I am keenly aware that on this planet, a lot of getting ahead depends on who you know, or who...you know. In the Bay area, this is blatantly rampant. Gallerists are wooed and befriended constantly, and of course, everyone is either starving or needing more money. Some artists work this like streetwalkers on Florida avenue on payday, others do not and suffer for it. Even at the lower rings of Hades that bloggers inhabit, I get a lot of smoke rings blown my way. Everyone, myself included, falls for this in different degrees at different times, and it is not good. It builds little locked social rings, a clubby/ stale arts scene, meaningless elites, hollow friendships and Artlords, to name a familiar five.
It is particularly rampant in shows that are closed calls. Open calls take more time, reviews, etc., but they also allow new blood to filter in. Yes, our best deserve recognition and ensuing rewards, but some of them have yet to be discovered, as do others who are excellent artists but not socially adept. It is not so much that they deserve a chance, which they do, but that the viewers and the arts scene at large deserve to benefit from new faces, ideas, and hybrid vigor.