HUSTLING THE DAMN ART CRITICS AT DAWN

By Gabriel Thy • Art Criticism • 5 Sep 2010

Bill Remington

DC Painter Bill Remington

WASHINGTON DC ARTIST Bill Remington ponders his mission as a magnificent painter—sharing this status report with his Facebook friends, of whom I am honored to be one, this morning:

Wondering why highly repected artists have told me they like my work and yet I get continually overlooked by reviewers of Artomatic?

Irresistibly compelled to regard my friend’s dilemma as my own, having asked myself the same plaguing question too many times without so much as an earnest paragraph to show from those who aspire to carry the baton for serious art criticism, I responded ever so snidely as if this were my sworn duty. “Indeed! I recall you topped MY AOM online list in ’07, but I also know THAT was a long time ago, months before I met you in person when you showed up at that Aroma “hanging” I suffered in September ’08. But hey dude, did you ever think the local art scene was anything that high school anywhere wasn’t? Cheers, if ya got ‘em, Bill…”

Let’s face it. Even purists occasionally need a wonderful sale. We may even jostle about the avenue thinking we need a heavy to moderate slather of high kicking publicity bliss to accompany those sales, so as to give aid and comfort to those of us floundering without sales.
Of course what I meant by this was that the DC art scene, and one must imagine that the same applies in any major art depot this side of North Star, it’s who you know, and who you blow sweet nothings to that moves the mountains of indifference many practitioners face every day of our so-called art career…

Forget the bullshit. Forget the romanticized Great Ones. Getting a fair shake in the camp of mediocrity is as bogus as the stale idea that Julian Schnabel is/was a great artist. He is/was in fact, a great self-promoter. And a pretty decent a film director.

But Remington wasn’t satisfied with the snappy quip and skip to my Lou, my darling, replying again in the same hapless manner so many of us in the art business have bowed in tacit submission. Straining one’s self-respect to near breaking point, there are many of us who find ourselves in one psychological struggle or another just to work up enough muscle to dare paint another damn day, much less another masterpiece, for naught. What’s this about the workman deserving a day’s pay for a days work? It’s just not enough anymore to accept a mere pat on a back to keep the fires stoked when there are mouths to feed for a talent everyone admires, but nobody can afford.

Even purists occasionally need a wonderful sale. We may even jostle about the avenue thinking we need a heavy to moderate slather of high kicking publicity bliss to accompany those sales, so as to give aid and comfort to those of us floundering without sales.

Forget the bullshit. Forget the romanticized Great Ones. Getting a fair shake in the camp of mediocrity is as bogus as the stale idea that Julian Schnabel is/was a great artist. He is/was in fact, a great self-promoter. And a pretty decent a film director.
But really, isn’t the only thing we the bridegrooms of great art want and consistently hunger after is simply justification for our energies. On a daily basis we are forced to stare down the beast of reality. No sales. No publicity. The lack of one is common and satisfactory, but absent both, the struggle of the artist is equated to failure and foolishness. Art in a self-indulgent culture supersaturated with artists of every stripe is a moving storm, sinking some of us into oblivion, catapaulting others into the fantasy constructs of stardom and a handsome paycheck; others will drop out for considerations of contemporary living, still others will continue to claw tooth and nail at their own sensibilities, at their own candid world, and at everyone around them for just one look into the mirrored abyss where all former self-doubt is sent to perish or to bounce back upon the eye of the beholder to consume us…

Back to Bill. He poses this question.

“I’m curious. Has your opinion of my work changed since ’07? Do you find the recent work, such as the stuff in AOM this year, less interesting? BTW, this is not feigned humility in an attempt to get pats on the back. I really want honest feed-back.

Elephantidus

Detail of Bill Remington painting...

Remington, it’s like this. In 2007, AOM asked that participating artists post their top artists online. I had you NUMBER ONE on my list. Your work blew me away. I did not know you then. In fact, I specifically stated that I was limiting my picks to those artists that I did not know personally, not from Adam himself. Those stipulations did not exempt but a few, and frankly I don’t think too many of them would have made my list, anyways…

In 2008, I was crippled, walking with cane awaiting knee surgery, and while I saw most of the exhibits, I didn’t make a favorite’s list for a myriad of reasons. In fact, I think you told me you didn’t show in ’08, but perhaps I’m thinking of someone else.

But even your more abstract and expressionistic paintings wrestle me into its sphere of influence, its gnawing atmospherics, so while I admired the R.Crumb aspect of work I saw in 2007, this newer (I hazard to guess) more expressionistic painting I see here at FB is just as powerful. You definitely own your stroke, man.

Context has no bearing on the surface of your canvas. You simply own the stroke. Let it fly. It’s got wings…

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