From time to time we like to assemble some of the leading minds in the AGEIST network for dinner and discussion around a specific topic. We are privileged to have profiled some rather amazing people and when they are assembled there is no telling what sort of sparks may fly.
Discussing Arts in the Culture
Our most recent dinner was around the broad idea of the current state of the arts in the culture. Among our guests were the genius artist Pierluca de Carlo; Ed Patuto from The Broad Museum; Monika Gerber; the dynamic trans-continental painter Doug Tausik who was recently included in the Venice Biennale; Ruby Fay, whose recent EP was just released; Mara McCarthy, whose Box Gallery champions older artists; and Robert Stark, former director of the MARS gallery.
Are Artists Playing It Too Safe?
For the AGEIST team this was an opportunity to sit back, listen and learn. Quickly into the dinner a red thread emerged: everywhere people in the arts are playing it too safe. There is a fear of offending others, which people in our group felt is misplaced. Part of being an artist is to push the boundaries of what is acceptable. This may be the content of what is made, but it may also be about who is making it.
Age as an Artistic Superpower
Perhaps because most of us at the table had been around for a while, the latitude of what we feel is appropriate expression is pretty wide. We have thick skins, and although we may not like something, it doesn’t mean that we feel it should be shut down or otherwise marginalized. This is also part of the age equation.
Younger artists of all stripes seem to be easier to promote — everyone loves a story of a young genius. However, if one looks at the success of something like The Box Gallery, whose youngest artist is maybe mid-40s, Doug in Venice, or Ruby’s recent release, it would seem that age is immaterial to the success of the work.
Let’s Stop Homogenizing
Which, of course, brings us to the inevitable diversity conversation. Some sorts of diversity seem to be thought of as very positive, while others are deemed “too sensitive,” or “too political” or “too fill-in-the-blank.” There was a general consensus that disagreeing is fine, that having a contrary opinion is healthy for discussion, but that in these very cautious times this can be difficult to sell. Overall it leads to a homogenizing of the culture, which no one is in favor of. Bring on the pepper, we can handle it.