The Art World As I Have Experienced It
My journey into the arts has its beginnings in reading and watching documentaries on art history. In college I read every book and watched ever video i could find concerning art and its history. I wanted to learn everything I could. The art world I had envisioned and the real art world are nothing like i thought it would be. After art school, I went in search of the art world. I found myself in New Orleans. New Orleans does have an art scene but it is not the art world I was looking for it was more dark and touristy than I thought it would be. Did you know it was illegal to draw or paint in the New Orleans French couture. I didn’t find what was looking for, so, I went back to school to learn more about the Art World. Pertinent information was to be found in magazines, like the New Art Examiner. I learned things about the art world and industry I couldn’t learn in textbooks. Armed with this new information, I came to Chicago and dove headfirst into the underground discovered the Chicago art scene. I experienced things that don’t exist in print. The Chicago underground art scene at that time was inclusive, experimental, and weird but amazing fun. Unfortunately that art scene doesn’t exist anymore. After this time in my life, I went to LA to make it big. I did in my own way. I started meeting celebrities and people with lots of money. I sold a ton of art work for big bucks. It was a crazy and fast-paced world. It was mix of yoga, prostitution, drugs, cults, celebs, and money. I made lots of money and lived for free but it was one strange trip that might make a great movie some day. I had to escape. It was too much.
I packed up my car and headed north with my partner. We wound up in Seattle. After house sitting for 30 days of non-stop rain, which was a Seattle record at the time, we took off for Hawaii. After being in sunny Hawaii for two days, my partner and i decided to stay. We had enough money to pay rent and live for the next year plus enough for me to get $10,000 worth of art supplies. I went to the local art supply store and said: “Here is ten thousand Dollars I want set up an account and get 60% off every thing i buy from now on”. I set up my new studio on the edge of Kilauea volcano in the rain forest on the big island of Hawaii. It was like a perfect dream in every way I was paradise. I made the decision to become the best painter I could be. I painted every day. Once I mastered the craft, I came back to Chicago. I was going to do it right. I built a foundation, and, then, I built a business. I hired an agent. I recruited interns and I started an artist group called Team Art! Chicago. I was invited to be part of Art Chicago’s next program and I discovered the art world I was looking for. I was finally in the room. Things were changing fast. I started getting invited to shows, fairs, and galleries. Then I faced the pay to play, scams. People were telling me that they could make me famous or a great artist for $$$ all your dreams can come true. I began believing the art world was like a fairy tail, a castle in the sky with unicorns and rainbows. But, I came to realize there are many art worlds or art kingdoms. And some art kingdoms are easy to become part off and others are extremely inclusive.
Currently, the art world is changing rapidly and seems different every year. There are too many artists to fit in the art world not enough kingdoms. Artist are getting run over and taking advantage of. The art worlds like a popularity contest. It isn’t about great art anymore. It is about money and power. If you are lucky enough to get into one of greater art kingdoms, there will always be people that want to kick you out or black list you always some trying to get a head and push you back words. No body wants their place to be taken. The user kingdoms of the art world art are more egocentric now then it has ever been. It truly is survival of the fittest.
My advice is to create you own art kingdom or join mine; together we are stronger together; we will conquer.
Allen Vandever is a Chicago contemporary artist, activist, entrepreneur, risk taker, story teller. Vandever lives life to the fullest incorporating art into every thing he does he truly makes art his life or would it be life his art
Volume 32 no. 1 September/October 2017 p 6