You know what crushes my nuts in the vice of life? Elitists. Doesn’t matter what kind or what discipline… anyone who knocks anything (and here I am knocking something so the irony is not lost on me) that they feel is beneath them down is an elitist. I began my unrequited hate of elitists around the time I entered college… in case you didn’t know, I attended an art college.
No, I have never thought of myself as an artist, but when my program shut down at San Diego State University two semesters from graduating (with a degree in communication — a fancy way of saying advertising), I needed to find a sinkhole willing to swallow my existing credits or start all over. I found an art school that was willing to take them and promise me an advertising portfolio upon graduation.
My first day in the new school, I pretty much set the tone for the next few years (not all my credits transferred unfortunately) when I sat in a review of the previous semesters’ fine art compositions. To say I was underwhelmed by the garbage mislabeled as art would be an understatement. Of course, saying that in room full of art majors (and art teachers who taught these crayon-grasping monkeys) would be social suicide… who would go out of their way to drop some honesty on these poor, budding artists? Me… that’s who. I enjoyed every moment of the experience and had a few of the other “non-artists” laughing hysterically. I didn’t enjoy it because I am mean, but because I think these kids were often lied to growing up. Instead of explaining to them that just because you want to be an artist, doesn’t mean you actually have the talent to BE an artist, their friends and family fanned the flames of passion without considering the evil they were setting in motion.
Art school, for the uninitiated, is filled predominantly with two types of people: black-turtleneck-wearing-elitist-name-dropping-snobs who think they have a handle on what should be and shouldn’t be considered art and people like me… who are forced into programs out of desperation and try to make the most of it. The “artists,” for the most part, tend to celebrate anything that is even remotely original, but not so original as to leave them alone in its appreciation. Because of this, most anything that is too realistic or doesn’t use feces or urine as a medium is ignored.
Now, I may not know much, but I know that despite all the artistic posturing, the hacks I went to school with have yet to make their mark on the Humanities. Only a few of them have carved out successful careers, and those were the few who were willing to explore commercial avenues… in other words, willing to “sell out.” The elitists i went to school with have either all pursued other careers altogether or have gone into teaching (cause let’s face it… those who can do, those who can’t teach).
So when I wander around the world and meet “artists,” I tend to view them in a much different light than most people do. While some might appreciate the quirky nature of the artists personality, or perhaps the seriousness with which an artist pursues their “craft,” I tend to see through the veil of eccentricity and into who they are and who they want people to see. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to find a real artist who is not only talented, but doesn’t invest wholly into the hype. I know a small number of these types of artists and count them among my closest friends.
I have also come into contact with some artists that are the epitome of everything I can’t stand in an “artist.” They push their misguided agendas (everything from veganism to environmentalism) and push me to the very limit of my patience with their inanity. My gf’s sister-in-law is one of these. While I have spent only a handful of hours with her all told, it was enough time for me to formulate a rather graphic picture of who she is and what she is all about. Take out for a moment the fact that she is a talentless hack as a painter, and you are left with a sad human being who is so wholly invested in the fantasy of who she is, that talking to her is akin to talking to an actor playing Andy Warhol’s idiot younger sibling with delusions of grandeur in a bad B movie about Greenwich Village in the 60s.
I know good art and good artists. Not because I know anything about art (although I do), but because to me good art isn’t about pushing the boundaries for the sake of pushing the envelope (any fucking monkey with a crayon can do that), but pushing boundaries to make the person on the other side of the canvas (or lump of clay, piece of metal, celluloid, digital media, etc) consider for a moment the underlying message. Some artists have a gift of communication and some don’t. The ones that don’t pretend they do and we all lose in the process, because they contribute little more than garbage that appeals to the lowest common denominator.
So, to my friends like Molly, Sara, and Sito, thank you for sharing your vision and talent with me.