Relief Anger Angst & 15 Things Visual Artists Can Do Now

Alternatively, or inconjunction with your current plans, you might begin to stretch to do more, new and different things that still require your artistic eye and creative verve. Here are some points to ponder, to stir your thinking:

Hello,

How are you my friends? Me? Well, I guess I'm doing fine. I woke up today to simple pleasures. The sun was shining. My spouse was enjoying a serene morning meditation. My dogs were playfully chasing each other. My bills get paid. I have job I like with promise and benefits. I am blessed.

Art Print Issues origins date back to an 8-page digital newsletter that began in November 2005. Since then, I've published more than 200 posts or articles with none espousing personal opinions (Casting aspersions on bonehead moves by tradeshow executives aside.) or political views. There are plenty of sources for that and I respect my readers don't come here to get my views on the economy or politics. There is, however, always a reason to break from tradition as this post proves, at least to me.

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In a dichotomy of mixed emotions, I feel real relief amidst the daily front page dread

As is my daily routine, I read the morning paper. Yet, something is different now. While I still acknowledge the daily dose of dread and accept much, if not most, of it is out of my immediate control, and amid the noise of war, economic woes and natural disasters, I feel a deep sense of real relief. At the same time I admit to feeling the same nagging anxiety that afflicts us all to one degree or another.

My relief is partly due to an election result that promises a new direction for our country, (In near perfect 40-year counterpoint symmetry, Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois is once again the locus foreshadowing not just a shift in political fortunes, but just as in 1968, seismic cultural changes as well.) The joyful harmony of the throng of 200,000 well wishers gathered to witness President-elect Obama's acceptance speech stands as the direct diametric opposite of the contentious civil and police riots that took place in Grant Part in 1968 during the Democratic convention.

The fractious turbulence that occurred there in 1968 signaled an era of great divisive societal upheaval and portended a momentous political conservative pendulum swing that peacefully comes to a halt in sync with the end of the Bush presidency. Just as a pendulum alters its return course not exactly following its previous path, this swing is destined not to repeat history, but to make it. We're neither looking at the New Deal nor the Great Society. Rather something altogether different with consequences just as great or greater.

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A new president offers hope – but the greater relief lies elsewhere.

Although I have high hopes for the new administration, my greater relief is in the arrival of the economic meltdown we are witnessing. It couldn't have happened too soon on one hand, but on the other it gratefully waited till new leadership was standing in the wings. It's a nightmare to think how the current administration helmed by the most unpopular president in the history of polling would have found a way to bungle handling this mess had it unraveled a few years ago. The current doling out money to banks with virtually no strings attached is a good example. There is no oversight on this. At this juncture, it is incredulous to me how those responsible for such unguarded handouts are letting this happen.

No, I'm not heartless or crazy. I'm just ready to deal with the inevitable.

You could be asking, "How can you find relief amidst so much chaos and misery? "Have you lost your mind? Are you heartless, witless or both?" The answer comes this way. It is time and none too soon. It is time for us as a nation, and as consumers to change our spendthrift ways. The havoc being wreaked upon us is from a bill far overdue. The blame for which is neither partisan nor political. It is bigger than that.

This time, overdue change can no longer be averted. We've popped the dotcom bubble, the housing and easy money bubbles and we are left with the reality of our collective actions. True enough, there are some more to blame than other and may their names live on in ignominy and shame. May their purloined riches be the ruin of them. May their greed fester into deserving deserts of despair.

The full gravity and extent of this situation is yet to come.

The simple truth is with no more rabbits to pull from hats we are going to face very difficult times ahead. This will require painful and unavoidable solutions as already noticed in daily reports of new layoffs, bankruptcies, foreclosures, stock losses and scaled back services and expectations on nearly every level.

The news will continue to get worse till the bottom is found. We are not there yet. To some extent, we don't know the bottom. It is uncharted territory and the wise ones who we would trust to predict such things failed miserably at calling the outcome we live with now. To see Alan Greenspan trying to deny knowledge of or culpability in helping cause the current situation is a sickening example of delusional hubris and unfettered unaccountability. Come on Alan. Either you're lying or incompetent. And neither of those will protect your precious legacy. Too bad the same can't be said for your comfortable retirement and  pocketbook and that of the cronies with whom you helped brew this toxic economic stew we live in now.  

We have great role models to help us gather strength and resolve to pull us through.

The Greatest Generation as they were titled in a book of the same name faced many similar challenges. They were the children of the Great Depression. How did they respond to adversity? They fought World War II at great cost personally on the front and at home. Soldiers lives were lost and shattered. At home, gas, shoes, sugar, butter and more were rationed. The country pulled together as a collective whole to help the greater cause. Can you imagine that in 2008? That generation recovered and returned home to help build the biggest best and the most mighty country in history of the world. They had learned and lived by core values from which we have strayed far. They survived some of the worst times only to help lay the groundwork for what arguably became the best of times. We have much to thank them for and to learn from them.

We have gone from the quaint notion of a chicken for every pot to a state of overconsumption where a cell phone, flat screen TV, broadband cable, bigger and bigger homes and two cars in every garage is the norm. Unfortunately, easy money has made government, corporations and consumers all act like drunks at an open bar. That is we are without a clue how or when to stop from that which was destined to do us more harm than good. We now have a massive hangover from which the effect hopefully will scare us straight.

Being relieved does not mean I'm not outraged. Believe me, I am and worried too!

Don't get me wrong. Being relieved does not make me happy about the current state of affairs. I'm down right outraged at how this could have happened; at how many supposedly smart people who had our trust were either dead wrong or too greedy or dishonest to tell the truth.

Today, our greatest threat is not abroad. It is the ticking time bomb of a debt balloon that if not brought under control soon will burst creating havoc that makes today's bad news headlines seem trivial. That's why I am relieved. I think for the first time we have a collectively begun to glimpse the enormity of the problem facing us. And, we have someone who shows the intellect, potential and vigor to take on the enormous challenge before us and him. I believe Barack Obama when he says he is not a perfect man and thus we should not expect him to be a perfect president. Nevertheless, I place my faith in him. LIke his rival, John McCain, I think he is a decent person who will do his best to do his best.

Like many Americans. I'm proud we have fulfilled our destiny in becoming a powerful nation that with a grand experiement created a constitution that was tested by civil war and finally 140 years later proved the notion all men are created equal.

I'm relieved because I believe Barack Obama has the ability to do the right thing even if it requires a complete about face on political promises. Lincoln did not run for president on a platform to free the slaves, but he came to realize it was the right thing to do. FDR did not run on the promise to grow the government and create a social security network and spend money to put people to work and break the crushing economic stifle of the Great Depression, but he did because it was the right thing to do.

Obama has yet to take office, so it is a lot to put on him. But, whether you voted for him or not, whether you trust him or not, he's our guy. My instincts tell me he has the capacity to rise to the occasion and do the right things however painful they may be. Godspeed him, America and you too.

What does all this mean to visual artists?

It means the same to nearly everyone striving to make a living. We aren't going to give up on those things we have worked hard to achieve. We will have to make some sacrifices. Discretionary income will become less available. You might be like me and take a day job with benefits. One that leaves you time to create.

Alternatively, or inconjunction with your current plans, you might begin to stretch to do more, new and different things that still require your artistic eye and creative verve. Here are some points to ponder, to stir your thinking:

  1. How else can you use your artistic creative ability besides putting paint on canvas?
  2. Can you paint frescoes in homes and offices?
  3. Can your artwork be created in to large scale wallpaper images using modern printing technology?
  4. Can you learn some digital art skills or add graphic arts skills to your repertoire?
  5. Can you teach art in schools or give private lessons?
  6. Can you arrange small box lunch plen air picnics where art lovers and artists can convene to enjoy nature and art?
  7. Can you arrange exhibitions that help raise money and awareness for causes near and dear to your heart?
  8. Can you learn Web site design?
  9. Can you find new ingenious ways to help your best galleries drive traffic to their shops?
  10. Can you learn to squeeze all the paint from the tube before open a new one, or paint over a canvas with an image not destined to bring you money?
  11. Can you sell your art as seasonal in same sizes so your work can be changed in a frame to fit the season?
  12. Can you create a media event based on your art? Do you have a theme right for the times?
  13. Have you looked at art cards, ACEOs, mini prints and mini orginals?
  14. Wyland paints whaling walls worldwide. Can you paint large scale murals in your town? Or start a collective project to get a group of artists to create one?
  15. Have you looked at forming a collective gallery? Maybe it's a temporary space you only use once a month, or once a quarter. There have to be landlords happy to bring in rent even on a limited basis.

Hopefully, these ideas will stimulate your creative marketing process to help you think about what you can be doing now that might help. A useful brainstorming idea is to list all the things you would never do. The more you add to such a list, the more likely you will find productive things you should or can be doing.

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Barney Davey

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

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