My latest column about the Heard show (http://gregoryp.blogspot.com
This is an open call for information and dialogue, which will appear in a future New Mexico Art News column should the din prove loud enough to warrant it. I will take comments on or off the record as sources demand. There are a number of you I expect to hear from - if you know of anyone else whose voice would add to this topic, please feel free to forward this mail - contrary to popular belief, I don’t have *everyone’s* email address - yet. For those of you who do so, please feel free to cross-post to myspace. Write me back here or call me at 505-514-4774.
A flurry of communication between myself and SWAIA Executive Director Bruce Bernstein ensued, a positive exchange about what could be unearthed if I got people talking about the issue.
Today, I received word that I am to meet with Bruce and the Standards committee co-chairs next week. All I can say for certain (other than that, yes, I am a bit intimidated) is that either a) they think they have something to worry about, or b) that SWAIA is really very interested in hearing what people have to say on this issue.
I have said it before and I'll say it again. I didn't report what I reported to slam Indian Market - I thought it was such an ingrained legend that Market isn't open to innovation that everyone just simply knew. I didn't expect anyone to react to it at all. It was like an inside joke at the bottom of the paragraph...
But what I really mean to say that I've said before and I'll say again is that "I'm not interested in throwing out the baby with the bath water." And I mean that. Indian Market is a lot more than just a big show - it's a paycheck for 1500 artists and I'm less interested in slamming it for what it isn't than I am in celebrating it for what it is.
That being said, however, I so think that Market has a fine line to walk in terms of satisfying two main objectives. The first objective is that SWAIA and Indian Market are, to a degree, responsible for maintaining a sound and integrated definition of Indian Art so as to promise the collectors of such objects "the real McCoy." On the other hand, as the standard bearer for an evolving conversation about "What is Indian Art?" SWAIA and Indian Market also owes its artists the opportunity to evolve with new materials and new technologies. How can SWAIA walk that fine line and satisfy both needs?
This is a most interesting conversation, one that I figured would garner lots of people wanting to speak out and have a say. So far, however, ALL of the artist who have contacted me - say a half dozen - have been reluctant (at best) to speak on the record about the topic. Even artists whom I would consider "untouchable" (and you can make guesses but I'll keep my mouth shut) have told me point-blank that it benefits no one to be labeled "a trouble-maker" with SWAIA. They too refuse to speak on the record...
So what ends up happening, (and you'll excuse my boldness) is that two non-Indian non-artists (myself and Bruce) are basically the only people having this conversation, which strikes me as downright silly. I really don't have anything in particular to gain by talking or writing about this, particularly if there are no artists who want to talk about what is happening or even that its happening at all.
What I would ask of you is this: If you know of anyone out there who wants to address this issue, on or off the record, please have them get in touch with me. I will be pleased to let you know that most of the artists who have contacted me don't have what I'm after, which is *specific* instances of how the Standards committee kept their work or work of someone they know out of Market. Most paint a broadly generalized picture of a BELIEF that IM keeps down contemporary art, but again, they lack a specific instance that someone could hang their hat on (or that I could hang a story on.) And then they refuse to testify about that belief to anyone but me, which is flattering but not terribly helpful.
The pot, as they say, is stirred up. Now it remains for someone to hand me something with which I can fill it.