Was Baudelaire more right than he knew?

(above, Jane Masters needlework)

(Still working on getting those images...)

Never fear, I have more flippant statements from the general art-viewing public lined up for my noggin-poppin' riposte(s). What's the plural to that word? Frenchies; help me out here. Anyway...a slight deviation follows...

My wife and I ventured out Friday night to Old City for the First Friday event...or as one gallery owner that I know calls it, "Forced Friday." Let me just say this...what a load of crap.

(Batman the Movie...my second favorite scene...the Joker flipping through glossies, untiil he comes to Vicki Vale...(Kim Basinger): "crap...crap...crap...")

That is, we did what we normally do...we visited Gallery Joe, Pentimenti and (attempted) to enter Larry Becker Contemporary Art, the three staples in my gallery foray into Old City...and frankly the only truly high-caliber galleries in Old City. There are a few others that are occasionally good, but quaveringly so. The exhibits at the three above galleries were quite good - Gallery Joe, especially. Kudos to them for exhibiting drawing in this painting-heavy city scene.
My experience on the whole made me contemplate swearing off Old City First Fridays for the future, especially considering the swarms of tragically-hip people clogging the sidewalks. (I mean, what do I expect, really?) I felt old, and out of place.

I've noticed an explosion of little galleries recently, both in Northern Liberties, and some in the Cherry Street area, and others...but they are largely too far afield for me to bother...I better hurry if I want to see them; they'll probably be out of business before I get there. The market seems good for art...not quite approaching what I have heard about the early 80's, but good nonetheless. How else would these little players even get started? But still, something's wrong.

Frankly, I'm fed up with 90% of the art I see these days...the majority of it is cowtowing to and ingratiating itself before MAMMON. (Or...should I say it?...whoring itself with Mammon.) It was Baudelaire after all, who said, infamously, "What is Art? Prostitution." He was, I think being provocative and ironic in a fine, early-20th century French way, but there is still more there to deconstruct. Nowadays, I think there's a little more going on than just metaphor. It brings to mind the railings of biblical prophets against the prostitution of Israel at the altars of Baal, and the holy oaks. Something's going to blow, eventually...or maybe not?

The art world has long been incestuous. Fatal genetic diseases are not long to follow.

the fourth samba  – (Monday, 06 February, 2006)  

Tim, i haven't been there on 1st fridays for a long time, but have you seen the Temple gallery lately?

benvolta  – (Wednesday, 08 February, 2006)  

i agree with you....i feel pretty gross after walking around first friday... i am going to stick with going to see headlong behind the painted bride... that is unless a friend has a show...

GIERSCHICK  – (Thursday, 09 February, 2006)  

Rubens, I would include the Temple gallery in my "good, but waveringly so" list...sometimes they have great shows, but other times its so-so. I didn't bother shoving my way through the crowds to get into the building last Friday.
Ben, gross is a good word to use. After First Fridays, I often get all philosophical, and wonder, "Why?".
I may have been a bit harsh on my diatribe here, but it's stuff I've been thinking about a lot recently.

Dayton  – (Friday, 10 February, 2006)  

I agree overall with you Tim, but I like to leave a little room to be surprised by unexpected visual graces in the midst of the aesthetic desert. Two of them at First Friday were both found in my daughter's reaction to the artwork.

The first was her fascination with Adam Parker Smith's little people. As a child, she was pretty intrigued by these strange two-foot animals and the big whales. She actually tried to hug one of them.

The other was the back room in the New British Film show at Nexus. There was a fun short film with a Christmas-type tree scooting all over a gorgeous English estate. The room was packed, and everyone reclined on huge stuffed dragons and other creatures. Anna just made the rounds of the room, alternately watching the little tree, playing with the dragons and waving to people.

What I noticed was that Anna didn't see the pretention or mammon, just interesting little people, and dragons and walking trees.

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