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.