Recently on a trip to Baton Rouge, I came across a certain magazine, which happened to have their Art Issue out. So of course I picked it up, although I found something a bit bothersome in it. They conducted a little poll of sorts in which they asked “What would it take for you to buy a piece of art?” Now, only 3 people were featured, but apparently not one of them even own art to begin with, though one at least said she’s “in the market.” The other two, however, had some pretty appalling answers. One said that money is the issue and considers art a “superfluous expense.” Ouch. Way to use that word-a-day calendar, buddy, but really? Superfluous? Do you really consider art to be unnecessary? The next appalling response said that it would require “getting the artist to come down on the price” and that her artist friend sells work “for like $1000.” I have to ask how much do you earn for 2 weeks or more of work? (And 2 weeks is nothing, by the way, most artists, including myself, pour a month into a piece and that’s full-time.) Cut that $1000 in half after the gallery gets their cut, and the artist is not even making minimum wage. Now imagine if that was your paycheck- suddenly $1000 isn’t so much.
Okay, my point here is not to lambaste these folks, but to dispel some -unfortunatley- common misperceptions. When considering the worth of a work of art, so many people forget that hours, weeks, months, sometimes years have been sacrificed to create art. And I do mean sacrificed because so many artists put this amount of time into their work after already putting in a full day at another job, and they have families to care for, not to mention giving up time to themselves, and working during weekends, holidays, and vacation time. And even if there isn’t a gallery involved, $1000 for example, is a small price to pay for that person’s efforts. Not to mention, this is a one-of-a-kind, original work of art. There will never be another. It’s not manufactured in China, it’s not mass-produced, and you’ll never find another one like it. People pay FAR more for clothes, purses, cars, televisions, computers, etc. when those items ARE mass-produced. I don’t get it.
As for being superfluous, well, I certainly hope that is not the majority’s opinion… I find that comment disturbing regardless of the fact that I’m an artist. We are visual creatures- we can’t help but marvel at the sight of a rainbow, or find enjoyment at looking at photos of people, places, things, we birdwatch, peoplewatch, and even stylewatch. Imagine if the world around you had been replaced by stark walls and concrete. No more pictures on your walls. Your clothes have been replaced with the same drab uniform. What if color no longer existed? Or patterns? No shapes, no lines, just void areas of space. I can guarantee you would become bored and even depressed. Just at its most basic level, art affects our moods, uplifts us, speaks to us. Go a little deeper and add a narrative to that art and it can make us laugh, cry, reminisce, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We need art just as much as we need music, literature, and theater. We enjoy them. We connect with them. They help us to understand this crazy world a little better and make it a little more pleasant along the way. I say that is most certainly a necessity.