comfortable with buying pieces from sight unseen.
My other hope is that doing this blog will expose me to artists which no algorithm or gallery would have ever shown me. I’ve been very lucky to have traveled as much as I have, but the word is too large to see in its entirety let alone look at all the art which is available when we travel. One human can only get a very partial glimpse of all the great artwork being created today. My hope is that my readers and viewers will provide a fuller glimpse of all the wonderful artists out there for myself, and that I can pass along many of those artists and their works. Please do not be offended if I don’t reply or cover an artist you send me… It’s just me and I have a day job, family, friends, another blog, and a lot more exploring to do.