Speakeasy

Al Jirikowic, Editor, Washington DC

To think that Washington D.C. is a major progenitor of the visual arts would be an incorrect assumption. Of course we are an art center and an international confluence of art passing into America from a global context – yes, given our embassies and museums and galleries and schools and of course, the Federal Government – we are important. But as a real incubator and scene starting focus of art generated here, we do not rank. We make no impact on the national/international scene or, if we do, it does not resonate. Ask your friends in New York.
We are, at best, a road stop for other shows and artists just passing through. They get the notice. As artists, we are daunted by the celebrity of New York and others. Many of us live in the past, in the shadow of the once pronounced Washington Color School. We make no splash as a homespun artistic identity. We get lost in our separateness and islands within islands. Washington languishes.
We do not have a cohesive artistic community, despite the hard work and talent that resides in this area. As an art community, there is simply no there “there”. There is no resonant artistic voice arising from Washington D.C. This is tragic and if you think the spirit of art is important for the capital of the United States of America, why, this void is unhealthy. For many reasons, when it comes to “our artists” – this is our current lackluster landscape and most of you know it.
We at the New Art Examiner think this must change and can change – for the sake of our cultural future and potential. And we are coming.
The “condition” in the DMV is a smallness in “vitality shared” or distinct lack of identifiable focus. We are scattered, almost adrift. In a sense, and Washington is not alone in this situation, in the on going issue of being “stuck”. Artists and critics need to get the show on the road with intelligent, respectful dialogue and discourse that is tactful, sensitive but challenging in manner. The artist should have the last word – an on going process. We do not do this here and as a result, get cut off at the knees and consequently are pushed back at ever coming to grips with our identity crisis as an art community … which at heart … wants to thrive. The community needs to boost itself so as to DEVELOP AND PROCEED.
How do we work on this and admirably do so? This is not an easy proposition but it is necessary if we are to bloom.
In the next few months, and on into the future, the Examiner will be covering the Washington area. We are interested in the cultural health and vibrancy of the local Washington art world and it’s unlimited potential. Given the dearth of critical depth and cultural overview of our inherent scene by the so called local media and “others” [ and of course, this opinion is widely reflected amongst artists here, no surprise,] we relish the creative demand of “getting to work”. Given the everyday climate of our on going political and social calamity, – ok, my opinion – we really have no choice but to trust in the power of the creative process of ART. We must take this seriously. This is important. Many live for this and by this. We are human beings – many are involved, those of you who make art or what ever you may call it [an open question?] and those of you who depend on this, it is now time to show up and begin our new “buzz”, our ideas, our strengths shared and our, most importantly, our questions. We hope to move this along. This is really up to our collective creative beings as artists. Ultimately, it will always be up to and of the artists.
I cannot emphasize this enough. In our expression of our fears, our questions, our ideas, our differences in WORDS – this is the stuff of enhancing our identity as ARTIST HUMAN BEINGS. We often forget this, we become passive and dulled to our outcomes and circumstances. This is always a story of ebbs and flows, of dynamics and challenges. Time to break the habit and see what happens. The music is playing, a dance? FEAR NOT.
We welcome many differing opinions, different ideas and conflicts. To get this out facilitates growth. That is all our objective. The critical discourse among artists and artists and their viewers is the foundation of greater creative impact. And we certainly need that.
Welcome all!

 

Al Jirikowic

Volume 31 no.6 July / August 2017 p 9

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