Ceci n’est pas une Nipple

The topic of censorship has come up for me recently. Let’s just say that a nude I did with her boobies showing, combined with the phrases ” it is very inappropriate” and “families read this publication” happened. Although I knew this would probably be the case I thought, maybe, just maybe they’d be cool. This was not the case.

The first time I got one of my nude paintings censored, so to speak, was at Laguna Beach High School when my teacher hung it in the art room. I came back the next day to find a string of toilet paper across the area where the lone nipple was visible. I guess the principle said he didn’t want the 9th grade boys to get too “excited”. At my high school back in Ann Arbor, they showed my nude pieces quite often, as well as the Ann Arbor Art Association, so this was a new thing for me. After all, the mascot for Laguna Beach HS was the “Artists”. Later, I was told it could not be published in the high school year book — even though my teacher pushed for it — again it was deemed inappropriate. We had a major meth epidemic at Laguna Beach HS that was never addressed, but you can’t go showing students a nipple.

When I moved to Dana Point for my senior year, same problems, different school. My nude works were banned from being shown in the common areas of the school in display cases. They were inappropriate. I found this hilarious, when you consider we had at least 3 teen parents at our school; two girls were currently knocked up, and I took one of the cheerleaders to buy a pregnancy test so she could take it my house without her parents finding out. So yes, representations of titties in acrylic were to be censored, despite the fact many students CLEARLY knew how bang some genitals together to make a baby!

A gallery in Dana Point also asked me not to show my nudes because “it wasn’t Christian”, so you know, all those nude works by Renaissance artists must be smut over in Vatican City. She was concerned because I was a 17 year old girl doing these paintings of naked women and I painted their nipples different colors. She was also incredibly annoyed the sexy lingerie store next door shared her parking lot. They sold, “leather undergarments” you guys!

The final straw was when I tried to curate a group show at Artcore in downtown Los Angeles. It was to be me, Tara McPherson, Louie Metz, Staci Lande, and a few others. The woman who ran the gallery didn’t want nudity. A downtown Los Angeles gallery, not wanting nudity? The board members tried to reason with her, but it was no use. This was on top of many other conditions she decided to set, like no satire and no sarcasm. That show didn’t happen, obviously.

It was strange to me, all these galleries in Laguna Beach and even Los Angeles refusing to show nudes, because they were inappropriate and indecent; and yet the people who set out these rules loved works by Botticelli and Michelangelo. I started drawing nudes when I was eleven years old! So what does that mean? I grew up with a lot of nude artwork in our home, and no, it didn’t turn me into a deviant. I did that on my own, thank you very much!

Up until now the last bit of censorship I had was in 2009. NBC Washington was promoting the show I had at Art Whino Gallery. They used the image of this painting below, but instead of putting a black bar across the nipples, they put a dark purple bar across them! Hey, at least whoever was told to do it had a sense of humor. I still don’t get why NBC didn’t just use another image, but hey, it was pretty funny!

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The Pond

I know the Instagram police take down any artwork with nipples showing. I think only recently was it ruled that a representation of nipples was okay, but that doesn’t stop the strangest of people from reporting or flagging the content; and I’m guessing those are the same people who claim to be art lovers? It’s also the same people who get offended by everything (which seems more often these days online). I think we can all agree there are more important things going on in this big wide world we should be offended by.

I’m curious to know how other people have had their work censored? Was it a gallery, print publication, or something else?

Friendship Friday Gift Guide

I hate shopping. Well, I hate being around sales people, and other people, and… well usually I know what I want and I go right for the thing.

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Sometimes I experience something wonderful, like at Saks or at Rubenstein’s . Any high-end place that does it right by giving me samples and champagne. But really, anytime I go to a big chain store or even the grocery store, I want out! I certainly don’t want to cook a huge holiday meal for more than 6 people. Isn’t that what a caterer is for?

Dirty

I don’t understand people who line up at electronics stores and whatnot when the sale prices are not really that great, or gear up like it is an exciting outing. A holiday tradition? Yesh!

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So I thought I’d throw together a list on my friends who make or sell cool stuff and places I buy from. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, but this is a good broad list of everything from music to jewelry to neckties to art.

Stick it to the man this season. Keep it independent!

Susan Danko (tiny art and some big art too, starting at $30!)

Edith Lebeau (original paintings and portrait commissions)

Hyperclash (clothing, lifestyle gifts, and art)

Blood Milk Jewels (I need more of this stuff)

WolfChild (cool graphic tees)

The Cotton Candy Machine (books, prints, toys, and original art)

Maybe Mars (Chinese psych rock and the most punk thing going on)

SassyFrass (upcycled jewelry)

Tim Frick Guitars (because a custom guitar sounds awesome)

RTD Design Collective (classes, jewelry, accessories and more)

Dionysus Records (exotica, garage rock, and punk reissues)

Derf Backderf (graphic novels you’ll dig)

Marianne Angeli Rodriguez (art things for your walls)

Camille Rose Garcia (the fairy tale books, yes)

Beessential Personal Care Products (I like the shampoo)

Bent Crayon (curated source for psych, electronic, experimental releases)

Babooshka Boutique (for the goth girl in your life)

Cyberoptix (for the dapper man in your life)

LittleRobot (amazing art prints)

The Brilliant Magpie (prints and tiny originals for only $5 !)

Scottesque (been saving up for one of these tartans, I’ve had my eyes on them for like, 6 months)

Now that was easy. Go on, have a drink!

dranks

 

Why I Fired A Would-Be Collector

I don’t normally get public about this kind of thing, but a line really got crossed. If you know me, you know that takes quite a bit of effort.

For over a year I had marked this painting as sold. I’d only exhibited it once before at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

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“Prada is Poetry” 14×18″, oil on canvas.

It seemed I found a perfect owner, we had a few mutual friends, and they went on a payment plan with me. I do this for just about everyone; I figured if Cleveland Clinic can do it for me why not do it for others? It has been great for all involved for several years, now. That is, until someone comes and ruins the party! How someone can bounce a check to me for a minimal amount, jerk me around, and then have the gall to keep it going for 8+ months? I don’t know. I almost sent the painting to this person when they had so little left owed on it — thankfully, the bank stopped that from happening. Try doing all of that with your plumber or mechanic. Why do people think this is okay to do with artists who run a business?

Anyway, I finally had enough since the value of all my work had gone up significantly this year, so I essentially “fired” this person since I had lost opportunities to exhibit this painting, and refunded them their money thus far. I’m glad I sent the refund certified mail, because it was forwarded on a whirlwind across the country to 3 different addresses and a P.O. Box that had been closed. Another red flag indeed. So, what kind of response do I get when the check finally made it to them and I said they don’t get the painting? Well according to this person, they are now caring for a sick aunt (which I don’t believe for 2 seconds) and then the kicker, “Having had cancer yourself I thought you would be more understanding”.

Let that sink in for a moment.

No really, let that sink in.

Yes, let’s throw cancer in my face as a final excuse for lack of responsibility and try to guilt me with it.

And this is supposed to make me WANT you to have my work?

Unreal.

So with that, if you or someone you know who is not a totally loathsome and questionable person would like to purchase this painting, get at me, she’s all yours for $1500.00. I’m not going to let one bad experience ruin it for everyone else. I want this painting to go to someone who deserves her.

Gallery Press Releases Are In Your Hands

“Art Galleries whine about not getting press. My mailbox is full of boring press releases. My email box is full of boring press releases. If you are not creative enough to entice coverage, are too cheap to advertise and too lazy to network, how dare you take 50% from the artist. ” — Mat Gleason of Coagula.

I write my own press releases and contact writers myself, partly out of being a control freak, but mostly because I got tired of other people dropping the ball when I thought they had it taken care of. I know several artists who do this as well. Not only do I know better what to say about my work, how to make it mildly interesting, and my exhibition history, but I’m usually a better writer on top of it. I thankfully got practice after having to write dozens and dozens of bios for various non-living artists when I was at a certain art gallery institution in Los Angeles. That being said, I had no control over the press releases; these were all incredibly boring and still being faxed to their media list.
phone-exchange
I love it when an item appears (yeah that’s right I said “item”, let’s pretend this is The Sweet Smell of Success for a minute) and the gallery, freelance publicist, or curator will either act like they were the ones who did the footwork and made it happen. Or, they get all excited as if it was totally by magic the website, blog, newspaper, magazine wrote about the show. It never crosses their mind the artist might have actually done the job they were supposed to be doing. But, the thing that annoys me the most is people who think that just because we are in an age of instant communication, that editorial deadlines do not apply. It is nice you made a Facebook invite for an event, and maybe listed it on some websites 3 days before the dang reception, or talked about it on Twitter, but if you want something to be in a glossy magazine — an interview or anything — you have to plan 4 months in advance. Even the local newspaper has to get a heads-up several weeks in advance. You also have to build relationships with writers. Don’t be pushy, don’t assume everything you pass along to them will get featured, and remember many times their editor will nix a story or push it back. And, if they didn’t feel like writing about a show in particular, don’t get mad at them or act like a big baby about it.
Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Fine Art Publicity to start. It might be somewhat dated, but many of the rules still apply. Then get yourself Edward Winkleman’s book.
If you want something done right, do it yourself.

8 Ways to Whore Your Art to Morons

Just finished reading this piece of poo from Phil Desind via Steve Doherty’s blog about 8 ways to sell art. Okay, I do agree with 6 – 8, but come on now, if people want your work they will buy it. Just because one person doesn’t like it, won’t mean another won’t dig it. If they don’t like what you do, then they aren’t the right person for your work and you shouldn’t feel bad about that at all. If you need to follow any of the steps in 1- 5 then you obviously don’t know who your audience is and you are sticking in shiny objects for the mere fact that you are a whore with technical skill. Seriously, the shiny objects bit in number 2 kills me. Oh and number 3 kills me all over again. Heck, 1 – 5 all kill me, go read it, seriously you’ll die laughing! Or if you are an artist, you’ll wonder if it is a joke like an article from The Onion, which most of my friends thought it was at first.

You shouldn’t make work a certain way just for the intention of trying to sell it to some idiot who wants it to match their couch! If you do, you aren’t an artist, you are making a product. A product for someone who doesn’t like to think too hard or is buying art because it makes them feel cultured; these are the people who buy a Thomas Kinkade painting in hopes of being able to sell it on Ebay in 15 years for a profit. Making a piece of art while following a guideline like this is so wrong to me on so many levels. Why constrict yourself like that? That is no different than following a fad or a genre of art that happens to be doing well at the moment, “gee I sure think Tiki themed art is lame, but it is what’s hot right now, so maybe I’ll go paint some tiki themed crap and hope it sells”. Yeah, have fun with that.

I should also point out that number 4 is a big lie as well. I grew up with some really fun heavy subject matter in the art collection of my parents. Angels and devils and surrealist craziness, I used to stare at them and marvel. “People don’t want to hang those kinds of paintings in their homes or offices. The pictures would depress them all day long,” says the article. Um, more like those pictures would freak people out and be full of awesome all day long! You know what depresses me? Pictures of fruit in a shiny bowl!

Again, just because one person doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean all people on the planet will hate it too. I hate Julian Schnabel, I also hate Keith Haring, and I’m pretty sure my dislike of those two artists hasn’t effected their sales. By the way, do you know how many people ask me if I have any work laying around with skulls in the subject matter? A LOT. Here is a painting I made of my fabulous Sabertooth Tiger skull….

SabercatSkullProffer

Artists make what they make; people like what they like. They find each other in an honest way, not by the artist impressing what they think people will like upon them.

And yes, skulls do sell, just like chicks dig scars.