Culture wars Summer Art Market Workshops

Millions of Monkeys are banging away in the back room on surplus Remington Selectrics, hard at work on the long-awaited Squishtoid Manifesto…well, wait.

It appears they’re actually working on the long promised World Cup brackets, actually.

Anyway, it appears the monkeys and I have gotten a bit behind. I’ve been getting ready for the Art Students League Summer Art Market, the best little street fair in the Rocky Mountains. Making art, then framing and shrink wrapping it, all while preparing to teach a workshop, and doing a small gallery show at Open Press. Though now the Spring workshop has finished, freeing up a little time.

Teaching a workshop has been good. Good for paying bills, good for focusing my thoughts on what I try to do with monotypes, good for making new friends. I’m very happy when I walk into school Tuesday mornings. Do something you love, and never work a day in your life, as the saying goes. I thanked the artists by bringing them donuts. Show people you like them by feeding them gluten, corn syrup and fat, I say! 

 The social qualities of art don’t get talked about. Art is supposed to be good for you, and those who go see it or collect it are generally seen as sophisticated. But the people you meet when you go to art shows, and art fairs and the conversations you have are just more satisfying. Much daily conversation in America seems to center around sports. I have plenty of sporting friends so I am one who joins in. 

 Though sports has a metaphoric value, let’s remember that art IS metaphor. Sports is like weather- it makes for good small talk, but deeper conversations are relatively rare. Art takes friendship into the realm of the spiritual without getting into the tricky, and sometimes contentious area of religious spirituality. 

 I’m including music and theatre in the general term art, but no place is more informal and cheaper to meet people than an art show, especially an opening or fair. And art is Colorado’s 5th largest employer! ( I’m sure other states can boast of similarly surprising numbers). By going to an art show, or taking a class, you not only enrich your own life, you help the economy. 

 One more point. With the extremists mobilizing often from right-wing mega-churches, and using these cultural centers to organize and exchange best practices, the Centrists and Liberals have no equivalent meeting ground ( unless you count PTA’s and Universities, themselves often under attack from extremists and tea-bagger types.) Urban neighborhood bar culture and Union Halls used to perform this function, but have been nearly legislated out of existence due to concerns about drunk driving and the prevailing anti-worker sentiment in government. So cultural institutions, from big civic mega-museums to art galleries, music clubs or street fairs will do just fine for starting a conversation. And change begins with EXchange! Sometimes, we have to talk ‘n’ walk, before we walk the talk. 

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