I read with interest the Indy article, “Survey Takes Laguna Art Temperature.” My first thought was, is this an oral or rectal examine? Quite frankly, I’m not a fan of surveys no matter how they are taken. Surveys make me nervous. I always think I’m answering wrong. So, I got an advance copy of the Laguna art survey to give myself plenty of time to come up with the right answers. Following is a sample of a few survey questions that I’m having difficulty answering.
Question #7: Do you think the Festival of Arts should do an off-season rendition of the Pageant of the Masters called Pageant of the Mediocre?
Question #21: Is Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile the result of passing wind?
Question #76: Should the Sawdust Festival get a facelift by doing away with the sawdust in favor of cobblestones?
Question #94: Should Waldo make a cameo appearance in next year’s Pageant?
Question #10,213: Should future Pageant performances require the audience to do hot yoga while viewing the still pictures?
I’ll bet you don’t know the answers, either. I got an idea. Let’s just skip surveys altogether because a survey of anything indicates by the very nature of taking of it, that something is wrong and could be made better. Just taking a survey promises something better in the future. Assuredly, you do not take surveys to make things worse or keep it the same. So right from the get go, a steering committee is appointed to steer the arts in a new and better direction. Politicians love appointing steering committees because the appointments appear democratic and unfettered with biases. And of course, the unbiased democratic survey results will provide the politicians with a canvass to draw on once they think they have the answer that everyone wants to hear. “Here are pictures of a clown, a horse and a flower. Aren’t they great, Mr. Politician? Where’s my grant?”
Take a breath Laguna. Let’s talk more about this. I don’t know much about art. The closest I’ve come to the art world is when I worked in the Fine Arts building in Chicago from 1993-2009. At the time I sold insurance, the other tenants produced works of art. I always felt like the odd man out in a building budding with creative genius, whereas, I contributed to a deteriorating picture of reasonable health insurance. And it did not help me that the building’s inscription over the Michigan Avenue doors reminded me everyday that, “All things pass, art alone endures.” Imagine going to work and having a building remind you that your work didn’t amount to anything and death was eminent. It’s discouraging to say the least.
But I survived to give you my two cents worth today. Here it is. Good art and great art will find its marketplace as well as the galleries that support and promote their work. Pictures of dogs playing poker and sad clowns will probably not fare as well. Which is unfortunate because I have an extensive collection of both. Art is the vision of artists not steering committees. Artists are individuals as far removed from a collective steering body made up of surveys as you can get. Leave them alone. The cream will rise to the top.
The Laguna Beach art world has survived many years without a steering committee to tell them where to go and what to draw. However, my art collection is up for sale and is available on ebay. Survey says, they’re worth oodles. Make me a bid.
Mark splits his time between California and Michigan, but is always in the state of confusion and befuddlement. His wife told us so.