Saturday, March 4, 2017

vi170303  Wiki or not:  Here I come  

Anne Turner, one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, suggested how to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She maintains a website for him and is one of a number of children of region’s notable printmakers, the Children of the Printmaking Revolution. The author offers up his different approach.

Wiki nor not wiki

Should I start a wiki? The original question came up when Anne Turner and I began discussing ways to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She is the one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, and she has designed and maintains a website for him. I commented that she is one of a number of children of regional artists and printmakers of note, suggesting the term Children of the Printmaking Revolution.
We had a meeting at our family’s Mini Art Gallery. She commented, as she looked around the gallery and seeing artworks on the walls and Halfwood Presses for sale: “I didn’t realize there was so much here.” I thought, You have no idea how much there is . . . and Stephen is part of it.
There is a great deal to say about artists’ assets and the transfer of their legacy. Usually people think only of selling the art as a way of transferring it. They assume there is a market. Sometimes the art auction is a choice. With no alternatives planned or imagined, what are the descendants to do? The bottom line is that it is no easier to sell the art after the artist dies than it was during his or her lifetime; otherwise, there would be no discussion.
The work did not sell—period. When the work of art became a commodity, it entered a pool of sharks. Commodities sell when there is a plan to sell—usually before the object is made. Artists traditionally do not plan to sell a work of art before they start.
Commercially successful artists do, however, plan ahead. They choose colors that are currently in fashion and that will probably stay in fashion for the duration of the artwork offering. They consider medium, size, subject matter—everything they can imagine and study in the marketplace of design, decoration, entertainment, and interior furnishing.
Some artists, like Stephen Hazel, eschew this approach to making art. We—and I include myself with his kind of artist—have the idea that art comes not as a commodity but as an experience moving us to make something. If our finished art moves another person or people to something like an esthetic experience or cultural idea, they appreciate it; they may buy it.
Since the combination of the object’s appearance to the eye, the content to the viewer’s mind in some cases, and the exposure to the kind of people who can and will share this experience are rare, it’s rarely that the artworks sell. Even if the price is low, it may not sell. Commodities are like that.
My view is that there is a way to surmount this situation, and surmount it I must. I’m willing to see all my works destroyed—“sacrificed,” as Carl Chew would say—to simply clear out our valuable piece of real estate so that it can be rented to create an income for our family.
To create a bridge and connect to that point in time when and if the art and all the gallery furnishings, as well as miscellaneous tools, etc. (and the Halfwood Presses) are sacrificed, I work to change the art from commodity status to utility status.
If I succeed, it may be partly from my vision of the Northwest Print Center Incubators, because, among the 19 incubators, I planned a one feature called by a working title Printmaking Hall of Fame. Its focus is on artists of the Pacific Northwest Region who made important contributions to the art, craft and design of printmaking, including innovative tools and techniques. Think Dan Smith and Glen Alps, or Elton Bennett and Sheila Coppola.

I am the oldest printmaker (born 1941, the year before John P. Morgan) who has lived in Seattle since 1966; I may also be the oldest teacher of printmaking—unless my nineteen years at the UW do not qualify me as others whose formal teaching career was longer—such as Thomas Johnston. Therefore I am qualified to design a printmaking center which spans fifty years and blends old and new technologies in a way to benefit Seattle’s Cultural Arts.

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