Art and Whining

I leave Karl Gnass’s figure drawing class with mixed feelings. On the one hand, my skills have improved a lot.

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On the other hand, there’s a vibe in the room that I’m really coming to dislike.

There isn’t any one person I dislike at all (quite to the contrary, I’ve learned a lot from everyone), but the overall chemistry of the room is at times stifling. Too much negative energy and bitterness. Last week, the model’s offhand comment about Americans being more interested than the Brits in William and Kate’s wedding turned into a landslide of rants about everything that’s wrong with American culture, how professional sports are the bread and circuses of the masses, how athletes are overpaid, and how we’re all being manipulated by those in political power. Karl was part of this rant session too.

I really hate it when artists get on a whiny high horse like this. I’m not against political rants per se, but I worked in DC for seven years and I have a lot of respect for people who take action when they’re unhappy about a local, specific issue than people who sit on their butts and complain about the political landscape in general. I hate to say this, but put up or shut up.

Second, what is with that snobbery towards pop culture? Why the hatred of professional sports? Or rather, if you’re not into sports, fine, but why such pride in hating sports? America is a land of contradictions. We elected both Obama and Bush. We turned both Harry Potter and Twilight into bestsellers. I don’t pretend to like everything about mainstream America. But I have an even lower tolerance for artists who sit around and complain about everything.

If you hate your audience so much, and think they’re such unenlightened meatheads, why bother producing creative work at all? I have nothing but respect for people who go to work each day, raise their kids, take them to Little League games, take them to the library, teach them to think, and raise them to be contributing citizens. These are the people who keep the economy going. These are the people I’d like to entertain as an artist. These are my friends, many of whom are still fans of their hometown teams and snuck at least a casual glance at Kate’s wedding dress.

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