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Updated July 27, 2017 | By Bob Fugett ©2017


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Starving artist?

The fiction that an artist cannot make a good living by doing good work is merely a fairy tale corporations tell their wage slaves to keep them in line.

I have known a great number of true artists, and the one thing that most clearly defines all of them is that they are worker bees.

Unfortunately, that means many of them will spend their entire lives in futile quiet desperation aspiring to gain recognition as being a talented artist ... not just a skilled artisan.

This problem for artists is somewhat based on the universal acceptance of misehrty as a social norm.

Misehrty is the hatred of other socio-economic classes, both upward and downward.

The word begins with the Greek prefix 'mis-' (hatred), as in misogyny (hatred of women), or misandry (hatred of men), or miseldry (hatred of the aged).

The root of the word is a shortened form of heritage, wherein the letters 'he' are transposed to 'eh' in order to avoid spelling it as 'misherty' which invites a mish-mush mess of pronunciation.

Also the 'i' in heritage is dropped to make pronunciation of misehrty easy to guess at first glance.

Think of misehrty as meaning hatred of heritage.

I am certain of the etymology because it is I who coined the term.

Misehrty poses insurmountable blocks for many artists.

Since misehrty is hatred of those outside of one's own caste in the world's class hierarchy, both upwardly and downwardly, an artist's stasis within a given group is enforced by both outsiders and insiders.

Members of another caste will not let them in; members of their own caste will not let them out.

Furthermore, caste status has a major impact on the dollar value of an artist's work.

In fact, social status may be the only determiner.

The difficulty misehrty poses for artist outliers is alluded to by a common distinction made between artisan and artist.

artisan: an artisan is the help
artist: an artist is one of us
In truth, they are exactly the same thing — artisan and artist.

The upper-tier may not know this, or pretend they don't, but the two definitions above illustrate their base prejudice.

Allow me to clarify, since not everybody immediately understands the racist-classist use of the words 'help' and 'us' in the two definitions above.

Looking down from the ruling class (try to imagine), there is a clear dividing line between the vaunted artist and the lowly artisan.

"An artisan is just the guy who does body work on the Bentley, but an artist is, well ... my daughter is an artist."

Still don't get it?

You have probably heard the old saw that art doesn't sell, right?

Starving artists, bohemian losers, garrets, etc.

Have you ever thought of the circular logic naturally extending from that point of view?

If art doesn't sell, then anything that does sell is not art!

Therefore, it is impossible to make a living selling art because if it sells, it is not art.

So the door slams shut on a large number of would be artists and opens wide for stupid statements like, "Art cannot be defined, and it certainly cannot be taught. You are either an artist or you are not. You must be born with the 'talent'."

Maybe worst of all is, "Artists can never judge their own work."

Artists have to be selected by those who know.

Then they must be coddled, treated gingerly, prompted into space building, and handed grant money to be entangled by the strings attached.

But they must never ever be allowed to make an independent living selling their own, self-judged and self-presented work ... especially if it is good.

In a world that embraces such attitudes, eventually only the very rich are allowed to define what is art, and they will never define it in a way that can be understood and learned.


They will always be highly disincentivized to give away the secret, because the secret is simply that all the talk about what constitutes great and valuable art is merely a time wasting deflection.

The truth must never be revealed: hidden wealth is being passed around in a closed system using cleverly adorned trading stamps of various sizes, but nothing else matters.

Quality, character, study, achieved excellence ... more than 21,000 sales? ... all meaningless.

Sound familiar?

In that world, any definition approaching the truth about the essence of art as a doorway to human aesthetic response (how and why that happens) would also have to include a shunt to failure for anybody not in the inner sanctum.

Shunts such as, "True art is mysterious and indefinable."

Plus the system is self enforcing, making sure only people who do not need to work (the wealthy) have enough time and resources to correctly engage in the sorts of activities that gain artistic credential.

You'd better be ready to show up at every museum or gallery opening and engage in the obligatory sloppy paid-bar wino-binge, if you ever hope to get your work onto one of those walls.

Can't do it because you have to be up and sober for work in the morning?

Too bad.

I have witnessed Mary personally attacked by an upper-tier artist, standing in front of her worktable, deriding her watercolors as not art because art is based on ideas, not on technical skills and execution.

Apparently, he was skilled enough to realize Mary had blown the doors off his pitifully small body of work.

He could have all the wonderful ideas he wished (and spout them) about what is true art, but those ideas would never be tested because he would never have to make a dollar.

Conversely, narrowing the definition of art in a way that it can only be sanctified from the top is not restricted to elites alone.

Artists themselves from all strata are happy to support such belief as well.

For more than 40 years I have seen Mary pommeled again and again by ignorant people telling her she has a "god given talent" (the other side of the coin of powerlessness), despite the published fact she studied diligently throughout childhood and early adulthood, and has since worked tirelessly improving her performance every day.

People like to think it was without effort, handed to her at birth, an arcane gift that is outside of her control.

It ain't.

Mary has sold over 21,000 of her own original watercolors, painted by her own hand and self-sold directly to collectors visiting her studio in Sugar Loaf, NY.

Those collectors take the paintings home and report back that Mary's watercolors have a profound positive affect on their daily lives.

How's that for conceptual art?

The idea of improving people's lives!

The elements in Mary's art that assure such positive human impact are all a function of observable, repeatable, reliable, deep aspects of the human aesthetic response, all of it absolutely can be studied and mastered with great success.

Let's go roust our upper-tier artist and ask him what he thinks about the idea of improving the lives of people with carefully executed profoundly excellent art.

You do really have to love to paint, however, in order to do enough of it to get really good, and the time requirement for achievement is why we bucked the system by coming to Sugar Loaf and establishing a situation which would allow getting paid for full time practice.

Finally, we come to Sugar Loaf.

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