Art for the People

Art for the People: Animal Instinct

Lauren Purje, a fellow artist at Viridian Artists, just sent me a brief manifesto she’d glued together with scraps of paper a few years ago, announcing her project called Art for the People. It’s from back when she thought she could inspire a small movement where artists saw themselves as servants of their fans, painting things upon request, for almost nothing. To the sound of that, you may ask Lauren, what world do you live in? You will find Lauren roaming somewhere in the vicinity of the land where Lewis Hyde’s gift culture rules. That’s where. Her scanned document looks a bit like a ransom note, as if she were being held hostage by her own ideals—I, Lauren Purje’s superego, will release her into the wild only if you give her an idea for a painting and pay her $50 for whatever she creates, based on it. That’s how I imagine her conscience sounds–resorting to crime to save the world, calling itself her superego, but with its heart in the right place.

What I love about this is project of hers is how it attempts to cut through so much of what has isolated the art world from the vast majority of the population. It’s an attempt to connect with common people who simply want something meaningful to hang on a wall. Jim Ott has taken this even a step further in his itinerant artist project, which I wrote about recently, yet Lauren’s scheme feels to me like something many artists could try in some form or another. (It would be tougher for most of us, though. Not all of us can translate ideas into images the way she does, nor execute work as quickly.) Her one-woman movement goes back to the root of why people do art: to cherish what matters in their lives, as well as offering a way to step back and think about life’s quandaries with a sidelong perspective. That’s Lauren’s speciality, the quizzical irony, the sense of affectionate puzzlement about the most ordinary situations. I can’t go on; I must go on. That sort of thing. It’s what she keeps trying to visualize.

If you want her to paint something for you, keep your idea simple: a phrase, a situation, a moral dilemma, but don’t bother telling her how you want it to look. “In the beginning I said if you even say ‘I want it to be this color’ I will do the opposite. So keep it simple.” You can send an idea to: lpurje@gmail.com.

Here is her little manifesto/credo/marketing blurb, which is a delight to read as sharp commentary on what art has become as well as a charming bid to develop the cult following Purje deserves:

Art for the People

By the person: Lauren Purje

GIVEN the current state of affairs—inflating ART Market, hardly penetrable network of galleries and museums, ALONG WITH magazines chock full of ads and celebrity ART stars, style talked up as history instead of what it is: fad.

Artists have to learn to defend their work and market themselves.  Expect to share sales, pay entry fees, send proposals, write statements, build UP that resume UP UP UP.  Artists are advised to go to ART school, preferably high profile ones with the credentials, connections, and rank (ya know, the ones the buyers, curators, and collectors will pay attention to.)

OK. It’s functional [to a certain degree]. There’s no denying that adhering to the model of ladder climbing can work for some and possibly put food on the table for a few. What’s the problem?

OH YEAH! The basic and very fundamental reasons PEOPLE make stuff in the first place!

At one point we thought we had something to offer– an idea, a point of view, an opinion — some of us even practiced the SKILL and CRAFT of actual picture-making.  Early on we were tapping into this primal act of gift-giving until we grew up and it was brought to our attention that ART was a COMMODITY— [[thanks Andy W.]]

???When you stick a dead cat in formaldehyde, though it’s pretty cool, how far can you stretch the word “creativity” before it turns into “jackass”

AND what ever happened to enjoying the act of making?  That’s a whole-nother manifesto.

Though it’s really awesome having the Internet, giclee prints, and reproductions on our coffee tables, there’s something about holding a one-of-a-kind creation in your hand.

Made by one human being –> given to another.

Art can be pricy though- let’s face it.  And some of it IS worth the asking price.  I hold no grudge against artists OR wealthy patrons.  But maybe!!!the not-so-willing-to-go-broke-over-a-painting person out there can afford more than a reproduction.  MAYBE ARTISTS can make this happen.

SO I PRESENT TO YOU: $50 ART plus shipping.  SUGGEST A SUBJECT—> RECEIVE A UNIQUE ARTWORK

Cos when you can’t afford the t-bone, settle for the Salisbury–> it’s just as good!

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