Suzi Gablik nails it again

January 31, 2011

Regaled by marketing strategies for artists, websites for selling your work more effectively etc, I am always gratified to find some support for the view that this all leaves out a great portion of what art’s purpose is.  I have found staunch support for this view, once again from a long-standing heroine of mine, Suzi Gablik. I came across an article of hers recently which completely confirms my own take on the subject, so I’ll share some of it here, paraphrased.

There are two predominant schools of artists right now, the familiar autonomous artist, isolated from society, working with an art ‘in defiance of the social good and without any moral earnestness’. And secondly, artists who want art to have some socially worthy agenda outside of itself.

Old art systems and networks (dealer-curator-museum-critic) are not serving the new impulses in the arts, and they are showing signs of strain. New networks and collectives are emerging in the internet, creating a completely new context for art and artists. 

Gablik sees signs of art becoming ‘purposeful’ again. All her professional life she has been writing about alternatives to art as a commodity and has been considering art in the context of spiritual and moral values, not just commercial ones. 

Arts and ethics have been split for a long while, but now ‘a more ethical artistic vision is already functioning among us’.  She cites examples like Adbusters, and the Greenmuseum– artists who are taking a stance on some social or environmental problem and using their creativity to bring healing, understanding, and awareness into that area.

All of this clearly represents a critical shift in the definition of an art object. These networking social activities, which integrate complex strands from many disciplines into an open unity and bridge many different areas of knowledge, also require a real rewiring of institutional DNA. Specialization has been displaced by another organizing principle—decentralized creativity—in which the individual artist becomes a structural component in a society of selves that fit their contributions together in mutual enrichment.   

Gablik sees the period of ‘value free experiment coming to an end’. And that the overspecialisation and division of professional fields is being gradually absorbed by an intimate connection of all fields to each other. She sees us all moving toward an understanding that art is integrated into all aspects of life and all aspects of life are contained in art.

For the whole article click on this link  – Suzi Gablik   Beyond the Disciplines: Art without Borders.


If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I am an artist who has been trying to find or create alternatives to the way art is presently viewed (thought of) in our society.

My main bone of contention is that when it comes to art, money is not and cannot be the bottom line. But if we are to survive from our art, then what alternatives do we have besides playing the game according to the prevailing commercial rules? Every artist of integrity wrestles with this dilemma.

If you are an artist and feel resistance to the urgings from your environment and the society in general to market yourself and your art as just another product; to work the social sites to gain customers, and to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to attract buyers, then you are not alone. You are also not crazy!

You are doing what artists are meant to do- questioning the current status quo and going against the current mainstream to create a life that feels meaningful to you based on your own internal values.

There are some of us who are lucky enough to survive financially this way. In Holland, however, only 1% of all artists can survive solely from their work.  I think that most of us need to supplement our income by part-time work in another field, or one close to our creative skill area if we can find it.

 However I also feel there are ways to sell our work that not only don’t compromise our integrity but help to build a new, more community based art, see next post.

 Continued from previous post

‘… I also feel there are ways to sell our work that not only don’t compromise our integrity but help to build a new, more community based art’.

First of all, I’d like to introduce a term I got from Sir Ken Robinson’s book, ‘The Element’ProAm– ‘a type of amateur that works at increasingly higher standards and generates breakthroughs sometimes greater than those being made by professionals’, (from ‘The Pro-Am Revolution’a report for the British think tank Demos, Charles Leadbeater, Paul Miller).

I think that many of the craftspeople and artists breaking new ground as far as creating a niche for their work are working this way- part time: young mothers or fathers, professionals with other jobs, etc. The ones I’ve observed are not making enough to survive from their work, and most of them haven’t been in business for more than 5 years. But their work is gaining a following and their businesses growing stronger. Read the rest of this entry »

Pop-up gallery

January 17, 2011

Annet invited me to the Pop-up gallery where she and several other women artists were exhibiting. I went there on Saturday and had a really inspiring morning.

It was held at Sandra’s house and the event included a living room concert on Friday evening followed by the gallery opening on Saturday. The word ‘gallery’ here does not refer to ’empty white box’. Think instead-someone’s cozy but light living room, transformed into a container for wonderful handmade things.  The village where it was held was familiar to me and I hadn’t heard of this gallery before. Looking for it, I got caught up in a wonderful maze of small streets with charming houses. There were no signs indicating the gallery, but that made it seem all the more like discovering a hidden treasure when I finally found the house and walked in to a beautiful, light room, smelling of paper, tea and baking- and full of handmade art and craft.

Annet's teapots

'Pouring out care' teapots by Annet

What made this concept so special besides the obvious love with which the whole event and all of the products were prepared,  was the atmosphere of being among friends. The artists who organised this event meet regularly to support and inspire each other in their art businesses and you really feel this connectedness in a number of ways. Most of the products use recycled or vintage materials, and if they don’t the colors seem to reflect a warm, homey quality anyway.  The feel, packaging and sensibilities of these three women (and another friend who wasn’t there) harmonise really well. So even though they all make different things, it felt like one related whole.

Also, the transience of the gallery was appealing. It really was a ‘pop-up’ gallery- there one moment, gone the next. A moment captured where friends, good food, interested visitors/buyers all converged for a certain amount of hours on one day, and then it all disappeared again.

What you buy, then, is not just a stitched notebook cover, as I did, or cards or a wool covered stool, but a moment of magic created by us all on that day.When I use the book  I will think back    to sitting on one of Sandra’s stools (warm bum!) eating Annet’s luscious carrot cake, (warm tummy) and having a conversation with Megan who had lived in New York (warm heart).

Crafts– hand made answers to the cold mass produced planned obsolescence articles we are coerced into buying every second. Supporting these individual artists is to support something warm, human, and fragile, but so important to our lives.

These links are to the women’s blogs, I’ve included them because the sites are mostly in Dutch.  Sandra   Annet   Megan

Megan's jewelry

Megan's hand drawn jewelry

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 29 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 203 posts. There were 44 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 18mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 10th with 167 views. The most popular post that day was About me.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were artwell.nl, artheals.org, phoenix.craigslist.org, facebook.com, and edtajchman.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jeroen krabbe, jeroen krabbe paintings, oil pastels, artist sponsor, and guerilla art.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


About me July 2008


Jeroen Krabbé exhibition, Zwolle May 2008


Reasons to sponsor artists May 2008
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