The Art World = A Man’s World

A recent topic of study for me has been how the art world has always been and continues to be a man’s world. Mostly white men at that. I’m preparing for a very large argument I feel needs to be had, so I’m gathering my sources and increasing my knowledge base. Thought I’d amass some links and pull quotes here, where I can easily find them and other people can read them if they feel so inclined (and you probably should read them).

We find that paintings by female artists sell at a discount of 42.1 percent. So on average, a painting by a woman will sell for much less than a painting by a man.

What Adams and her colleagues find is that affluent people who visit art galleries, especially men, rate art as less compelling when it is said to be painted by a woman.

Researchers Explore Gender Disparities In The Art World

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Art by women makes up only 3-5% of the major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, even though women earn half of the Master of Fine Arts degrees granted in the U.S. In New York City’s art galleries, 88% of the American artists are white.

Since white, straight, cisgender men get to occupy museum spaces, they also get to dictate how the bodies and experiences of marginalized groups like women and people of color are represented. For instance, judging from Greek and Roman nude female sculptures, vaginas simply didn’t exist during that time period. All of these sculptures of female bodies have “genitals” that look absolutely nothing like real human vaginas; between their legs, there is simply a hairless, smooth triangle with no indication of a vulva, pubic hair, or protruding labia. On the other hand, penises are documented in great detail on the male nude sculptures.

From the 16th-19th centuries, women were denied access to the classical training needed to become esteemed artists. During this time period, studying nude models was considered “too inappropriate” for women, so female artists were forced to create only the kinds of paintings that were considered less valuable at the time like portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. History has also devalued traditionally feminine art such as quilting, embroidery, needlework, and china painting because of their “domestic” natures, yet it assigns great value to traditionally masculine forms of art like paintings and sculptures.

The other issue at the root of this problem is that the people in power who get to decide what art and artists are valuable are also predominantly white, straight, cisgender men.

Museums: It’s a White Man’s World

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The under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in executive positions is just one small symptom of an industry dominated by white, European men. Female artists are almost entirely absent from historic art collections; their work goes for much less commercially and they are still massively underrepresented in contemporary art institutions.

Art: a man’s world

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It is important to understand the impact this bias has had on the art world. These galleries, with outposts across America and Asia, are global tastemakers; championing artists, funding their work and introducing them to the world’s wealthiest collectors. It is still the case that the art that we consider to be the most valuable, in monetary but also cultural terms, is almost all by men. It is the reason that the museums in the world considered to have the greatest and strongest collections are the ones that boast works by Turner, Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Koons, Hirst and Hockney. That a female equivalent for each of these artists doesn’t roll off the tongue says it all.

How the art world airbrushed female artists from history

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Commercial galleries showing 40% female artists and state museums showing 34% female artists in 2014 tell a different story – one where commerce, history and taste are more traditional and hierarchical. The closer an artist gets to money, prestige and power the more likely they are to be male. These results are not surprising as they mirror those in almost all other areas of creative production as well as in almost all spheres of power and influence.

The Countess Report

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In the first experiment, we find that participants who are male, affluent and who visit art galleries have a lower appreciation of works they associate with female artists. In the second experiment, we find that affluent participants have a lower appreciation of works we associated with a female artist’s name, particularly when they visit art galleries. Since affluent males who visit art galleries are most likely to represent the typical bidder in an art auction, we believe the evidence is consistent with the idea that “Women’s art sells for less because it is made by women”.

An artful truth about gender bias: Lessons from the art market

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As artist and professor Joan Semmel put it: ‘…if there are no great celebrated women artists, that’s because the powers that be have not been celebrating them, but not because they are not there.’

What does it mean to be a woman in art?

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Here’s a collection of statistics and links from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, that I don’t have time to dig through right now.

And in closing, a study from Texas State University’s Journal of Research on Women and Gender: Still A Man’s World: The Gendered Experiences of Women Artists.

Probably not all the data I will need to gather, so expect more posts full of links about gender equality in the arts.

Master Debating

I don’t generally partake of presidential primaries. I haven’t “belonged” to a political party for quite a many years now, so I figure each party should just present me with the best they’ve got. I’ll then decide which flavor of evil I’m willing to vote for. I have taken part in exactly one presidential primary in my entire voting life, and that’s because I was fired up and ready to go. In 2004, after hearing Obama speak at the Democratic convention, the first words out of my mouth were “He’s going to be President someday.” I did everything I could to make that happen, and I was not unhappy with the outcome.

So for me to bother even watching the very first debates between a gigantic mob of Democratic hopefuls, is an unusual event. But I did that. Mostly. I did, in fact bail on the second debate for a while, because my god, what a cacophony of shouting. And all I can say after two nights of this is that I continue to have pretty much the same opinions about the whole clown car full of Democratic potential nominees.

Now that I have gotten through this first round of debates, I will go back to not paying too much attention to what any of them are doing or saying until after I have celebrated Christmas and New Years. It’s ridiculously early for me … or anyone, really … to have strongly held opinions on who to vote for months from now. I’m one of those people who is deciding how to vote on things weeks, and sometimes days (or even hours), before voting on them. Not because I don’t care. I care very strongly about a great many things. I don’t bother paying rapt attention because the closer you get to voting day, the more clear the history of the candidate or measure or whatever is. I know where I stand on things, and I have been unwavering in that for decades, what I need is to see the data … what candidates have been saying and doing or who has been spending money to defeat/support ballot measures.

It’s not at all that I make split second decisions. Ever. It’s that ten years ago I was contemplating potential outcomes from some scenario, and I can then apply that to whatever decision it fits with in the present. It’s how my brain works. I contemplate potential outcomes for all manner of scenarios. I see patterns in how things are moving, and I follow them to their most likely final position.

And I update my internal database all the damn time. I keep up with that’s going on. As well as all the things that have already happened, because I’m big into history. It takes a lot of time and energy to do this, so I get why not everyone does. Hell, not everyone can. I’m lucky, I worked my butt through way the hell too much education, and my life is mostly not filled with having to just survive (though sometimes, it is). Anyway, I’m done with politicians trying to convince me they are the chosen one until after January 1, 2020. Possibly later than that. I’ve run scenarios.

With that said, I have formed some very mild, lukewarm opinions of the rabble that is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The people I am mildly interested in hearing more from at some date are Warren, Harris, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, Castro, Buttigieg. In no particular order, though I suppose the order my brain thought of them might mean something. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but if I can’t even remember you right now, then you probably don’t matter much and will be eliminated long before the Texas primary, or you are one of the people I actively cannot stand and already knew I never needed to hear from again. I will refrain from stating their names, because I don’t need any hate mail.

Now on the subject of the debates themselves, I do have some thoughts. The format sucked. All it did was ask for and produce sound bites. Important thoughts cannot be compressed down into sixty (or thirty) seconds. And my god, none of the moderators moderated. There was zero control of the situation. It’s the same clown car fiasco the Republicans went through when they had ten million people running for President. It is now that I will remind everyone … that process gave us President Trump. The Republicans didn’t get the best possible Republican nominee. They got the person who could best sell themselves in sixty second sound bites and string together words in catchy slogans (with maybe some help from outside sources). If you think this can’t happen on the left side of the political spectrum you are fooling yourself. Evil and/or stupidity can exist on all points along a political line from left to right. It’s a thing I wish more people on the left would keep in mind while rooting for their team mascot, whoever that might be.

So … I’m out. All the back stabbing and mud slinging can happen without me paying attention to it. I’m sure I won’t be able to completely avoid it, unless I give up existing on the internet, but generally speaking, I’ll check back in when we’re closer to the Texas primary. It’s possible I will have less mild opinions about whoever has survived that long, and I will take part in the primary. It’s also possible I will continue to feel only mildly interested in anyone, and I’ll let other people pick the nominee, because any of them will do as well as any of them, which isn’t as sad as it sounds.

I will now watch cat videos on YouTube and cleanse my brain, before curling up in my comfy bed and having a nice long snooze. Hopefully, I will not dream of politics.

State of the Union

Sometimes, like tonight, I miss blogging. It was such a huge part of my life for so long, how could I not miss it. But every time I try to get back to it, I am reminded of the reasons I stopped. I could enumerate them, but in truth, they can be distilled down to one simple statement…

It’s hard being a woman – with opinions, beliefs, and thoughts – on the internet.

So I turned to art, and while I do enjoy expressing myself artistically, I miss using my words. I miss the connection of saying something, having other people respond, and then having a conversation about it. But blogging comes with risks, and I got tired of having to be situationally aware at all times. It’s stressful to be out and about, living your life, and having to pay attention to whether or not the latest stalker, whose actual location you haven’t back tracked yet, might be ready to run up and do … whatever.

Not that I walked around feeling scared at all times, because I’ve lived an interesting life and no longer scare easily, but that I had to be 100% aware of my environment and the people in it at all times while outside my home. Including my front yard. It required an enormous amount of mental (and physical) energy. It simply felt like the costs very much outweighed the benefits.

But … there is shit going on in my country right now that I cannot abide. I must do something. But what? While my dad was an expert at turning the political into the creative, I did not receive that gift. My art comes from a place of contentment and happiness. I have tried to break the barrier between “happy” art and “angry” art. I have been unsuccessful.

So that leaves me with words, and my words always did have a bite. It also leaves me with the risks involved with being a opinionated woman on the internet, and I don’t know that I want to take on that burden again.

With that said … allow me to rant …

America is in a downward spiral. I’d like to say I didn’t expect this, but I did. It’s not even Trump and company that concern me. They are petty criminals and idiots, which is why we know so much about their misdeeds and shenanigans. It’s who comes after. Doesn’t matter what political inclination, whoever comes after will have extraordinary presidential powers. If we allow the current President to get away with whatever he likes, as we did Bush and Obama (he also increased presidential power), the next guy or gal will at this point be able to do whatever the hell they like without any repercussions whatsoever. We’re lucky that Team Trump is stupid. The next guy or gal might not be. Imagine if all the things we know about the Trump Administration had been kept quite. Take a minute. Or two. Think about it.

But what’s occurring in my country is more urgent and cannot wait for some future president who may … or may not … have the best interests of humanity residing in his or her heart. The United States of America is abusing other human beings. Many of those human beings are children. They are being treated worse than human beings who have been incarcerated for heinous crimes, and those people are already being treated inhumanely. The United States of America is being inhumane and cruel. Also … very very Un-Christian. Haven’t I been told, over and over again, that we are a Christian nation? I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling it. What would Jesus do? Well, not what we are currently doing.

But what to do about it? What to do with my grief and outrage and horror? Words no longer work. You cannot reason someone out of a belief they have come to by irrational means. Why should I take on the risk of having an opinion on the internet, when I’m reaching no one who doesn’t already know what I am saying is true? Why risk my life to preach to the choir?

Words no longer work. The factions are set. You’re either with us or against us, no matter what side you are on. Minds are closed, and it feels like it will be impossible to teach some segments of humanity how to be humane. As a student of history, I have seen this pattern repeat, time and time again, and it leads nowhere good. Nowhere safe. Nowhere human.

So if my art is incapable of expressing it, and my words incapable of moving minds, the only thing left to me is to throw my body upon the gears. To make noise … physically. To protest. To be a thorn under the saddle of oppression. To maybe make the evening news. What course is left to me? Voting? Can I trust that what election I vote in is fair and just? No, actually, I can’t. That is how much faith I have lost in our systems.

I blame Facebook … and Twitter and YouTube. I blame modern capitalism. Whatever makes someone a buck is hunky dory, yeah? I blame my fellow Americans. I blame humanity. Humans are awful. We’re barbarians. We are not nearly as advanced as we like to think we are. I always hope that all people contain good, but I am never surprised when they don’t. Some may call me jaded or cynical, but I have spent more than a half century existing in this world. I have witnessed humanity at its finest and its worst. Humanity trends towards evil, because evil is easy.

Something must be done. My country I sliding into realms not seen since history past, and our elected officials … no matter which party … appear to be uninterested in doing anything about the fact that the very foundation of our nation is being chipped away on a daily basis. I tell myself not to care, but I do care. I care what my country is doing in my name. I care about laws. I care about truth and justice and doing what’s right. By any standard, what is happening to human beings in the United States currently is … wrong. Evil. Inhumane.

I’d hoped we could just reality tv our way through a single term of the Trump Administration, but more and more I suspect that we are in for a very long haul. Everything is falling apart much faster than I anticipated, and I see very few paths leading to a positive outcome. I feel like it’s possible this is all just something we are going to have to get through … no matter how long it takes, no matter how painful and awful, and while we are doing so, people … children, in particular, but not exclusively… are going to be dying. So I’m left with … something must be done to stop it.

So how best to throw my body upon the gears and halt our progress towards a future of inhumanity and cruelty. Something must be done, and our elected officials and our systems are doing nothing. Why? I assume because they are either complicit and compromised, or they fear losing the power they currently enjoy. Perhaps they are simply as terrified as the rest of us. No matter the reason, the outcome is bad. To do nothing while injustice happens before you is to be evil.

The other side of my personality has a different opinion. I, and a great many other people, tried to tell you this was where we were headed years ago, but no one listened. No one cared. I’m old enough to not give a damn what you people do to the world. I’ve had a good enough life, if it ended tomorrow I wouldn’t be entirely sad about it, so why should I even give a damn about the state of the world? I did the best I could when I was younger to make the world a better place, and I failed. I expected the next generation to step up, but it seems they are uninterested in doing so.

What am I to do with this rage? What am I to do with this overwhelming compulsion to do something … anything … to change the status quo of babies dying in cages separated from their loved ones? What am I to do about a president who is above the law? What am I to do about the corruption of our elected officials? What am I to do about injustice and inhumanity? Donate to organizations? Complain on Twitter?

I’m old, and I tired. I don’t have the physical wherewithal to protest for days on end. I don’t have the budget to put enough gas in my car to get to all the places where throwing one’s self upon the gears might matter. So what the hell can I do to stop my country spirally ever deeper into extremism and hatred and cruelty? My art won’t do it. My words are ineffectual in the face of willful hatred and ignorance. This is what I am currently contemplating … something must be done, and I feel like I am alone in doing it.

Why are we not in the streets? Millions of people worldwide took to the streets to express their opposition to the war in Iraq. But human rights violations are happening on our very own soil, and no one is doing anything except donating to organizations and hoping for the best. I no longer believe this will effect change. In fact, I have never actually believed that was a path to societal change. Change comes from people physically demonstrating the courage of their convictions, and I see so little of that these days.

But something must be done to stop the cruelty and horror that is happening by my country, in my country, and in MY name. But no one likes being attacked, and no one likes being uncomfortable, and no one likes being arrested. Allowing evil to happened right in front of you is easy. All you have to do is ignore it, and donate to the appropriate non-profit to make yourself feel better about it all while Tweeting about how awful it all is. Well, that’s not good enough for me. I want to do more. I just don’t know yet what “more” is exactly. What does one individual do to stop a nation from turning it evil?

I don’t know. I’m going to figure something out though, because … SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, or history will repeat itself in some new horrible way. It already is, but most people are either blind to it (willfully, or because they are too busy trying to survive) or enthusiastically applauding it. There are a great many Americans who will support fascism, so long as the people being oppressed look nothing like them, because humans are awful. We are. We’re barbarians. We fool ourselves when we pretend we are in any way enlightened.

So I can give up, or I can fight. I don’t know how to fight what seems to be impossible odds, but I’m going to have to figure out how, because if someone doesn’t … humanity, on the whole, is doomed. It’s not just the USA facing this crisis of conscious. This is happening across the planet in one form or another, at some level or another. If people don’t wake up and start throwing themselves against the gears of oppression and cruelty and evil, what hope does humanity have. Evil wins when good does nothing. So how can we continue to do nothing?

So…

Having continued problems with the Instagram plugin I use to get them posted over here. I liked using it, because it copied the photo to this server, thereby saving all my Instagram pics in one location. Alas, I can’t use stuff I have to babysit. Therefore, I’m trying something I don’t like as much which may be more reliable.

Or I guess I could get more proactive with the blog and actually do something with it everyday with my own hands and brain, but that may be asking too much. I’ve got stuff going on, and don’t tend to have enough energy to write a bunch or stop what I’m doing just to upload a photo here in addition to elsewhere. I need automation!

But, you know, maybe I get back to the blog this year. Probably not, but maybe.

Happy New Year!

Apparently, while I was busy living life and not paying much attention to online things, the plugin that’s supposed to automatically upload my Instagram posts to the old blog has been belching out bad code. It’s New Year’s, I’ve been drinking, and I’m not going to deal with it at the moment. I mean, I reset some things, so maybe it fixes itself in a couple hours. Maybe not. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What Nature Creates

Right after that big drought Texas experienced, when it started raining again, our backyard went wild, and we couldn’t keep up. The last thing I did back there was chop down the entire yard of Begger’s Lice, bag it up, and have it hauled off with the trash. Then, we decided to wait and see what happened. Would this small patch of earth return to a native state if untended and ignored, and what would that natural, wild state look like? Today was the first day in all that time I ventured further than the back door.

Up by the house, we are still having Begger’s Lice problems, but beyond that? Lush. Natural. Native. My footsteps padded by damp leaves and thick growth of Horse Herb. Each step produced the scent of rich dark earth and green life growing. New trees have sprung up organically, naturally. A variety of bushes, some I can’t identify, have taken root. As I followed a path created by the soft steps of countless cats, for a moment, the city fell silent, and I was in the wild outback of Texas on a wet December day with birds chirping and the last leaves of fall quietly murmuring in the gentle rain.

I am awestruck by what nature can create when left to its own devices, or more importantly, when we stop fighting against it in our attempts to make it behave as we would like. This grand experiment of ours is not yet done, but I pleased with its progress. More than pleased. I am delighted. And nature’s gift to us for allowing her free reign over her dominion was a harvest of unexpected pomegranates, symbols of creation, fertility, and future rebirth.

Lost Thing Found

I was awakened this morning by the irritating sound of a cat playing with something on the bedroom floor. The sound was reminiscent of a spoon clinking in an empty teacup. That is neither a sound which can be slept through nor the sound of anything a cat should be playing with, so I flopped down to the foot of the bed to peer over at the offending feline.

It was, of course, Yuki … the youngest and most irritating member of the household. She had her paws all up under the rolling rack, desperately attempting to extract something. I poked her pudgy little belly to get her attention. Naturally, this didn’t distract her at all. No, she redoubled her efforts to pull whatever she found under the rolling rack free. And then … she succeeded.

Lying on the floor, pretty as you please, was the leg belonging to my broken ceramic unicorn! The one I was certain I had accidentally thrown away!

While I am still less than thrilled about being rudely awakened from my pleasant slumber entirely too early in the day, Yuki has been awarded the distinguished honor of being Best Cat in the World.