Saturday, May 07, 2005

Don't Vote Euclid: Outsource Instead

This is a respose to Euclid. If you are not Euclid and are tired of me droaning on about the Arts just click over to Cincinnatus or Charles K. for something more to the Canaanite taste. (No offence to these fine folks intended.)

Great name, by the way. Are you familiar with the painting by Raphael located in the Papal apartments entitled "The School of Athens?" In it, he portrays Socrates as Leonardo da Vinci, but in a grouping of figures in the upper right, he portrays himself in a self portrait as Euclid. So you are in good company.

RE: Which of our mayoral candidates is thinking about art in terms of Santa Fe-like?
None of them are!

Julian sees Art solely in political terms. He views its relevance through the prism of Chicano Art. In the 70's this movement arose as a means of expressing minority resistance to what was believed to be the tyranny of majority culture and its exclusion of minority voices. Unfortunately, this movement was mostly ignored by the New York-based mainstream Art establishment because it focused on the visual narrative and frequently dealt with religious themes. This made it out of step with the Modernist and Pop markets. Besides, the New York scene already had a minority of choice, namely the Queer Art movement, with its highly charged homoerotic imagery. The innately controversial nature of so-called Queer Art's subject matter makes it shocking, and as everybody knows, shock sells. So Chicano Art remained mostly in the barrio preaching to its choir.

Since most Art collectors are wealthy Anglos, Chicano artists have had some difficulty selling their works on the open market. Hence they have tended to focus on murals and Public Art projects for funding. This is where Julian comes in. He sees the role of the public sector as one in which municipal funds are provided to create public works that advocate a particular political point of view. Chicano artists tend to have some pull in their community, so appeasing them is a necessary act for any politician seeking the Chicano vote as his base. But even in this context, Julian's approach is token and self-serving. He would provide some public funds to directly subsidize the livelihoods of a small portion of his constituency. He has no real appreciation of the role of the Arts in general in the community at large, but sees its function only in a parochial context. That this irritates los gringos, is just an added bonus.

I was involved in the production of two of the most significant Chicano Art Exhibitions ever mounted, Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation and the recent exhibit of the works in the collection of Cheech Marin. While I personally have a great appreciation for many of the works produced by Chicano artists, to expect that wealthy Anglo Art collectors are going to be flocking to San Antonio to acquire Chicano masterpieces seems unrealistic. I for one, think this is a greater loss to the Art collectors and museums than to the local Chicano artists. One day the locals will sell their paintings and the Anglo collecting and exhibiting world will come to regret its lack of forsight. Hence Julian's approach is at best insufficient as a means to turning San Antonio into the Santa Fe of Texas. At worst, it represents pandering to ethnic animosity at tax payer's expense.

Phil Hardberger views the Arts as cultural desert. A nice way to top off a day of spending millions on pouring concrete, but ultimately an expendable commodity that represents an unessential economic dietary indulgence. He doesn't know the difference between Chicano Art and Santa Fe style, and unless he is decorating a new country house, he doesn't care. He falls into the "finger-painting is cute when children do it" crowd. As a trial lawyer it takes big money numbers to get his attention and as such, the numbers presented for the Arts don't make his radar. The funds generally proposed amount to pissing in the budgetary ocean. He thinks that resisting such trivial spending is in bad taste and unnecessarily isolates him from potentially encroaching on Julian's base. He would probably not object to throwing a few bucks out there for the occasional Chicano barrio mural as long as he doesn't have to drive by it everyday. As far as a vision for San Antonio as a Cultural Capital of the Southwest, don't look to Phil. If he gets a jones on for culture, he will fly his tax abated jet to a real Cultural Capital somewhere else.

Carroll Schubert is just a philistine. To Carroll, Art is something that concerns queers and Chicanos only. Since he doesn't like either of these groups and they don't vote for him, his attitude is F#%* them. That Western Civilization was built on cathedrals and the Renaissance escapes him entirely. He will not allow one thin dime to be "wasted" on what is to him, at best a capricious indulgence, and at worst a means of subsidizing the undermining of his right-wing political base's ideology. His shadow never darkens the doorway of a museum, so the only thing he knows about the Arts is what the queers and Chicanos tell him, and he doesn't like what he hears. Schubert can be counted on to denounce any investment in the Arts as wasteful, despite the fact that like Hardberger, wasting money by the millions on lining the pockets of developers bothers him not one bit.

Even the cultural elites who sit on Boards of Trustees and various Art Councils around town view this as a hobby. Almost none of these people have a vision of San Antonio as a Cultural Capital. This would put the focus on the Art instead of on them. That would be viewed as counterproductive to their real agendas, namely upward social mobility in their petty little country club worlds. "Civic pride" to these people means having the tailor let out your Cavalier uniform for Fiesta. Unfortunately the outlook for the development of San Antonio as an Art Mecca is bleak at best. At worst, any such endeavor would be actively fought by almost all of the interested parties.

When it comes to the Arts in San Antonio, in essence we're screwed by the bunch of Art-loathing, no-talent, ignorant, dim witted, visionless, unimaginative, parochial, backward, condescending, inept, incompetent, illiterate, bibliophobic, inbred, arrogant, corrupt, miserly, moronic, tasteless, greedy, petty, vain, egomaniacal, misanthropic, mean-spirited, sociopathic, self-dealing, self-serving, self-enriching, self-obsessed, self-deluded, social climbing, glory mongering, peasant stomping, concrete pouring, pencil-d#*k philistines who rule my home town.

Maybe we should just outsource our local government to the folks who run Muleshoe, Texas. At least this would be a step down the road to upward cultural mobility. We might even get fiscal responsibility and clean water to boot.

Sorry if this was more than you wanted to know, but as you can tell, this is my hobbyhorse. When someone puts a nickel in my ear on this subject, I tend to go off like a pachinko machine


At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What drugs are you taking to talk about how any of the candidates stands on arts? Did you even go to the cultural arts debate? I did and there was no talk about chicano art or queer-only art. I happen to know all three candidates appreciate art events throughout SA. Phil and Carroll have been known to go to several art exhibits at galleries and museums throughout SA and in other cities. Julian is a supporter of esperanza and other such arts groups. before you talk about something and label people, check your facts. You truly don't know crap about this issue and these candidates.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Marcus Tullius Cicero said...

If you’re going to proceed to lecture me on the Arts in San Antonio, you’re the one that’s into the Brown Acid! First the Queer Art thread was a reference to New York in the 90’s, not some chicken shit little debate full of SA wannabe posers who join groups in lieu of having talent. If you were there, you can consider yourself among these. Regarding Chicano Art: this was not a reference to your little circle jerk with Poochie from Salsa Net the other night either. It was my speculation on what goes on in Julians cynical little mind. Of course I’m not clairvoyant and I could be wrong, but I’ll eat my hat if I am. And to prove I’m wrong is going to take more than the peevish ranting of some sanctimonious little piece of hanger on Art Trash like yourself. That politicians occasionally show up and pose with the Hoi Paloi at so called Art openings does not surprise me, nor does it make them connoisseurs any more than any of the other wine swilling cheese heads who regularly attend such events, ignore the Art and discuss their lumbago. I have regrettably attended literally hundreds of such events in the last dozen years and I can assure you, presence at one does not constitute evidence of enlightenment. I can also assure you I’ve never seen Phil, Julian or Carroll at any of them. That Julian hangs out with Esperanza, well that just proves my point. So if you want to talk about who doesn’t know crap, I suggest you make yourself a turd sandwich and go eat it in front of a mirror.


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