It’s easy to turn up your nose at community art galleries. But to do so do is to miss a trick. Community art shows are a challenge to the rose-tinted scene that straddles underground, street and high art. They are also a micro snapshot of the art world at large.
So how do we approach the visual art equivalent of the amateur dramatics society? I am tempted to say “with an open mind”, but that just sounds lame. But for the established players in the art world the challenge is getting to the community art shows in the first place. The question is how many established gallery directors, curators or artists bother with their local community art galleries or shows? Answers on a post card, please or comments below.
The higher you are in the food chain of the art world the lazier you will become. It is easier to wait for the “good art” to come to you. The artists that eventually get to ensnare your attention are the ones that have gone through the validation process and have come through on the other side or so you think. However, how often do you really get to put your discerning skills and abilities to the test?
Community art galleries are a good test for the eye. These shows are quite simply an opportunity. This is a good test of your ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is an opportunity to get in there early, spot and possibly snap up a rising star.
So here is the challenge and food for thought, go to your local community arts show, watch out and see if you can spot the accomplished and talented artist amongst the chaff. Believe me he or she is there amongst the watercolours of flower arrangements and the charcoals from the life drawing classes. You do not have to look to hard you just need to go and open your eyes. By the way, he or she is there, not because they are going through a fallow period. No, it’s because they are taking a break from the cutthroat world they have come to know and got tired of. Goodness me, the things I have heard!
Talk about a cutthroat world! While the artistic excellence of Rodin or Picasso are to be aspired to, do we have to emulate their record on humanity and common decency? Please note this is not a lesson in morality.
Next challenge, when you have spotted the talented interloper then try turning you attention to the watercolours of flower arrangements and the charcoals from the life drawing classes without sniggering. Why? Well if you have the staying power to return in a year or two the artist you sniggered at, a year or two ago, might just be the one you put your red dot on or better still step forward to represent.
According to Lorenzo Belenguer of the Gallery at Willesden Green, we tend to forget the benefits of these galleries and shows to the artists. This is especially for those who are new to the whole scene. These galleries and shows are a therapeutic lifeline to the artist, their family, friends and supporters. In our brave new world of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent we forget that sometimes even great talent needs a gentle introduction to an audience.
And just by coincidence I know of one of these community art exhibitions going on at the moment. On Sunday, 18 July, I was helping with the hanging in preparation for the Brent Art Resource’s first summer show, which they have dubbed Brent Salon des Arts. It was a first for me also. The first time I was involved in any decision-making or preparation for an exhibition. Of course I have submitted works in the past, turned up on the opening evening, drank the wine and left, so this was an altogether new and exciting experience for me. The one thing I learnt was this, forget hip, forget glamour, the key to a successful hanging is a well-equipped toolbox and plenty of willing elbow grease. Brent Salon des Arts opens on Thursday 21 July 2011.