Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

support indie arts-- much

To be fair, I cannot place myself in a category of great literary writers. I don't even want to be. I want to write what is in me to write. I want to do it as good as it's possible for me to do. I want my stories to have a value beyond a good read for what they teach about life; but in the essence, I'm not interested in writing War and Peace. So, I can't claim when my books get ignored that someone is suppressing great art.

But what I am thinking about now is how little the culture in which I live (and maybe any human culture) really supports creative work of any indie sort unless its free or appears to be the kind to make a lot of money. Most literary type readers (and there are exceptions) read what the NY Times (or other newspaper reviewers) says is great literature or what their book group ordered. That's what they will buy (or be given if it's a book group that is funded). Exploring other types of books-- not so much.

When the Shades of Grey books caught on and became a phenomena, they were put down as mommy porn even though they sold millions and will lead to a movie. Now I cannot claim to know how good they were as I haven't read them-- even though I did buy them to see what the brouhaha was about. One of these days I'll sit down and actually read one. They began though as indi and went mainstream and corporate when money was apparently being made by them. Story of this whole issue.

Where it comes to musicians, those who write their own music, how much support do they get from anybody? I just read a blog where the musician, who is good-- I've heard him-- is [giving up on doing it as a profession]. People want it for free; so they go to a lounge, sit there, order some wine or beer, enjoy the show, but paying for it? Not so much. They will pay a fortune to go to see a big name act at a stadium because somebody promoted that and then it has value-- guy down at the corner bar, not so much.

And it's not different with painters or sculptors. Millions go out to buy a Van Gogh because he's a big name investment. When he was alive how much could he make? He got supported by his brother as best I remember it.

I have a good friend, Diane Widler Wenzel, who is a gifted painter. Her work is as good as anybody out there painting in her style; but she hasn't played the networking game and hence her work is not valued as highly as those who have. To stay true to her muse, her own artistic voice, she now mostly puts it places (libraries, care facilities, stores) it can be seen for free.

Before I put out my first book or my last one, I wondered how well they'd be supported by the reading public. What I found is-- give it for free and thousands grab them. Buy them? Only a few have gone that far to support my writing. And I do appreciate all those who have. It has meant more to me than they'll ever know.

The problem is what we get for free, we don't appreciate so much and hence I won't do free ever again (except to get professional reviews or for friends). For awhile though it made me feel good to see so many thousands of my books go out until I realized most probably never even got read... What we buy, we value. So where are we valuing?

Maybe I am sounding a little depressed here but that's because I am. I wonder if other cultures encourage the arts or is it just us who do not. I would understand it if we were a starving people. Arts are not what you can put on your plate and eat. If you are living in Syria, you are worried about bombs dropping, not artistic support. That's not us in the US though-- other than worrying what our government is potentially lying us into.

Even more upsetting to me than adult artists not finding a living at it is what is happening in a lot of our schools where art and music have often been taken out unless totally supported by the parents-- which takes it away from those families living on minimum wage. Football-- no problem to fund. Excuse me but what's the deal? Art is for the spirit and football for the body?

What are our values as a nation?

 And in keeping with the spirit of this piece, supporting indie artists, here is the link to a gifted photographer who has put out a [calendar for 2014]. Give it a look.


Hattie said...

Thought provoking,as always. I have been thinking about these matters,too. And I love the hibiscus flower photos.

I think in a way it isn't money we want so much as feedback. We aren't starving artists,after all.
After two years of doing ceramics I finally have made some pieces that others have praised. I knew my work wasn't all that great as I was learning how do what I wanted with clay, but now positive feedback
is telling me I'm going in the right direction.
Still,The important thing is to make art for its own sake and not for extrinsic reasons. Of course,and especially in the US we honor productivity and making money as our highest values. Andy Warhol knew that and made a fortune, as did Salvador Dali,but they were still artists.
Well I'm rambling around and it's time to get busy with Saturday chores!

Rain Trueax said...

Good thoughts, Hattie, as usual. With the books, the issue isn't money but rankings. If there are no books sold, Amazon puts you further and further from being seen for future readers. I suspect there is some of that for painters in galleries also. Sell a lot and get prestige positions. Don't sell and you won't stay. I remember seeing the work of an artist who had changed style shoved into the darkest corner of the gallery that showed her other work. I asked about it and it was because the customers only wanted what she'd always done. It's quite an interesting world-- that of the arts both in the creating end and then the putting it out somewhere part.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

I have been with craft groups who believed that their work should be recognized by being purchased giving them a living.
Thank you for the link to my blog. I appreciate it.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Have you ever seen "SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE"? It is a Brilliant Musical by Stephen Sondheim and it us about the creation of ART and the "commerce" of Art....I believe it is rentable and the Superb Mandy Patankin is "George" and Bernadette Peters, as his Muse....it is very moving and, to my personal senseabilities, a very truthful view of the so called ART World, and how one must stay true to oneself...No Matter What.
So much of what you are talking about in this post is a big part of what this Musical is about---ART and COMMERCE and the Critics who so often hold our fate in their hands...!
I hope you are able to rent it Rain. Just writing about it here, I wish I could see it once again, right this minute. It is so very inspiring!!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Here is the link on Netflix for the DVD of "SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE", my dear.....

Rain Trueax said...

Thank you for the link, Naomi. Currently I don't have Netflix but if we get it again in the future, which we probably will by winter, I'll put it at the top of the list. I like his work and this sounds good.

Creating is the enjoyable part of it all. It's rewarding and satisfying to put together a story that not only has some action but some life lessons. It's the getting others to see it, that's the un-enjoyable part. And when your work is rejected if it's been from your own heart and soul, be that music, painting, photography or writing, it's you that is being rejected. I can well see why J.D. Salinger didn't put anything else out during his lifetime after Catcher in the Rye and yet continued to write. He could then write for himself not the NYTimes critics. There are two stages to creativity-- one doing it and the other putting it out beyond yourself. A friend said it's selfish to not put it out. I think it's a choice and we each have to decide how well we handle rejection in the doing of it ;)

Tara Crowley said...

THANK YOU Rain, for the shout out.

My thoughts regarding artistic endeavors mirror yours. We, as a culture, don't value the artist's efforts unless they are "collectible" and then somehow that become worthy of our dollars.

I buy art from indie artists all the time -- I love the work, and I love supporting the small independent. My home is filled with beautiful pieces that I love.

I do find that fellow artists, such as yourself, are more supportive than folks who don't produce art. We know the creative experience, and the joy of selling our work.

Rain Trueax said...

Mine too, Tara. I think I'll do a blog sometime that shows a bit of the art and crafts we have collected from indie artists starting from early in our marriage. Some of it later we outgrew or changed our interests and passed on. Much we still have and love.

robin andrea said...

You ask interesting questions here, rain. We have bought a few pieces of art of the years, and are really glad to have them. Our neighbors are artists; they actually make a living selling their art. It is hard work, and they are at it all the time. They live and breathe art. They don't own their home. They live one piece of sold art at a time.

I think when someone is driven to do art, they do it no matter what. They will piece a life together to have time to enjoy their muse.

Kay Dennison said...

Absolutely lovely!!!

This quitting smoking is gonna kill me with all the other 'stuff' going on!

Mea Culpa!

Rain Trueax said...

I am just glad you are quitting, Kay. I'm proud of you as it isn't easy I know from family members who quit.