Read the whole article by clicking on the above link, and then think hard about your categories...
A neighborhood artist (sometimes called a community artist or an animateur) is someone whose work consists of placing artistic skills at the service of a community (neighborhood art thus also requires the skills of a community organizer — the ability to explain, assist and to learn from others). He or she abandons the old idea of the artist as a person who is set apart from others. "Artistic alienation" then takes on another meaning. It is alienation from the values of the marketplace and the snobbery of the academy, from the pabulum in commercial culture and the bland acceptability in government art.
The conventional idea of the avant-garde equates alienation from the values of the marketplace with alienation from all aspects of society: if the artist refuses to assume the values of the official culture, the only alternative is to be an isolated individual, a law unto oneself. But neighborhood artists are not alienated from their communities. They have chosen a role which demands that their work be valued for its utility to those communities. This is a standard of value which is completely separate from the question of marketability or acceptance by critics and agents. But how have members of this new avant-garde come to their work? Certainly a few have simply followed the logic of innovation, moving by increments outside the gallery or theater and into the life of a community. But most have acted deliberately to avoid the circumscribed role to which artists in our society are consigned.
We have spoken with many groups of young artists — in art school seminars, panel discussions, and in workshops designed to offer "pointers" on grants and marketing. These meetings tend to be suffused with powerlessness and desperation, and for good reason. Often, the lot of the young ambitious artist is to be a kind of Sleeping Beauty, one who must wait to be "discovered" and whose mode of life is to prepare for this discovery. The artist then alternates between fond hope and despair — and frustration at enforced passivity and the capriciousness of "success."
The new avant-garde — the neighborhood arts movement — is not waiting to be discovered. Justification and gratification are inherent to neighborhood art; they are not postponed until the verdict of arbiters of success is given. Neighborhood artists want their work to have impact, to have meaning to others. Each day they are able to see that art can help transform the experience of the members of a community. Their work is thus not the expression of a single sensibility, but part of a continuing dialogue among the members of a community.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Who Is the REAL Avant Garde?
In 1982, Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard published in Art in America (Vol 70 Number 4 April 1982) an article entitled "Grass ROOTS Vanguard" in which they argued that the REAL avant garde artists were not the seemingly alienated experimental artists identified by the art world, but rather the "neighborhood artists" who step outside the marketplace to create art. They write: