Nobody ever asks hang to hang my paintings in their café, restaurant, or cooperate office. That isn’t a complaint, I think it means I am on the right path.
During my short time helping to organize shows (I am going to stop well short of calling it curating), artists would frequently ask me how their work, or the exhibition, was being being received by the people visiting the gallery. Artists are, after all, just like everyone else, they want feedback to let them know whether or not they are doing a good job. Most of the time, visitor feedback was pretty simple. People wanted to support the artists, support the space, be polite, so most of the time the feedback was something along the lines of, “Looks pretty good.” Which is not really a surprise because, most of the time, the shows looked pretty good.
Occasionally though, a show, or an artist would do something really interesting. Inevitably, in these cases 75% of the people who gave me feedback would hate it.
Most of the time, if 75% of the people offering feedback just fucking HATE what you are doing, it’s a problem. The thing is, whenever this happened, the other 25% would really love it. Beyond that, I would get double, or sometimes triple the normal amount of feedback. People were actually engaged enough to drop the polite small talk and take sides. In other words, these were the most successful pieces. Unfortunately, it was always difficult to report this exciting news back to the artists. In my eyes, this is the best case scenario for art, this is the moment when it is working. But, nobody really wants to hear that 75% of the people who saw their work didn’t get it, or didn’t like it.
I still believe that the most successful art is not the stuff that everyone seems to like, it’s the stuff that gets conversations started. The best art the stuff that, love it or hate it, motivates people to take sides.
As an artist, it can be hard to live by those beliefs at times, but I am trying. So I am going to start 2016 off by celebrating the victories I have had and thanking the people who have supported what I am doing over here.