Making Marks in the Marketplace

Posted by on Nov 21, 2008 in Art Coverage

A panel dicussion at



  1. markcreegan
    November 23, 2008

    There is nothing about my approach to teaching art that advocates an apprehension or ambivalence about craft. In fact, just the opposite is true.

    My concept of craft (or a well-made thing) follows Deborah Fisher’s “makerthinker” idea, that something is made the way it needs to be made.

    I absolutely recognize the great benefit to the imagination of learning the rudimentary observational skills, the qualities of different materials and different techniques. Understanding that having a knowledge of the underlying skeletal structure of the human form allows one to do more than just draw the surface of that form well. Likewise, enhancing one’s observational skills has more applications than objective drawing.

    The vast majority of my lessons would parallel those of a teacher interested in creating little Durers or diligent figurative painters. But if that is all I helped create then I feel I have failed as a teacher. The main thing I try to impart is the idea that these skills are tools in service of the imagination. Achieving a certain level of craft is not the end goal. One example of this is William Kentridge. Towards the end of each term I show a video about the artist to show how he uses the same techniques we have covered in the semester in an extremely relevant and dynamic way. And the craft of his work is determined by what he wants to communicate- it is developed by the process of making art. This is what I mean by “craft issues take care of themselves.”

  2. another ben
    November 23, 2008

    The main thing I try to impart is the idea that these skills are tools in service of the imagination. Achieving a certain level of craft is not the end goal.

    Ok, we appear to be in agreement.
    I think I see what you mean about Kentridge.
    I see it like jazz…you need to know the rules before you can break them.
    Otherwise, instead of freedom, you’re stuck in the confines of ignorance (football eyes).

    Frank, I feel the same way about loosing skills that took hundreds of years to quire.
    Artists of the past were superhuman.
    Has anyone read about Mary Cassatt’s training under Degas?

    But here’s my original question, which I don’t remember hearing a direct response to:
    Do we care if our work is uninteresting?
    Should our work have an impact on people?

  3. kurt polkey
    November 23, 2008

    How do you guys and gals feel about John Currin?

  4. valuistics
    November 23, 2008

    I love how this discussion has blossomed, but since I was out of it for a day I think people are in different territory than I am. I’m still on culture and education and I’d like to question one thing that Frank said, although by and large I have been agreeing with him in this thread. Good to see you on here Frank!

    “In reference to why-how-what to do to get a thriving art scene, I would say hinges greatly not on educated people caring about art (contemporary or otherwise) but attracting people willing to pay for it. There is nothing special in the NY’s water that makes great art, there are more people there with more money wanting to spend it. Artist gets paid, and concentrates solely on making more art.”

    This is true. There are more folks up there with money. But it’s culturally richer too. I know you’re not saying that Jacksonville doesn’t have a large population of wealthy investor-class people, right? Because in my experience I have seen that it indeed does. The issue is cultural and that plugs back into education somewhere. New York not only has wealthy people (don’t you need to be a millionaire to afford a place there?) but it is also a more cosmopolitan place, a world city, a center for converging cultures and a melting pot of creativity. There is not just more wealth, there is a more pluralistic culture. There are more people who can afford art AND think it is a vital good, a valuable commodity sure, but also vital to a life well-lived. Art is diffused in the culture there to a much more advanced degree than most places.

    Comparing any place to NY, especially a place like Jacksonville is unfair. There may be something in the water there that reinforces the idea of art being valuable. Certainly the visibility of art there reinforces its role in the eyes of society. Down here we have a deficiency of it. Of course by water I mean another important public work: education. I still stand by the idea that a lack of education (among several other factors) contributes to a dead space in the community where art should be but isn’t.

    We have a wealthy population and we have galleries that cater directly to them (although it is probably more fun for them to go up to New York and buy art than it is to shop for it down here. I would if I were rich.) In most cases, the JAX galleries that cater to the tastes of the investor class don’t make a lot of money but because they are propped up by a monied backer (there is always a backer- always someone who wants to see it go on and have the parties) they stay afloat. They bring in art from other places. Our art is not really for them, or so it would seem. So we show at Opaq and have a PBR.

    The troubles that JAX’s contemporary artists and artists not solely making work for the decorative market (hey that’s us!) are having is partly cultural in that their work does not get the exposure with the people who have the means to buy it. There are cultural and political forces shaping that. These folks don’t all go to the Museums. A lot of them go to the megachurch, they go to Jags games, they go to the boat shows, they live in gated communities far from town. Buy a pretty boat scene for the game room. Sure. Support local culture? Support some artist who, I don’t know, likes Obama, hates the war, laughs at Palin and questions God? Okay that’s hyperbolic but you see my point. The culture is conservative. there I said it.

    It does hinge on educated cultured people caring about art in addition to people just having money for it.

    We have people who will spend thousands annually on luxury skyboxes at Jaguar games, but they would never buy our art even if hell froze over.

    That to me is not a problem with too few wealthy people in the area, to me that says that large numbers of the wealthy here couldn’t give two shits about the very idea of society, let alone its betterment through cultural enterprises like art. Privatization, standardization, monopolization and lowest-common-denominator, mediated, mass-produced religion and culture will suffice in its stead.

    There are plenty of people who would buy our art if they had the money. There are many who can afford to support culture and don’t. Or they do but just in their little enclave (read about the geographical issue earlier in the thread.) There is only the narrowest overlapping of those who can afford contemporary art and those who want to buy it, want to support the arts and artists. These are the ones profiled in the Our Collectors portion of this site.

    Taste, distinction, these things are ties directly to education and culture. You can have loads of money and not a lick of taste.

  5. Ali
    November 23, 2008

    Im into the once a month critique idea. It sounds exciting and scary.
    I love reading these discussions! I think I am too quick to judge a lot of art. I feel like it would be a good exercise to have to justify my thoughts.

  6. Shannon Estlund
    November 23, 2008

    This too refers to earlier parts of this discussion.

    I like the ideas for meeting at MOCA, and having online critiques, but I’m still hoping to get a small group together for monthly critiques. For me, it’s really important to be standing in front of the work. I remember the first time I saw a Francis Bacon painting in person. I couldn’t believe how thin the paint was, compared to how I imagined it looking from photos.

    I’m also really interested in what other artists in town are up to, and could definitely use a little more critical feedback for my own work. I just talked to my friend and studio-mate Ali Isabelle, and she’s interested too. If enough people are in, we could volunteer to go first. We have a studio near Park & King in Riverside. How about Wednesday Dec 10, 7:30 pm? And then each month, the group could go wherever the work is. If an artist was uncomfortable with a group showing up at their work space, we may be able to offer our studio as a meeting ground, but I’m hoping we’d get to see most people’s work space too.

    Anyone who’s interested, please email me at [email protected]. I’ll email the address and any other updates/info.

    Byron, I’ll leave it up to you whether this be a jaxcal related thing or if it’s better organized outside of jaxcal, with any interesting news passed along.

    I really think we can help each other be stronger artists, and that can only help the local arts scene.

    Also, if anyone else wanted to volunteer to be the first artist, we’d be cool with that. It’s kind of an awkward time for Ali & I because we don’t have all our work at the studio, but I think we can still have a productive talk, and we want to get the ball rolling.

    I really hope a few of you will want to join us. And thanks Byron, for the forum and for all the work you’ve done to get the art scene organized.

  7. another ben
    November 23, 2008

    Hey Ali, I saw your work at that place in five points. We all stood around and lavished praise upon it.

    Kurt: I like this piece. The rest are sorta…flat? I respect the skill but the pieces just aren’t my thing I guess.

  8. Yvonne
    November 23, 2008

    “I think your idea of having an online critique is a great one.
    Any ideas on how the work would be selected? and or rules for the critique? How often it would happen? Would folks be interested?”

    Well Byron, you could do this a couple of ways.

    to find the artists you could have:
    1. a general call for artists through email & posting the question “who wants to be critiqued?” and see what you get.
    2. someone can go to local shows in jax, take a few pics of a particular artist’s work(s) and start a thread critiquing that person’s work.

    to select the artists to critique:
    1. it could be first come, first serve after the call is made
    2. random drawing
    3. pick a few names and run it by the contributors of your blog and have a vote
    4. suggestions from your audience
    *it’s your blog so you can mix it up however you feel is appropriate

    1. ” Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.”
    2. Constructive criticism, if you don’t like it say why you don’t like it and so on…
    3. optional: have the artist in on it so they can respond to the critiques or if necessary give some background on their work. It’d be more raw and real though, if it was based on just the work in front of you.

    How often?
    i would say one critique a week is reasonable. That depends of course on the response. Maybe one every 2 weeks.

    I do think that some artists would be interested, but it’s hard to say. I always looked forward to critiques in school. I like the criticism, I like to know if I’m accomplishing what I set out to do with my work. .

    I don’t mind volunteering to be a guinea pig. It’s been about 10 years since I last had a formal critique, it’s about time.

    On what James said, there is a definite tie with education and an appreciation of art. I have two separate friends who I love to death but sometimes going to art shows with them would be frustrating because they could really care less about the art and spent more time insulting the work and it’s prices than actually looking and thinking about it for a minute. It had nothing to do with them being bad people or rude or shallow, they had not been introduced to art outside of pretty things that match your furniture.

    Now after being friends with them for several years and educating them a little on art, they both have recently purchased works by local artists, all by themselves out of their own accord (and no it wasn’t my work they bought.) Both of them shocked me, when they told me they wanted to buy something at the shows we were at. It was unexpected, but I was so proud of them. They are also looking forward to the next piece they may add to their collection.

    I spend a lot of time educating people outside of the art scene about art just in conversation. My little sister (13 yrs old) has a new appreciation for art after I put her to work helping me paint a mural and my older sister (33 yrs old) just took her first art class ever and has found so much fulfillment in creating something with her hands. It’s funny how exposing people to art, the process, the creation, the thoughts, …etc really opens the eyes and brings a new respect to the art around you. The exposure can be in the form of galleries, education, murals, workshops, the media, or even just simple conversation can make a big difference.


  9. valuistics
    November 23, 2008

    Weekly crit, I could be down. How about we try one on the site? Couldn’t we make a post with a gallery of 4-5 artists images then open up comments? It’s what I’m starting to do with 2D Design students. You can see the results of some of our online crits at

  10. Byron King
    November 23, 2008

    As much as I’d love to meet in person, I’ve been witness to groups starting out large and gradually shrinking when trying to organize weekly get togethers through this blog. One day it was just me, there and I blogged about it anyway. James that’s rad how you are using your web site as a critique tool for your students. Thanks for sharing that. Looks like it’s working really well. I don’t see why we couldn’t do a weekly critique of local art here. It sure would make things easier for folks like myself with many obligations.

    I do appreciate you guys volunteering your space though and the ideas about a structure. Very kind. And I do understand what you are talking about Shannon about seeing work in person and the difference it makes.

    maybe we could start out here online and see how it goes, and if there is real interest in it, possibly get a more physical structure worked out.

    Way to go James, using your new web site for teaching purposes. Really proud of your new found techie geekdom. You are well on your way my friend 🙂

  11. kurt polkey
    November 23, 2008

    I say if Shannon wants to host an artist critique, then we should all do our best to support it. Blogs are great, but they should not take the place of physical interaction. Those that can’t make it because of jobs or kids then you can have the opportunity to comment on the blog. I know there are going to be times when I can’t make it.
    I think Yvonne has set up the rules pretty well.
    I hear you Byron, it can be pretty frustrating, but we have to keep going on.
    Francis Bacon didn’t prime his canvases. The paintings are really dull. That’s why he insisted on them always being under glass.

  12. Byron King
    November 23, 2008

    Kurt. Thanks man. I couldn’t agree with you more now that you put it that way.

    I guess I was a bit let down the last time I tried to organize a get together through this blog although it lasted nearly three months which is pretty successful.

    Let’s do it. We have a date and a spot. I’ll document it if I can, and we’ll continue the dialogue via the blog.

  13. Frank
    November 24, 2008


    John Currin… As far as feelings goes, I hate his work. Bare in mind, all my opinions are based on seeing reproductions of his work. I say this while recognizing that a photo of a painting can never capture that flow of the paint or impact (scale, true tones, overall impressions) of the painting. My first reaction is how can someone be so skilled in craft produce such vapid work. I think of his work like I think of Star Wars Episode 1, a movie comletely devoid of soul.. “you spent 150 millions and all you could pull together was that, Lucas?!? You need to go steal from another Kurasawa movie..” His paintings strike me a flat both in use of media and soul. It strikes me as work by someone who spends way to much time in a studio or gallery, and not enough time in the realness of life. Explained another way, he’s work looks to me like a product created to appear as art, rather than work created as an honest reaction to the messiness/beauty/love/hate of life. Even the technique appears to have a flat quality to it.

    ..but, I say again, that’s just an impression I so far have. More reading or seeing the wok in person can change that.


    Good to meet you too. I think I can see where you’re coming from. You have giving pause to think, although you say “conservative’ like its a dirty word. I would refer to myself as mightly conservative, moreso from my expirences in my job.

    I’d prefer that critique sessions to be in person, with possible a mandatory blog converation to follow up. It would be so much better to see the work in person, take it in properly and then talk in person… With an extra online conversation afterwards, it would allow for time to mull over and think about the work. I’m kinda slow witted… sometimes it takes a few days to overcome prejudgies and sort it all out. I find that my intial responses to art can be without the benefit thoughtful appeciation.

    El Greco was my surpise. Hated the work in books. In person, WOW.

  14. valuistics
    November 24, 2008

    Oh conservative is not a dirty word. The way I go on about how people ought to be reading, promoting real family values and thinking inside the box again, I hardly qualify for a real cultural liberal. I don’t mean the original and outdated word conservative, mind you, where it more or less denoted a brand of fiscal sobriety, I mean the modern or neo version, the Palin version, the O’Reily kind, The Hannity kind, The Michael Savage and Anne Coulter eliminationist versions where y’know they talk about who should be dragged out in the street and shot. The quasifascist stuff. The kind that undercuts science and charges into countries unilaterally. “The Real America.” y’know- the kind my grand dad wouldn’t recognize. And the fundamentalist fringe of that which is more radicalism than classic conservatism. That’s what I mean, not your classic definition of conservatism. I think it’s good to conserve.

    But I’m done talking politics for a good long time.

    Note: my online crits are all continued AFTER a real 3 hour long crit in class. I know that may not be clear from my site, but the students are responding well after the fact after they have done an initial in-person crit. So I’m all for an online gallery that documents a real live crit session. Then we can put this bloggy to work.

  15. Byron King
    November 24, 2008

    You mean like how liberal was a dirty word for the entire McCain campaign.

    I can just hear Fox news saying the word liberal like they were saying the f-bomb now. I’m so glad that’s over.

    I wanted to make a bumper sticker back then saying “Liberal ain’t a dirty word” but was scared I might get run off the road down here in the South. No joke.

    Politics will come out in critiques for sure. This will be a practice in diplomacy of the utmost if it indeed it does take place. And I’m game for sure.

  16. Frank
    November 24, 2008

    Liberalism…?! Ouch! Like so much sandpaper to my gentle ears! (note a WINK for humour).

    I figure if everyone agrees, then there not much of a point to a critique.

  17. valuistics
    November 24, 2008

    Hey we’re being praised for not blowing it with negativity here! This is supposed to be a productive conversation. So enough about politics. What about the crit?

    I made a point that the online crit is good in addition to a real live crit. Any disagree? Okay. Here’s our assignment: Everybody start holding small group crits and record them with video or pictures. Then we post them and have people add comments.


  18. Byron King
    November 24, 2008

    I like assignments and I’m good at taking orders 🙂

    I like online and live, no issues with that.

    I like the idea of small groups getting together when they can and having critiques so it’s more open. Definitely would like to take advantage of the invite to Shannon and Ali’s space though to do one though if that’s still open.

  19. valuistics
    November 24, 2008

    Okay then. So let’s try it at Shannon’s & Ali’s first and set up a schedule. I may have time to prepare a schedule, I may not. A good way to start would be to get a list of every artist who is interested. Could we make a signup page on the site, Byron?

    I think it should be a weekend thing or a Friday thing. One fun thing about maybe doing a crit in a small group on a Friday or Saturday, but you could then go out to local shows afterwards. What a good way to 1. meet other artists in the flesh and talk about their work, and have the favor returned, but 2. Show solidarity and support for the artist community.

    This is great. This is a step in the right direction. The art community here will do things together (constituting a scene, I gather) if artists become their own booster group. Why does it sound like such an old-school idea? Is this why grand dad was in so many clubs? Because he believed in community? Never really made this connection before but our grandparent’s generation had more people involved in local clubs: Rotary, Elks, Veterans, Garden, Church, Bowling Leagues, etc. And they knew everybody in their town. Why, the answer is so simple. If we want a community then we need to activate the community that is here via a club. But how to prevent it from becoming a clique? Because art cliques turn people off and its already clique-y enough.

    I picture a scene like in the beginning of the movie Warriors, with every crit club from every hood representing, but agreeing to the same terms. Then of course there’s the rest of the movie…

    The first rule of Crit Club: Tell everybody about Crit Club.

  20. byron king
    November 24, 2008

    Cool James.

    Let’s not complicate it anymore than it has to be. If you are interested just shoot an email to [email protected] with your name
    and contact info. That should be enough to get us started. Then maybe I’ll add a link off the sidebar for it in the future.

    Put in the subject bar: Crit Club I guess.

    Thanks James.

  21. jim draper
    November 24, 2008

    Everyone must keep talking. These conversations should include
    a lot of different people who are in different places in their
    lives. I think it would be good for several artists to work on
    projects together, not sure what that would be, but that is
    a good way to build.


  22. Shannon Estlund
    November 24, 2008

    I agree about keeping it simple for now. First let’s just show up. Then we can look around and see who else showed up. Then we can bang out the details.

    I would say that I’m a little intimidated by the idea of the entire crit being on camera. I think it’s important for an artist to hear the rough first impressions people have about their work, and we might miss out on some of that if some people (me included) are concerned about thinking out a well-worded response to a piece because of the presence of the camera. I suppose I could get used to it if it were imortant to other people. But maybe we could do half and half?

    I’m so glad we have some interest in the crit group! I think it can become a really valuable tool for all of us.

  23. valuistics
    November 24, 2008

    Agreed, Byron and Shannon. With past efforts to get people together still fresh in mind, it would be most valuable to establish attendance at the crit meetings and get the word out, to just start doing it. Then we’ll worry about formal concerns later.

    Shannon- the crit would not have to be video recorded at all. A few photos of the works would be enough. Just some documentation would be needed if the crit is to continue on in the form of a blog with comments for future dialogue. If you don;t want to do that, no big deal. It’s just that we’re having such a good back and fourth here it would perhaps be beneficial to utilize this network in the service of boosting the critical framework.

    This could also be a jumping off point for reviewing. The more we familiarize ourselves with various artists, the deeper we can go in interviews and reviews of shows.

  24. Shannon Estlund
    November 24, 2008

    That sounds great James. I was picturing a video camera running the whole time. What you describe sounds very useful and not at all inhibiting.

  25. byron king
    November 24, 2008

    I was really hoping to video them if I was involved with them. I love video for documentation. Especially for something like this.

    But I agree, about any sort of documentation at all, via photos of the work, etc. would need to be done of each one if we are to continue the discussion via the bloggy.

    Sure love video though, especially for these types of events.

  26. kurt polkey
    November 24, 2008

    How ’bout The Wanderers?

  27. Shannon Estlund
    November 24, 2008

    maybe that could be the first topic of discussion- how much video-ing. If I’m the only one who’s concerned then I’ll just get used to it.

  28. Shannon Estlund
    November 24, 2008

    in person discussion, that is.

  29. Byron King
    November 24, 2008

    Let’s just play it by ear. Got your email. You had some good points. Maybe video is good that it would even make people think a little more before they speak. I believe thinking before one speaks in a critique is a good thing. Possibly even listening is more important than speaking though I’ve found out (in life in general).

    But all we really need is a few photos and a blog post just to continue the dialogue and document that it happened. Either way though.

    Thanks Shannon.

  30. morrison
    November 25, 2008

    this is great exposure for the artists who have joined in such a liberal discussion, next week is art basel in miami and when bk and kurt and creegan and myself maybe some others, are there it will be a good feeling to finally hand them a globatron business card. the blog has grown and a healthy discussion has saved us from one anothers anger at the city. thanks to all for growing with the site, we can change the status quo if we just apply ourselves a little….

  31. » Archive » Why is worth reading (JAX people)
    November 25, 2008

    […] blog called JAXCal have been met. And the world is starting to turn for Jacksonville artists. Check out this post on Globatron and tell me it doesn’t contain artists doing what they do best: solving problems […]

  32. Frank
    November 25, 2008

    In reference to the original questions about creating an art scene, I’ve been thinking about something Kurt wrote on Madeleine’s blog. Paraphrased, Kurt mentioned his experience with gallery owner’s in other cities (from established art markets) were very apprehensive about investing time/money into an artist living outside that city (correct me if I’m wrong, Kurt). That attitude does make since, after all, they got a BUSINESS to run.

    I’ve been studying the street art scene for a while. Some of the work is really tight, other work not so much so… but what is neat is that they have built thier community heavily on the internet, and the galleries representing such folk appear far more willing to invest in artists well outside thier cities. I think one reason the galleries are more comfortable is because of the extremely tight internet community (these artist come with a built in audience). Some artist have established careers in which galleries play a relatively some part (Sheppard Fairey a successful example).

    It intrigues me that one street artist (regardless of age, skill, place in life) can put up a wheatpast in an unnamed alley in whatever city, and a few hours later, 100,000 people see it on the net word wide. Now that’s exposure.

    I suppose these folks are taking that path that for three reasons: they are young and don’t know no better, the need for anonymity, and they often live countries apart.

    Either way, if it’s all Greek to you, take a look at, it’s link to streetsy,, or just Google STENCIL STREET ARTIST GRAFFITI… or artist Swoon, ElbowToe, Armsrock, Herakut, London Police, Logan Hicks, etc.

    I’m not proposing to go and glue/spraypaint/stencil up downtown, but these folks got something going for them. After all, I’m blogging about them, they ain’t blogging about me…..

  33. kurt polkey
    November 25, 2008

    “Americans want, first, signs of a special talent. Second is lots of evident labor; third comes nonabject materials. The fourth requisite is realism, followed by noble (or at least not ignoble) content”.

    An art professor’s take on art as told to the art writer and artist Peter Plagen.

  34. Byron King
    November 28, 2008

    So far we’ll have a huge crowd at this 🙂

    Kurt is the only person who has responded saying they could make it.

    If you are coming shoot an email with the subject Crit Club to

    [email protected].

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it that day due to medical reasons. Dang it. Sorry all.

    Dec. 10th at 7:30. Please respond and I’ll pass the list on to Shannon and Ali.



  35. Whats been going on? « The Outer Box
    December 1, 2008

    […] to get done for me. In closing here is a damn good read that I suggest every artist in Jacksonville takes a good look at over at Here is a quote from Mark Creegan and Byron King that I really enjoyed and really hit home with […]

  36. Shannon Estlund
    December 8, 2008

    An update on the group critique at Ali & Shannon’s studio:
    We will be there at 7:30 this Wednesday, Dec. 10. We would love for anyone to show up. We have invited people, and seen some interest, but no one has yet said that they would definitely attend. Our studio is at 2746 Park St. It is the yellow building with the blue awning with “ish” painted on it, directly across from European Street. It’s going to be a fun and productive night, with wine (or byob), so come on! And if nobody shows, we’ll paint instead, and we’ll regroup and try this again some time soon. If you need more details, email me at [email protected]. Also email me if you like the idea but can’t come this time, because I’m really not giving up on this.
    Byron, I’m so sorry you won’t be there. If anything comes of it I’ll do my best to document it for you.

  37. Shannon Estlund
    December 8, 2008

    P.S. knock loud- we’re upstairs, but we’ll be listening.

  38. Byron King
    March 5, 2009

    After this 87 comment thread what was the turnout for the art critique? I remember asking Shannon and I believe it was four people all and all. They had a good time, but the turnout was indeed small.

    I find it strange that we can easily type away and make comments about how to improve things, but when we have to meet at a specific spot to make actual steps in the right direction we can’t commit. I was having surgery that day so I think I’m exempt.

    One event we did as a group that I’m still proud of was this low budget art installation at Memorial Park:

    I’d love to see more quick, cheap, group building, community awareness projects like this. We should strive to do one monthly I believe. Quarterly at least.

    We definitely talk about art enough as a group. It’d be nice to work on a project together in the process.


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