Yikes, this goes to show that it's easy to complain but hard to actually come up with solutions to problems. When people rant how idiotic politicians are I wonder what the hell an "average joe" is going to think will work. #43 is a prime example, don't go to the doctor, save money, find out a year later you have advanced cancer that could have been detected early.
The Mona Lisa is art and so is Dogs Playing Poker. The “taste” of each work can be greatly debated with no resolve, that’s art. But I never stated I have some “special insight” in to what is or isn’t art. That is not my issue.
My point is that if an artist paints a red wall and writes in black letters “I Love Memphis” then sure, that is art because anything and everything can be art. But is there a compromise in it when it’s required to use the name/motto of the blog behind the project? Or to have a Twitter hashtag painted on it as well? That sounds like advertising to me. Is advertising art? Sure, why not. Should it not even be an issue if the artist is willing to make it? I suppose not but I know many talented professional local artists who were very excited about this large scale project only to find out that it’s actually being done for free by students in a mural class. To me that reeks of an agency looking to promote its brand, and in an exploitive sense press on the local creatives to get free, long-lasting advertising designed and produced throughout the city and expect the public to appreciate it because it can still be called art. After all, anything can be called art.
This city is notorious for asking the creative community to do something for next-to-nothing pay or actually nothing. Your article wonderfully shows how organizations and people are overcoming that mentality and getting the creative community its deserved value and respect. Which is why I would think that something like the I Love Memphis mural project would be deemed as exploitive and adverse to Memphis’ artistic reputation.
I never said the I Love Memphis mural(s) is bad art. You brought that subject up and suggest that people relate to bad art. Do you yourself, saying that you don’t “love” the project, think this is “bad” art? If so, and enough people agree to that opinion then should it be brought to the attention of the powers-that-be before we have 10 “I don’t love the I Love Memphis murals” plastered all over town?
You say I’m obnoxious to think I know what is and isn’t art, I say an art by committee project promoting a branding campaign disguised as civic patriotism and labeled as art is obnoxious. It is even more obnoxious and insulting to the professional art community that they use unpaid artists to achieve it. It is no different than flag waving to pull on the heartstrings of the crowd so ulterior motives can be implemented.
I find it disappointing that you feel that if the mural project gets people excited and engaged in public art, then it’s warranted, no matter the quality or method. People will get engaged and excited in public art if it’s something to really appreciate and show off. I love Memphis and I don’t need ten murals to remind me of that with a repetitive statement and theme. To me that comes off as a city trying to convince ourselves of that love, as if it were a Stuart Smalley Daily Affirmation. I would however love ten murals, unhindered by stipulated conditions, that were made by local, professional artists. I would also have the additional satisfaction in knowing those artists made a living here. If Memphis wants to live up to its title as “One of the Best Cities in the World for Young Artists” as stated by Flavorwire.com, then we need to realize that in major league art cities like NYC, the I Heart New York logos go on the cheesy tourist shirts for sale on the street corner, not on the public art.
Memphis is a vibrant city, full of beautiful art, music, culture, and most importantly, people.
There are so many groups in our city - both in the non-profit and for-profit sectors - that are contributing in various ways to the growth and sustainability of that vibrancy, including those mentioned in this article.
As an artist myself I know how difficult it is to create a sustainable place for one's self in this city - but I also know that it's possible; which is one of the reasons I'm offended by the "I Love Memphis" mural project.
While I believe the project does have some value - specifically, in developing civic pride, it feels like a slap in the face to lump this project into an article that is touting an argument to every artists favorite phrase "You can't make a living as an artist."
Here are my major issues with the project:
1. NO PAY - The artists that have been/will be selected to produce "I Love Memphis" murals are not being monetarily compensated.
2. NO RECOGNITION - The artists names are not connected with the art - in other words, no one driving by will know who the artist(s) was.
3. IS IT EVEN "ART?" - The project doesn't seem to be so much about "supporting art" as it does about advertising… like if Pepsi painted a wall.
This project does nothing to "increase visibility" for the artist(s) involved, nor does it help to dispel the "misconception" that you can't make a living as an artists. Bottom line, it's the city asking (again) for a handout from the very people it should be supporting - both through recognition and compensation.
Using this project as a measurement for how Memphis is getting to the "next level," I'd say we're moving backwards.
By Chris McCoy
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