Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Why Cheap Art Manifesto, Bread and Puppets

I'm changing how I sell my work on this blog because I've been thinking a lot about the economics of art and the current state of the economy.   Before this recent election I became convinced that my voice, power, choices and vote are expressed most honestly and clearly through how I choose to spend my MONEY.  What do I want to support in this world? Art? Yes.  Beauty? Yes.  Local Healthy Organic Food/Farms? Yes.  Local Business?  Yes.  People and organizations that create positivity in my community and in the world? YES!!!  

So, I'm making some changes.  Here are my thoughts:

I've been thinking about how to get my art out there in the world. How can I sell it and share it?  How can I make it available in a way that is fair and takes into account the buyer's budget and/or skills along with my dream to earn some income using my talents?  

A friend of mine from years past and I were very interested in starting a cafe that ran on the principle of "Pay What You Can" based on the idea that almost all human beings are inherently good. The idea is that those who have a padded wallet will pay equal or more than the value of the product.  Those who are more financially strapped will pay equal or what they can. Those who are truly hungry and lack the ability to pay money will be fed anyway and can perhaps trade a skill in return.  I know this idea is idealistic but to me there is something inherently honest about it.  An economic yet energetic exchange can feel respectful from both sides.

Like Bread and Puppets states in its Why Cheap Art Manifesto, art, beauty, the food of the soul need to be available to everyone.  At the same time many artists including myself want to get their ideas, images, songs, poetry out there and share them.  Art requires an audience. The dynamic relationship between the artist and audience -- however difficult due to economic and social restraints -- must exist for there to be an active creative spirit threaded through society.  

In case you are wondering, Bread and Puppets is a theater troupe based in Vermont.  On Halloween I saw them do a political, funny, circus like performance at The Northampton Center for the Arts.  I highly recommend seeing them if they come through your town.

I am taking the prices off my paintings and future creations here on this blog.  Those of you who are truly interested in having a creation of mine can come to me, email me, call me and we can have a conversation.  I can't give my art away, but one can make an offer that feels fair to them and that takes into account their personal budget ($$$ or barter) with the hope from my end that they see value in the time, energy and materials it takes to create something unique.  My idea is that one person might pay $50 cash plus $50 worth of locally grown vegetables while another may have a skill I want to learn that they can teach me in exchange.  A person might have $500 cash to pay for a painting while another person might have a piece of artwork, clothing, jewelry, furniture or other handmade item that we can exchange.  I am interested in having open conversations to see how this approach can work.  If you want something that I have created to have a home with you, lets talk!  If you want to talk more about these ideas, let's talk!


  1. Interesting…

    The concept “pay what you can” for music (at least) I know it was a huge success for the boys from Radio Head. And even if they could sell at any price, because as we know, they’re as big as Beatles or Nirvana, they come with this friendly approach to their listeners. Check their website, I think even now you can download their album and pay as you want, and if you don’t want, don’t pay.

    Now, I feel challenged to discuss about art, about that manifesto. I don’t know exactly how to handle that theme, because is so generous and so vague, so subjective and yet so historical. Here are some of my thoughts…as one who touched most of the arts, at least as a consumer (because one of the artist’s behaviors is to produce but also consume art), I could say that art cannot be cheap.

    Art is an intimate tool, and function as a mirror for our sights to this world, and reflects our ancestral memories from Paradise. And because we’re not perfect, this mirror distorts the images.
    Art is not only beauty. Art is our private way to represent beauty along with ugliness, mystery, fear, sadness, etc.
    Art is either free or industry. For this reason, art belong to everybody, but not everybody can live from art.
    Between the arts, music is distinct…music seems connected stronger to our soul, that’s why is possible to sing when we’re in pain. Some gifted persons say that music is the language of the Angels.
    Theatre is a very elaborate way to tell stories. It is a team work and English define it very well as a “play” like when you play a game. It is mostly industry, along with cinema. Still, they can touch our souls.
    Art is good or bad, independently of the popularity.
    Art can cure, can offer an escape. But art is not necessarily a prayer. But as icons painters showed us, art and pray can go along very well.

    And may happen that I have some more thoughts…


    Henryk Gorecki just died last Friday…

  2. Thank you for your thoughts about my post Razvan. I have some thoughts to share with you when I have more time to write about this topic.

    I have your CD of Henryk Gorecki in my studio and now that work has slowed down I will have time to quietly savor the piece of music in an appropriate way. I'll let you know what I think.