Thursday, February 26, 2009

Perception vs. Reality

I spend my days dealing with, shaping, and influencing these two things—for brands, for organizations, for myself. You have the way things are and the way things appear to be. There's what people think. Then there's what we'd like them to think. There's what people see. Then there's what we want them to see. Simple. Right? Hope everybody's still with me.

Well, when it comes to art, especially art right here in the Las Vegas Valley, especially, especially in Henderson, there's no greater need for clarification. And more than simply defining things clearly, it seems there is a need to push ourselves perhaps to and beyond the point of being challenged; maybe even to the point of being a little (or a lot) uncomfortable.

Normally, I'm totally onboard with the articles I see being written about the local art scene, its growth, resurgence, proliferation, or complete lack thereof. Today I read an article, however, that got me going in a completely different way. Initially, I took offense. The first three paragraphs were unflattering and mildly condescending in their tone, suggesting that the subject matter portrayed in many pieces rendered locally is flimsy, shallow, and less-than-fit for inspired conversation. There was a subtle allusion to the work being superficial and elementary.

Then, somehow the article redeemed itself by not being totally unflattering. It seemed almost pitifully empathetic to the plight of the local artist. In the end, I didn't get upset because, while I may have said it differently, much of what was being said is exactly right.

The perception within local art organizations is one thing. That of the public on the outside looking in is altogether different, much like what a painter intends when painting is often a far cry from what passes through the mind of the viewer. The perception of our art community is that it is small, quaint, safe, and trailing edge. The reality of it is, in many ways, pretty close to the perception. But it can be changed and it will.

I took these allegations personally and to heart. My instinct was to come to the immediate defense of all of my fellow artists, for whom I take time out to write, applaud, and support here.

The reality is, there is an overwhelming amount of artistic talent between us but often it is not promoted, displayed, or showcased properly. Or, in an effort to represent each of us fairly, we represent all of us unjustly. But, honestly, to the author's credit, I wholeheartedly agree that more of the same is not going to get us the results we need to see, now or even when there's a drastic economic turnaround.

So, after suppressing my initial wave of outrage, I could appreciate the article for its candor and the unintentional back-handed methodology within it that lit a spark within me. I know the author's intentions were as good as my own and she is in fact much more advocate or ally of the art community than she is adversary. Please click on the link and read it in its entirety.

Also, know that new positions have been created on the HAA board and old ones have been filled by other standing board members and even a few new ones. There will be a General Meeting on the 22nd of March to discuss the state of the local art scene and the role we play within it. Within the next few days, I will proudly post and announce the names of winners from the juried City Lights show at the Liberace Museum and congratulate all who participated and went home with honors.

Art may not be flying off the shelves or walls, as it were, right now but someday it will again. While it's relatively quiet, let's take stock and collectively work on our perception to create a more beautiful and bountiful reality.

No comments: