Last month I started thinking about how much women and artists are taken for granted. This was because of our recent experience in losing electricity, internet, phone and water for 10 days during the ice storm.
My entire days were occupied with stoking the fire to stay warm and hauling water from our hot tub to flush the toilets and wash dishes. I don’t know how those pioneer women ever had time to make quilts, bake their daily bread and tend gardens!
Then this past weekend I was able to enjoy an artist lecture sponsored by Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s David and Anne McCosh Visiting Lecture Series: “George Johanson: Why Make Art?”
I signed up for the live webinar, but the lecture will be posted on YouTube by February 11 or sooner on their channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jSchnitzMOA – I highly recommend it.
I was able to watch with my friend Jean Schwalbe, who is still painting at 88, and we were marveling at Johanson’s energy, wit and sharpness as a painter at 92.
At any rate, George mentioned that unlike other art forms such as music, dance, and theatre, the visual arts are a gift that artists give to the community for free. People can walk into galleries without paying and experience original art. The performing arts all generally require money up front to view. This is often taken for granted in our society, but it may be changing.
Change on the Horizon?
I’m a moderator for the International Society of Experimental Artists’ Facebook group. Rick Rogers, one of the originators, lives in Alberta, Canada. He mentioned that in their area there is a movement that asks the question: ‘Has the artist been paid?’ The goal is to prevent visual artists’ work from being marginalized.
Today there is a group there called CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation or Le Font des Artistes Canadiens.) Most significant public galleries in Canada pay the artist to exhibit and many try to meet a minimum standard of payment set by CARFAC. Commercial galleries still operate on a commission basis.
So, George’s comment really hit home with me after hearing about Canada’s approach.
A little bit closer to home, I’ve been thinking about Women’s History month. Recent sexual misconduct allegations against men in positions of power have had me wondering: how long will men believe that this behavior is acceptable?
How long will women be marginalized? Reading email this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that ALL of the workshops sponsored by a prominent watercolor society this quarter are led by men. On the opposite front, Zinc Gallery in Seattle represents 90% women artists. I’d encourage you to support them in elevating women in the arts.
Here’s a link to their current email, spotlighting women who changed the course of Art History: https://mailchi.mp/zinccontemporary/shoutout-to-our-roster-of-90-women-artists-3102874?e=cae41b42b9
“I think art is a total thing. A total person giving a contribution. It is an essence, a soul.. In my inner soul art and life are inseparable.”
– Eva Hesse
Finally, you might be interested in hearing the women artists that inspire me. You can click each name to view an example of their work.
What else can you think of that is taken for granted or overlooked in our society? You might want to explore these ideas in your artwork. Or you might try to counteract the inequities in your buying habits. Art by women artists and visual artists deserves support.
Sitka Workshop Oil & Wax: June 14 - 17
New workshop announcements!
Always insightful! Thanks for your insights and thoughtfulness.
You make excellent points, Ruth. Thank you for posting about the George Johannson lecture last week on FB; I watched the webinar on Sunday and enjoyed his talk very much. What a vast body of work–what a great studio! And his thoughts about what leads to a series–spot on. As for female artists, most of my artist friends are women, but you are right that most of the national workshop instructors/jurors are indeed men. Better marketing? Or maybe many of them have female partners/spouses who help them with the business/marketing side of things. It occurs to me, too, that female artists of a certain age may be now taking care of THEIR spouses or parents, so aren’t as available to teach (even via zoom). Women really do hold up half of the world, but we sure don’t get equal representation in career fields. Not sure what the answer is but thank you for posting about this topic.
Thanks, Liz. I like the phrase “Women hold up half of the world!”