Some people have asked me why the subtitle: Greetings from the Cultural Wasteland. I’ m an artist living in North Carolina-“Nuff said,” Right? But let me cite a few examples that might clarify, shine a light on things.
A few years back, I entered a juried exhibition sponsored by the Raleigh Fine Arts Society. The juror, a painter from Virginia, accepted the work for the show. It was a figure painting, a nude, front and center, but no more provocative than what you might see in any art museum in the world. I went to drop the painting off and two ladies from the society exclaimed in restrained horror: “We can’t show that!” After a big go-round, they agreed to display it at the opening, but only at the opening. I had to then come and take it down. I arrived at the tail end of the opening to find the painting hung behind a staircase in the dark. Needless to say, I asked to be removed from their mailing list. The two upsides to the episode: I got my 35$ entry fee refunded, and I started to think that I must be doing something right. After all, without trying to offend or shock anyone, I still did; though admittedly, it’s not hard to offend some of these bible thumpers down here.
This second example is a bit more painful, a real dagger. If you’ve seen this blog, you know that I’ve written and published a book of short stories. I asked the owner of the gallery where I exhibit if she would send an e-blast out to her list of clients announcing that one of her gallery artists has a book out. At first, she was excited that I had written a book and said she would be happy to send the e-blast. Then a friend told her that she had to be careful, that if any of her clients read the book and found any part of it offensive they might object. So she refused without so much as a word to me-nothing to discuss. She was too afraid she might offend the delicate sensibilities of some of the country club ladies that patronize the gallery. I admit a couple of the stories in the book contain some passages of mature subject matter, but that could have been easily remedied with a simple disclaimer: The book contains some material that may not be appropriate etc. etc. And let me be clear, the book is in no way overtly salacious or sexual, but there are those few passages.
So you see what I’m up against. Perhaps cultural wasteland is too kind.