ART FOR ALL PEOPLE
One day, my artist friend Matthew Beall and I were on the New York City subway bound for some art destination. I'm sure that much to Matt's boredom, I was almost obsessed by my latest project.
I told Matt that I felt that I needed to come up with some sort of motto that would quickly sum up the mission of ArtBookGuy and my activities as a contemporary art aficionado. Somewhere in my development as an art collector, I had become determined to teach other people about the endless rewards of breathing, eating and living art.
"What about 'Art For Everyone'"? I asked Matt as the train screeched and hissed its way to the next stop. "No, too plain," Matt replied.
"How about 'Art For the Masses'"? I asked. "No, that sounds like a Socialism thing," said Matt.
"Hmm," I thought. I needed to create a slogan that would help people understand what I had learned ... that art is accessible, affordable and absorbable. Is "absorbable" a word? Hmm.
Anyway, I had adopted the mission to spread art appreciation by introducing people to the thousands of living, emerging artists who create brilliant work every single day. But how could I communicate this concept?
"Hey, how about ... 'Art For All People'"? I asked, knowing that I had struck oil.
"That sounds good," Matt said.
My motto was born. It's direct, simple and classic yet modern. "Art For All People" is super self-explanatory. It pulls no punches, cuts the bull and gets to the heart of the matter. It quickly says that art museums and galleries exist for everyday people ... it explains that people, much to their surprise, can often afford to buy the work of living artists ... and it shows that if we invite art into our lives, it'll feed our own creativity and enrich our lives beyond measure even if you barely have a pot to piss in.
With that, I knew that I had to get my motto registered as a federal trademark. When you come up with great ideas, you must protect them ... or at least lay official claim to them.
Now today ... March 25, 2011, many months later, it's a reality. "Art For All People" is officially a registered trademark. I just got the certificate in the mail. That means I own it and I can legally use the ® symbol after the phrase. It's my second federal trademark, the first being the subtitle of my books, "A Collector's Journal." My books are my brand and so is my campaign for art.
I can now move forward, confident in my own mission to help unsung artists and people afraid of the art world. Will "Art For All People" save the world? No, but rest assured, I'll do my best to use it to make a positive impact on the lives of people who are intimidated by art as well as those who create art in quiet desperation while hanging onto the very last threads of their treasured dreams.
I'd say it's a worthy cause, wouldn't you? Yes, art is indeed for the multi-billionaire industrialist who collects in his spare time and yes, art is for the ladies who lunch at The Four Seasons. However, art is also for the letter carrier who schleps from house to house delivering peoples' mail ... art is for the "at risk" inner-city kid walking the line between detention and deliverance ... art is for the doctor treating patient after patient within the dreary confines of her bare office walls ... art is for the budget-slashing governor taking dead aim at after-school programs ... art is for the Japanese boy devastated by earthquakes and now reeling from radioactivity ... art is for the New Zealand girl whose home is now a pile of rubble ... art is for the British old man who sits in the silence of his studio painting masterpieces yet undiscovered ... art is for the Somali pirates with little hope or resources and in need of better options ... art is for the Peruvian mother of three who sells flowers at the side of the road and dreams of a better life ... art is for the Eskimo who goes spear fishing in search of dinner ... art is for the sun seekers bathing nude in Miami Beach ... art is for the minister preparing a Sunday morning sermon ... art is for the homeless dude sleeping in Grand Central Station ... art is for everyone, everybody, everywhere. Art is for rich, poor, black, white, young, old, male and female. Art is for all cultures, circumstances and seasons. Like love, it's what the world needs now. No, not just for some ... but for everyone.
So, let's get this party started, shall we?
Art For All People ... better yet ... Art For All People®.
The title really gets to the heart of the matter. I am an "Everyday Joe," I write for the "Everyday Joe" and art is FOR the "Everyday Joe."
That's why my new book is called, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal." Before you think I'm some huckster JUST trying to hawk a book,
please hear me out.
Unfortunately, some people in the art world make things more complicated than they need to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT talking about "dumbing
down" art. Art is expressive, multidimensional and often quite profound, but shouldn't people be free to see and feel whatever moves them? Shouldn't we
be able to break down the most complex work to its most basic, essential concepts?
Not too long ago, an art dealer told me that many people in the art world like to keep art shrouded in mystery ... held high on a mountaintop. Art is lofty and high-minded, but there's a big difference between profundity and pretense. We've done the snobbery thing for so long. Aren't we bored stiff with that?
Let's make art TRULY accessible for people. If we do this, we'll spark excitement and set off a renaissance. Let's talk about it, let's open our doors, let's be nice to people who know nothing about art. Every single person is an opportunity to expand the reach of contemporary art. If you really think about it, this is more than just "pie in the sky." This is down to earth practicality. If the "Everyday Joe" thinks that art is actually available and affordable, they'll buy it ... and YOU (artists, dealers, etc.) get to eat tonight. Plain and simple. We don't need to complicate this.
I wrote "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal" because I own SO MANY illustrated art books, none of which really speak to the everyday person. They're all academic, clinical examinations of art that seem to be written for a small circle of art historians and curators. I love these books because I love art, but I've come to realize that even art can be too, "Inside Baseball." Pardon the sports metaphor.
People want art, they need art, they crave art, but I think many don't even realize it. Art hasn't been made available to them because some artists, curators, dealers, writers, professors and administrators believe that art should be kept on high. Therefore, people are intimidated by it. However, the reality is that art is EVERYWHERE. It's all around us. We're living here on earth, the greatest masterpiece of all (which we're destroying unfortunately). As art people, it's our privilege and responsibility to introduce people to the long lost love they never met. Art. Yes, art for the people.
While we talk politics, appeasing people and presidential campaigns, let's get art on the agenda. Never has the art community had such an opportunity to put art in the spotlight, but where is everyone? Art needs support.
I wrote "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal" because I'm an avid art collector who MUST write and talk about art. I MUST share my experiences. I want to bridge the gap between a person's first experience with art and their first art purchase. Art is almost as broad as life itself. Because art is so far-reaching, I LOVE writing about art and applying it to the things of everyday life. Art is a slice of life ... or is life a slice of art? I don't know. What I do know is that if you give people art, you give them a shot at royalty. Suddenly, a hum-drum existence becomes enlightened and illuminated ... black and white becomes technicolor and high-brow joins low-brow and creates dialogue rather than farts in your face. We can raise the dialogue but we can keep it real too.
Art is MUCH MORE than just a painting on a wall or a sculpture on a table. It's an experience, a daily reality. It's the real deal. That's why I visit art museums and fairs and galleries. That's why I love talking with and meeting artists and dealers and people throughout the art world ... all over the world. Art is powerful. Art people are powerful. Unfortunately, I don't think their true power has been realized. Let's take art to the people ... the masses. Let's not be snobbish about this. We've done that to death.
Art is for the "Everyday Joe." Yes, I do want to sell books. I don't apologize for that, but more importantly, I want to help our struggling artists. I want people to know about the transforming power of art and the role that it plays in their lives and the world. I want people to catch this benevolent disease for the benefit of us all. It's a win-win proposition. No, I'm not running for office, but if I were, you can bet your ass that the concerns of everyday people ... and art would be front and center.
Why Collector's Journals?
Hi! Me again.
I wanted to take a moment to briefly chat with you about the premise behind my books. First off, let me just say that my new book is called, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal." I'm so proud of this book because I really think that it captures what contemporary art is all about ... well, for me anyway. Check it out. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Anyway, my first book is called, "Art In King Size Beds: A Collector's Journal." I always address the meaning of the main titles inside the book so you'll have to get them to find out more. However, I wanted to explain here the thought behind the subtitle, "A Collector's Journal." It's fairly self-explanatory, but I'll shed some more light.
I think that art is more than just a painting that you hang on a wall or a sculpture that sits on an elegant table. In my book(s), art isn't just a commodity or a thing or a noun ... art is actually a verb. The true role of art is what it DOES ... not what it is. Art has shaped and informed my life in so many ways. I think that art works in YOUR life in ways that you may not even realize. Art and life are hopelessly entwined. Given that, I want to really capture the true function of art through my own true, down to earth experience ... hence the subtitle, "A Collector's Journal." My books are art memoirs ... they're journals! Plain and simple. The subtitle will remain the same. In essence, I've created a brand name, if you will. Hopefully, through my experience, you'll feel free to forge your own personal relationship with art and bring creativity and artistry into your own life.
More than anything, I want to remove the intimidation and fear that everyday people have where art is concerned. So many people in the art world want to keep art shrouded in mystery. That's silly. Art is created by the common man for the common man. Let's get real! I'll never forget the telephone conversation that I had with a woman around the time that my first book was due to be released. I was telling her about "Art In King Size Beds" and she said, "That sounds great because I will NOT walk into an art gallery!" She told me that she was too intimidated by the prospect. She felt that she would be ridiculed for her lack of knowledge about art. That's unfortunate because educating the public is one of the functions of any good art gallery. Don't get me wrong, I love art galleries and I'm not necessarily blaming them, but I think all art institutions need to work harder at making visitors feel comfortable. There's a thin line between respect and intimidation. If people feel comfortable, they'll come back and perhaps they'll make a purchase one day. I'm hoping that my books will help everyone.
Oh, another thing. I love nearly all genres of art and the way art moves through the world. Because of that, I write about art in MY world ... I write about the ART world and I write about art and how it functions in the WORLD at large. My books will always explore those three basic themes.
Also, my books are basically compilations ... essays with complementary (and complimentary) illustrations of art from my own collection. We photograph and re-print the art with the written, happy consent of the artists. The essays are slices of life; they're sometimes funny, serious, insightful, happy ... whatever my day brings. However, most of all, my books take the things of everyday life and apply them to art ... or do I take the things of art and apply them to everyday life? Hmm. You decide. Either way, they're collector's journals ... art and life hopelessly entwined.
Who Is Michael K. Corbin?
I thought you might be wondering, so here's the deal in a nutshell. I'm a full-time journalist and New York City native who loves art. I didn't actually begin collecting art or writing about it until several years ago.
As a New York City school kid (I now live in the Midwest), I remember seemingly always going on these field trips. You know, places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, etc. What can be more inspiring for a second-grader? Of course, I didn't fully realize the significance of basking in the presence of Picassos or Kandinskys, but I remember being inspired nonetheless. Looking back, I realize that it really was the beginning of dreams for me. It was the infancy of envisioning life as you'd like it to be. I wasn't a rich kid, but art made me wealthy.
Anyway, I got older and somehow my childish affair (is that redundant?) with art ended. Funny thing though. I continued to visit museums, galleries and art fairs. Art was still inside of me. On trips, I always felt this urge to take notes and write about my experiences, but I never did because I'm not an art critic, curator or scholar. I figured, "What's the point?" Even when I lived in Richmond, Virginia and served on the board of an art group, it never occurred to me that I could become a collector let alone write about art. Like many people, I thought you had to be "rich" and "snobbish."
Then one day, I bought an original painting from a living artist from some art website. Shortly after the painting was delivered, I remember hanging it and feeling this overwhelming sense of satisfaction and yes, creativity. That one single painting had given true birth to my childhood dream. I was hooked. I also couldn't believe how AFFORDABLE ART WAS!
As I continued to collect and meet artists, I kept hearing the same stories of struggle and despair. Artists just want to live full, independent lives doing what they were born to do. Unfortunately, reality not to mention lack of awareness about the accessibility of contemporary art make things very difficult for living artists. So many factors conspire to reinforce the notion that art isn't available to everyday people.
So, here I was, itching to write about art, but fearful about it ... at the same time, I was collecting art and meeting striving artists and feeling like I needed to do something. But what? Then ... BAM! "Screw it!" I said. "I'll just start writing!"
I went on art trips and wrote. I spoke with artists and wrote. I bought paintings and wrote. Writing and art became a tidal wave. The beast (so to speak) had been unleashed! I kept writing and submitting blogs/essays to websites where the responses were pretty good. Then, artists started saying, "Mike, you should write a book!" Little did they know ... little did I know ... I was sitting on the book, "Art In King Size Beds: A Collector's Journal." My new book is called, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal."
For years to come, I'm devoting my free time to creating these illustrated books, using my collection and writing. I want to help emerging artists, create more art collectors and expand the audience for contemporary art. I want to help spark a renaissance and use art to inform humanity. Writing about art in a fun and insightful, yet non-academic way has become my passion. In a nutshell, that's it.
In short, dude or dudette, here's the true deal. If you've lost touch with your dreams, delve back into your childhood, pluck them out, dust them off, summon your courage and get busy. It's never too late. Your dreams are YOUR contribution to this world. It's not like you get to come back and live this life over again. THIS IS IT!
SUPPORT LIVING ARTISTS!