The “Smoke and Mirrors” of the Artist Statement

If you knew me you would know that my sense of humor is a bit unorthodox.

I was reading the artist statement/bios of two people today and got a small chuckle.  Not only were these statements a grueling 10-12 paragraphs long each, they were rattling on and on about all the important people they have studied with, and all the prestigious societies and boring made up memberships they held:   National Portrait Society of …., The National Watermedia Society, The European American Abstract Form, etc…. Which, of course is not unheard of.

So, as I was glossing over these organizations as I thought to myself how much more interesting it would be if they read:  The National Portrait Society of Deformed Beings (Think Diane Arbus), The Regional Forum of  Turpentine Sniffers, The Bele Chere of Chez Fla Fla Flah, and The National Abstract Collective of Lost Souls & Art Supplies. OK, so those are a bit lame, but you catch my drift.

I laughed because, first of all, I fell asleep half way through them telling me how important they were (are?), but no matter how many people they have studied with, and how many organizations and memberships you tell me they are a part of, and how many homeless orphans they have saved with their paintings  – but they have not won any awards or grant money, and their art will still range from mediocre to boring. Contrived and transparent. Ant least make up something interesting.

I mean we all do it to some extent.  It is the yucky part of selling yourself.  If I don’t tell you how important I am or how much crap I have gotten into, all the awards, grants, and fellowships I have won, or all the things I have associated with – how will you ever know how cool I am?  Or the real value of my work?  But there is a fine line between narcissism, what is actually earned, and what (memberships/titles) are bought.  Sometimes all this  highfalutin jargon and made up societal organizations are a feeble attempt to cover up the fact that the art  sucks. And if we don’t have the background to back it up – who knows if what you read about someone is made up?  Why is it all necessary?  Can’t you just look at a work and see if you like it or not and move from there.  You know – Art for Arts Sake. I guess it is just not that easy.

So I was on my way out the door this afternoon to go to my art opening and I was planning on printing out a few copies of my  artist statement to set about – and at the last minute I decided against it.  I was not in the mood to tell you how important I am or how prolific my art is.  At the moment, I am currently annoyed that the whole artist statement even  needs to exist. But  I guess it does.


So here is what I want my my next Artist Statement to really read:

I was a child. I created.  While other girls were playing with dolls, I was making them, and painting them.  I went to school and studied art.  I have worked as a faux painter, muralist, and in a handful of museums and galleries along the way.  I have my own studio & gallery now.  I have always been an artist.  I have not had a single job where I did not exhibit a large amount of creativity.  I was not a salesman, lawyer, plumber, or some other important schim schmamm tool in a former life.  I have always been an artist.  As a result of that, yes, I am poor.  I will not try and convince you that being an artist is glamorous.  I am not a member of any organizations, art related, or not; fake or real, nor do I desire to be.  I am a non-joiner; the devils advocate.  I have not studied with anyone of any sort of caliber of importance to you, nor to I plan on ever taking another art class again.  Seriously.  I am just that good – I don’t need to learn any thing else.  I have never studied or painted anywhere cool like France or Italy.  Not that I wouldn’t if given the opportunity,  but remember I mentioned the fact that I am poor. I am not going to try and throw in some big words so to try and convince you that I am educated.  You have got to trust me.  I am important and really good at what I do.   I will really be famous some day – just ask my Mom.

Listed below are a few noteworthy  accomplishments.  Don’t mind the fact that there are not any dates, or specifics – I am too lazy to look them up, and besides, how are you going to know if I am lying or not?

– Exhibitions:  The Columbus Museum, The Cummer Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art – Jacksonville (MOCA), The NYU Washington Square East Gallery, Gasparilla, Coconut Grove, Dogwood Festival, Magic City Art Connection, Mt. Dora, Images, Texas National……

– Publications:  The Florida Times Union, The Folio, The Black & White (Cover), The Current, Creative Loafing, Express News, Artist of Amelia, The Islander, Southern Living,  Amelia Now, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, The Daytona- Beach News Journal…..

– Collections:  Some lady who use to own the Tampa Bucaneers, the guy who was the president of  Health South and went to prison, some guy who owns a bunch of fancy restaurants in Tampa and Clearwater, Frost National Bank, A  former (dead) Florida State Representative, a CFO in NYC, Some lady in Georgia who is a Coco-Cola heiress, The Addison House, Some lady that is on the board of Directors of almost everything in Jacksonville,  Baptist Memorial Hospital…..

The End


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