Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On the Issue of "Exposure".

The City of St. Pete is going to offer artists the "opportunity" to hang their work on government office walls -- for nothing except "exposure". The City is hardly the first or only place to donate walls in exchange for free art. The artist is supposed to benefit from "exposure". Some Artists' organizations actively seek walls for their members to hang their work and get "exposure".

As frequent readers of this blog should know, I have deep reservations about this kind of thing -- and charity auctions of donated work. In the former case, the work simply becomes wallpaper after  few days. This is not just for government offices, but for eateries, waiting rooms, buses, bathrooms, etc.

This move by the City of St. Pete belies superficial support for the arts. This was a golden opportunity to show artists the money. Did the contractors donate their work for exposure? I doubt it.
Do elected officials work without pay for exposure? No, but artists are supposed to. This should be ample warning to all artists about what the City thinks art is worth.

It has to be said that no one is strong-arming the artists to do this. They do it to themselves. I have spoken to the person that seeks out wallspace for an artists' organization in the area, and at the time had placed three-hundred works. Also many of the artists. They really believe exposure can lead to recognition, and possibly sales. Many are simply so desperate to have their work hanging on a wall that they do this. Either way, it's a fool's errand.

This prompted a Fakebook thread in which I was falsely accused of siding with the City. I do not.

Then there is the issue of donating work for charities. I believe in charitas, (charity), and in artists feeling free to donate their work as they please. But a lot of this is about rich people raising money for their causes at the artists' expense. Of course, they know the magic words that cast  spell on artists and sucker them in. My advice? Sell the work via normal channels, and donate the money.

A humble suggestion for the City. You know how the counties allow groups to place discreet signs in exchange for upkeeping sections of roads? Perhaps something similar could be created wherein the sponsors would donate (rent or purchase) money to the artists for the works and in turn they would get a sign visible within the room for...exposure.

--- Luis

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