Reflection On Art, Part II

by Samuel De Lemos

…Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were revolutionizing the art world by taking their artistic vision and work to the streets. In my mind, their take on artistic exposure was a mixture of bravado and a shrewd perception of what it took to “make it.” In the back of our minds as art students, we knew that the percentages weren’t in our favor in terms of “making it” in the art world. Of course, in retrospect that was a weak point of view, limited to a immature perception of what it meant to be an artist in the first place. Keith and Jean-Michel were nevertheless, gobbled up by the entrenched gallery/museum paradigm in New York. The questions remains, were their “street” efforts ultimately, a sly attempt to land there anyway?

Having been involved with the New York art scene I witnessed artist doing whatever it took to be “noticed”. It seems as if talent, if that could be plausibly measured, did not ensure one’s acceptability in the art world. So, people did “whatever it took” to put their feet in the direct line of viewership.

As a student the politics envolved in this charade was less than appealing made ever so disingenuous when I started interning for a famous installation artist. If you didn’t know, the “made” ( big name, famous) artist in New York hired student artist to paint, sculpt, design and much more. They were savvy orchestrators who put their minions to work on their behalf. Many times taking credit for work they did not produce. Luckily, the lady whom I worked for, and the huge project I helped with; including designing, the naming of the project, and runing to and fro for her, well in the end, she included me in the contributing list of people who helped. However, in New York, that was not the rule but the exception, I got really lucky.

I was in New York on a scholarship and my time there was instrumental, eye opening and exciting. I met hugely talented kids from all over the US and established NY artist who were all trying to make an imprint on the art world. We met with respected curators and art critics in intimate settings. We went to artists lofts and studio spaces, we were being inducted, so to speak into the billion dollar art industry. It was a massive machine that revolved around artistic talent, sound business principles, and schmoozing, lots of schmoozing. In New York everyone had a take, big dreams and a desperate need to find their artistic niche. One thing that I will say is that the community was safe and people looked after each other like a big family, for the most part. I left New York in as much as a hurry as when arrived. I was bound to come back I figured one day, everyone felt the same. New York was the place to go to live ones art life, the culture, the atmosphere and vibe screamed art, I’ll never forget it.

(to be continued…)