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Cheap-Seats-Fillers Ain't Cheap

Posted 7/21/2010

We are all here together in the Baltimore arts scene. I will never suggest that any artist has a cheap seat or should go away (Baltimore Weekly, July 14). It is unfortunate that you had to categorize art cars and their participation in Artscape in that way.

Art cars are iconic for Artscape. It is the will of the people who look at all of the offerings at Artscape and keep coming back with a strong demand for our visionary and outsider art.

No, we do not have degrees from MICA, and some of us do not have credit card processing machines, and I don't have "Inc." after my name. So what's wrong? Just because we "live" our art rather than just sell it? We don't get any funding from Artscape? Which we do not. Nothing. I was told I needed exposure. Hey, I drive art every single day. The only kind of exposure I could use would get me a fine, and I can't pay it.

So it does us no financial good to be there, just costs us gas and wear and tear. No problem, I said to a parent who's kid pulled a hand off my car. I just replace it using credit card debt. (Just see if an exhibiting painter would let visitors smear their hands over their art without compensation.)

Yes, we almost went away twice, but there is no way the public wanted to let that happen, and we had to come back.

I could easily go elsewhere, but despite the way you treated us, and the way Artscape treats us, we are artists that connect with the people. We live our art daily, and most of us support it not with state and local grants and elitist sponsors, but with our own sweat and blood and maxed-out credit cards. Being compulsive comes with the territory, and it is painful.

I doubt that there would be much art at Artscape if we asked the grant-funded, corporate artists and elitist patron-funded artists to leave. So I don't plan to and would not. So you should probably not be suggesting that any member of the arts community leave or indicting us in print for "refusing to leave."

Recently, I was reminded by the new Artscape arts director that we were not getting any funds from Artscape, despite bringing many visitors and their money to the festival to see us. His response was, didn't I know that he was not making "enough." I rest my case. We need an attitude change and a greater sensitivity to the outsider and visionary at the one window we use to crawl "in" once a year. And, no, our seat is not cheap. Just look at my credit card bills sometime.

Conrad Bladey

Art Should Speak for Itself

Next year, City Paper's writers should ignore the artist statements and simply write about what they see ("The Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize," Feature, July 7). Too often these statements are a hindrance and do not allow the viewer to fully enjoy the work or to find a personal connection.

Linda Smith

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