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Getting a Leg Up – by Robert Genn

Getting a Leg Up
by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Donna Egan of Cicero, New York wrote, "I don't have a degree in art but have been painting since the '70s. I've taken and continue to take many art classes and workshops. I've found certain shows very political inasmuch as they won't consider artists without art degrees. Do you have any suggestions for non-degreed artists regarding shows and artist resumes, etc.? If you take a class or a workshop from a well-known artist, can you state that you 'studied under' this artist?"

Thanks, Donna. There are several questions here, all of them good ones. First, shows sponsored by universities, governments, academies and credentialed art schools tend to include their own folks or a specific group (women, gays, aboriginals, etc.) and exclude others. This is the "political" spin you mentioned. They also tend to have attitudes about the various genres of art--realism, Impressionism, etc. It can be difficult for some outsiders to get a leg up.

On the other hand, group shows sponsored by clubs, federations and guilds tend to seriously consider anyone who happens to have the entry fee. In my observation they tend to have less rigid juries and often bend over backwards to accept abstract and conceptual work from outsiders, particularly young people, provided it's not, in their eyes, too silly.

To be fair, both types of venue practice incest--in some geographical locations--flagrantly. My personal solution is not to play in either sandbox.

Resumes are for people who need to read resumes. In the land of the credentialed, credentials are important. Regular people just like to collect art that is well done, shows some skill and has a life-enhancing quality. To my uninformed and ignorant eye, the latter is preferable to the former. In my world, people don't collect art because an artist has an art degree. They collect because the art moves them.

Resumes are often a problem for non-credentialed artists. What is there to put in there? As resumes are relatively unimportant compared to the work itself, you can opt not to bother trying to write one. If you insist on having a resume, it's okay to put in the names of instructors and teachers from your classes and workshops--if you think that might add an olive or two to the martini. You might also leave a few out. You have to be careful who you "study under."

Best regards,


PS: "Well, something must be done for May,

The time is drawing nigh -

To figure in the Catalogue,

And woo the public eye." (Thomas Hood)

Esoterica: One of the main problems many artists have with credentialed shows is that the effort upsets the natural flow of personal process. The better artists I know get up in the morning, put on their pants, and go to work. Figuring out where the work is to end up and who they are as artists comes afterward. This is the brilliance and uniqueness of our job. Artists who forget this become caterers and polishers of brass. 
Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly  newsletter. For more of his artistic insight, visit his website at www.painterspost.com.

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