Publisher's Letter: 2020
By GINNY VAN ALYEA
The caption for the photo shown above reads, “Ginny made a fool of herself in the art gallery by admiring the fire alarm.”
A friend gave it to me as a custom birthday card several years ago, and I have it framed and hanging in my office, mostly because it makes me laugh, but also because it’s a reminder that the art world can seem so intimidating to some people that they never fully explore it. For more than 35 years CGN’s mission has been to poke holes in that very perception. Art is about looking, which is why CGN truly wants readers to know that they are always invited to view art and to ask questions about it, and they are encouraged to seek out those who make art as well as champion it.
There are currently many situations in our society where people worry about being perceived the wrong way or that what they think may be unpopular. As far as art is concerned, the enigmatic market influences of money, taste, and access can, understandably, lead people to assume that eye-popping auction prices or art fair name dropping mean that the average person could make a fool of himself if they don’t have the right knowledge or connections.
I’ve been part of this community since 2002, and I’m honestly still figuring it out. Plenty of things, places and people continue to intimidate me, but I am committed to continually learning about what I like and don’t like as well as what’s current, even when it makes me feel uncomfortable or awkward. Ultimately, my experience, beyond market headlines and in the real world, is among a community of earnest and welcoming artists, dealers and collectors eager to connect through art, regardless of how it is personally interpreted. I’ve become more confident that it doesn’t matter so much what I think, relative to the prevailing consensus, but it matters that I observe and participate, and that I don’t hide out. I don’t even have to wear all black!
The Art Institute of Chicago’s fall 2019 exhibition spanning decades of Andy Warhol’s career demonstrated that artists often see things before others, and we can be the beneficiaries of knowledge offered through their vision. Warhol elevated the mundane to art. He also knew that what you see matters as much as being seen.
We live in an intensely visual culture. Nearly everyone today has the tools to create and share their own images, while messages are relayed more rapidly and subject to the collective culture of ‘likes.’ It’s important to see art in person and for yourself – whether in a gallery, museum, or sculpture park – in order to take a break from the content bombardment and to participate in a deeper visual conversation.
This is the fourth edition of our CGN Arts Guide, a 164 page invitation to go see art for yourself all year long, from Andy Warhol, to the artist who isn’t a household name yet.
Maybe admiring that fire alarm – whatever form it takes – means I am not a fool, I am just slowing down to notice something in an every day detail. After all, everyone is a work in progress.