Monthly Archives: March 2015

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Dec 1976

KCAC Forum Newsletter Volume 2 No 12 December 1976

ART IN THE CITY ROOM

KCAC Logo_Angry Artist

Those ladies and gentlemen who wait alertly in the city room, for men to bite dogs, are among the last remaining supporters of the romantic theory that art is not news.  With implicit, old-fashioned faith they continue to believe that something has to be added to art before it can possibly become news.  It may be dirt, price, love, scandal.  If it is not extraneous it will not meet the average city editor’s academic tests of news.

Every reporter knows that money, sex, and archaeology are news. And most reporters are taught that if they can’t make a story out of it, art is not news.  We remember the first “art story” we covered.  A young boy, too poor to buy paper and pencil, was in the habit of pocketing chalk in school and drawing in his spare hours on the sidewalk.  A settlement art teacher discovered him.  He studied in her art classes free. Years passed. A rich man sent him to Paris  He returned and the first picture he sent to the local academy won a prize.  That was art news in essence: side walk, settlement, Paris, prize.  Log cabin to White House in art.

We mentioned in our story that the young man was about as far from being a genius as the Henry Street Settlement in New York is from the Gare Montaprnasse.  That editorial matter was deleted to the accompaniment of great sarcasm.  We were asked how we expected to write a story about a sidewalk genius if the genius weren’t a genius.  We said we did not know.

If a starving artist in a garret kills a beautiful model, if the richest man in town pays a few hundred thousand dollars for an old master, if a museum buys a fake, if anything happens to reflect on art, to make it melodramatic, indecorous, debatable, the city editor wakes up with surprise to the idea that there is some are news to be covered.  Curiously enough while art is not news the minute the name of art or artist is attached to any other event or condition it trebles the news value.

Take for instance that newspaper term “artists’ model” and attach it to any story about a lady, from an automobile accident to a star athlete’s bride.  The city editor knows what it does.  Or take the simple term artist. if a shoemaker, who robs a home, paints on Sundays, two to one the city editor will discover that the one day artist has committed the crime, not the six day shoemaker.

Writers and scientists, professors and musicians know this too.  They are much better copy criminals than ordinary folks.  While we think it strange that so many editors should be academic about the news, we have worked for enough of them not to have more than passing irritation about their shopworn attitude toward art and artists.  This is in part forced upon them since they are permitted to remain uninformed about art.  They are taught from cubhood that not many people are interested in art.  Consequently they continue to repeat with reactionary obstinacy that it will be time enough to be interested in art when the crowd is interested.

People are interested in books, music, and the movies and there’s plenty of news about them.  Up to a point their logic is excellent.  But why does art remain not news when more than a million people a year go to exhibitions in New York City alone and when the annual art business in this country has been estimated at approximately one hundred and fifty million dollars?

It sounds illogical to complain that while art is not news, art-plus is, and that it is especially good news when the plus is scandal.  What can be explained by mass jealousy.  Artists are exceptional people whom the world rewards exceptionally when it rewards them at all.  How many workaday men would prefer to be stars in any one of the arts? How many women dream of being prima donnas, star actresses, star movie queens? and what a consolation when one of thee symbols of personal success trips.  From those who are known to everyone in electric lights to the least known artist, writer, poet, musician, the same rule maintains itself.

Why? there is something exceptional about artists, known and unknown, that stirs both admiration and enmity.  And when they stumble the city editor smells news.

Why does he not know otherwise?

There is one possible answer.  Although it is evident to the outside world that in America the interest in art is spreading so fast as to be almost dangerous, from the point of view of going deep and not always staying on the surface, although hundreds of thousands of dollars are being found to support new chairs of art, new schools, new departments, new scholarships, there must be few newspaper owners alive to the fact.  Otherwise the simplest logic would inspire them to hire a few reporters with a thorough art education.  By that we do not mean art critics for painters who, having failed at painting, are thought through that vary fact to be capable of writing well.

We are still talking of the city room and not the Sunday sections.  It is our conviction that the American world today is well-packed with untouched gold mines of legitimate uncontaminated art news.  The tawdry and superficial attitude toward art characteristic of the dyed in wool city editor must be revolutionized before these gold mines can produce.  Out of the universities whence come many brilliant young men and women today with solid foundation for an intelligent approach to art, a few bright young reporters might be trained who would not be completely up a tree when they went out on an art story.  Gradually even those dear old city editors, who consider that the more nonsensical an art story is the more sense it makes, might become educated.  That would be a jolly day for art.  But let’s not be too optimistic.

(Reprinted from “Magazine of Art” Vol 32 Jan 1939)

throwback thursday — FORTY YEARS AGO

 

Where it all began...

 

INVITATIONAL ARTISTS MEETING
KCAC 40 Anniversary
Bennett-Marak Painting Studio
March 5, 1975

Objective: To encourage  feeling of unity among Kansas City visual artists.
Topic: “How the Artist Can Benefit from Centralization”

Panelists: Doug Drake, Doug Drake Gallery
John Lottes, Kansas City Art Institute, President
Thorpe Menn, Kansas City STAR, Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Thomas, Mayor’s Council on the Arts

Sponsor: River Quay Art Association

QUESTIONNAIRE SUMMARY

KANSAS CITY VISUAL ARTISTS

Approximately one-half of those attending the first meeting completed and turned in the questionnaires. Most other requested their names be put on the Newsletter mailing list.

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GROUP
1. The groups is almost exactly balanced, male and female.
2.55% are from Missouri, the majority of Kansas City.
3. 85% list their occupation as Artists, including 27% who are also art educators.
15% are made up of students, housewives, writers, and architects.
4. 83% are actively seeking professional and public recognition for their work through shows, and exhibits, competitions, sales, and trying to increase newspaper coverage.
5. 63% fell Kansas City is not responding to their needs as artists, or responding very little. 18% feel it is responding, (perhaps they could tell the others in what way and how). 18% were unsure.
6. 67% do not desire studio space with other artists. 17% do and 16% might.
7. 70% are not interested in renting studio space in River Quay, 15% are and a 15% might.
8. Everyone but 2 are interested or could be interested in a Coop Gallery.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEEDS AS AN ARTISTS THAT, AS A GROUP, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP WITH?
1.Communication with other artists. Sense of community.
2. More exposure, exhibit space, galleries.
3.Stronger voice in larger numbers.
4. Better publicity, media coverage, public relations.
5. Personal/Professional development.
6.An active newsletter for communication.
7. Sales.
8. Finding reputable agents.
9. Having an armory show.
10. A coop gallery.

WHY DID YOU COME TO THIS MEETING?
1. For communication with other artists. What’s going on in K.C.
2. To support the local artist community. To help local visibility.
3. Professional development through communication.
4. To discover the potential for cooperative action.
5. To hear the panel.
6. Dumb question.

SOME CONCLUSIONS CAN BE DRAWN:
This group is professional in their aspirations for exhibitions, sales, and the desire for public recognition. As a group of self-motivated, self-determining professional artists, the body has potential to advance those aspirations.

The survey, together with comments at the first meeting, would indicate that a large number of the group felt that some such self-initiated movement or organization is the only alternative to an existing non-situation in Kansas City, characterized by isolation, elitism, apathy, and ignorance.

Supporting that inference is the 55% of respondents who specified the peer-group association, commonly stated as a “community of artists,” as a major  potential value of such an organization.

A positive commitment to the tangible symbol of professional status, a gallery, was indicated by 72% of the group, with another 22% possibly interest. 33% of the group indicated possible interest in shared studio space.

An important indication, in addition to public recognition and sales, is the desire for a sense of place, identified socially with the group — again to foster free, informal communication.

The recurrence of terms such as “growth as an artist,” and “professional development,” as desirable benefits of participation might suggest the expectation that such a group has educational potential, both formal and informal, which might range from questions of aesthetic value to very technical problems to be shared and solved among the group.

Inherent in some responses and comments is a sense of identity with “real” or “serious” or “professional” artists, indicating that there is much to learn in this form of “real-life” association that is superior to past educational opportunities, either formal or informal.

There is also some indication, form comments and subsequent discussion to the first meeting, that the group wants leadership and a framework for productive activity, but, that it might suffer from over-organization at least at first — and might favor a very flexible non-objective framework in which simply to talk Art. As one participant put it, in the midst of discussing issues, formats, leadership and agendas — “What happened to the Art?”

It would seem therefore, that some middle ground between tight organization and total chaos might best serve this group for large portions of the time together. Note that, while the fist meeting was “led” informal and had a “program,” it drew its greatest energy and excitement form the “town meeting” atmosphere in which anyone at all might be heard and debated.

 

OTHER TOPICS TO DISCUSS
1.Tax relief for artists
2.The Nelson Gallery
3. Arts vs. crafts
4. K C Star coverage
5. River Quay Art Fair
6. K C Art Institute’s relationship to professional, the community