Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Art Bloodbath - Art vs. Art - Fountain Square Theatre - May 12, 2004

Art bloodbath
Visual Arts
By Mary Lee Pappas

* Pictured: Mike Wiltrout was MC at Art vs. Art.


The third Art. vs. Art took place May 7 at the Fountain Square Theatre. This rambunctious art brawl and study in social politics was presented by the arts not-for-profit Primary Colours and their pals at Groove Truck Productions.
The event was a $1,000 winner-take-all competition in the form of head-to-head bouts between paintings. The winning works, determined by a decibel reader measuring audience cheers, went on to the next round while the loser’s fate was determined by a spin on the “Wheel of Death.” Death could be avoided by purchase.

Sixty-four artists participated, executing their paintings with identical materials supplied by Prizm Art Supplies. Sixteen top paintings, selected by audience ballot, went on to face off in front of a crowd of 300 spectators.

Nikki Sutton, an interior designer with Axis Architecture, commended the event while filling her three-choice ballot, saying, “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable interacting with art … but this little ballot makes someone decide. I see a lot of people I haven’t seen at any of the Murphy open houses. At the Murphy, things are all about having a cocktail and not interacting with it. Some people may have some hangups about judging what’s good art, what’s not good art. I don’t think this is what this is about. This is about people feeling comfortable expressing opinions about art where normally they would just keep it to themselves because they’re intimidated by it.”

Nikki chose one painting twice on her ballot for lack of quality options.

Artur Silva, an artist represented at Editions Limited, chose not to participate because, “I just don’t want my work to be chopped up. I don’t understand the validity of it.” He added that if anyone were to destroy his work it would be him. “I’ve lost my hope in democracy — it’s lost its value.”

“Are you ready to fuck up some paintings people?” MC Mike Wiltrout — of local bands Leisure Kings and Mr. Sparkle — asked the audience, which enthusiastically cheered and blew their party favor horns. The Arts Council’s Dave Lawrence and Brian Payne, president of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, were among the groundlings. “This is an evening of art, music … and most of all destruction,” Wiltrout said with more bravado. “You’re a cruel, bloodthirsty lot of people. Let the bloodbath begin!”

The event was basically postmodern art 101: First destroy art for the sake of art, shock the audience, but still vie for their applause and support. It’s an old idea and not always a bad one if you’re “making art available to everybody,” as Wiltrout said of the Primary Colours mission.

Filmmaker David Yosha said, “It’s not that the pieces are profound. It’s great theater and people are getting involved. I’m surprised there aren’t more people bidding on the art.”

And just then Mark Haesler, manager of Raleigh Limited, came running by excitedly explaining, “I had to save a painting. It was too good!”



Letters to the editor regarding Art vs. Art review published May 19, 2004

Letter #1
Issues with coverage

As a sponsor of the Art vs. Art at the Fountain Square Theatre on May 7, I am happy to see the local media sponsorship and coverage. However, as is often the case with her writing, I found Mary Lee Pappas’ article to be catty and unbalanced (Culture Vulture, May 12-19). This is fine for a society or fashion column, but it undermines the credibility of NUVO’s visual arts coverage and hurts our city’s growing cultural standing. So I’d like to offer a few Journalism 101 suggestions.

First of all, use actual facts. For instance, attendance for this event was closer to 600 and participation was 75 individuals, not the 300 and 64, respectively, reported.* Also, this event was not just for artists. Many first-time painters joined in the fun, and more than a dozen serious artists (apparently willing to forgo taking themselves too seriously) came from Louisville, Dayton, Chicago and other regional locales.

Second, obtain facts from those who know them. Building positive relationships with reliable sources is often good for news or feature content. Any one of the 10 organizers not interviewed for the article would happily offer accurate information about this grander-scale Art vs. Art.

Third, when covering an event, actually cover it. Quote the people who participate. In this case, it would be nice to know why dozens of people were willing to spend four hours creating a painting with the risk of it being destroyed on stage. Quotes from a friend of the writer who did not participate due to philosophical issues (why was he there, then?) are suspect as a writer’s device, not substance for an article about the subject.

Fourth, use the word “fuck” only where appropriate, if at all. The usage of the MC’s quote was a sardonic commentary of the writer. It did nothing to capture the true flavor of the night, and was a shameful, transparent attempt to put important community leaders mentioned in the paragraph in an awkward context.

Finally, when it comes to covering the visual arts, please send reporters without burned bridges within the community, without personal vendettas and without a narrow understanding of the subject. It does nothing for NUVO’s integrity, and it is embarrassing to our entire art scene as we host a growing number of knowledgeable guests from other cities, such as the artists currently featured in the new iMOCA (Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art).

I doubt I will be alone as I continue to support Art vs. Art in its evolution into something potentially relevant to the emerging Post-Post Modern world. It’s 2004, and positive change for the visual arts is afoot in Indianapolis. I hope that NUVO will be a part of it.

Alan Schoff
Mansuzak/Schoff, Inc.
Innovative Advertising & Other Stuff

* Jeff Martin of Primary Colours was called regarding attendance details, but didn't return the call until the piece had gone to print many days later.


Letter #2
Correcting some errors

We at Primary Colours would like to thank NUVO for their sponsorship and Mary Lee Pappas for her review of Art vs. Art. Upon reading Ms. Pappas’ journalistic offering, we felt compelled to inform you of a couple of facts and correct some errors. Seventy-five (not 64) artists participated in the event which took place before a crowd of 600-plus (not 300). Also, she misquoted our mission statement, which in its entirety reads “Primary Colours is a non-profit organization devoted to integrating visual artists and the community to create and sustain a thriving environment for the arts.”

We would also like to take this opportunity to respond to a rather negative letter from Patrick Mack, full-time metal sculptor. The official rules for Art vs. Art have been posted on our Web site for over three months. Perhaps, Pat, you read them when you registered online. Well, if not, then you surely read the rules before you signed a copy of them when you checked in and received the provided materials. The “wonton destruction and mayhem” you refer to should have come at no surprise. If you didn’t agree with what the possibilities were, then perhaps you shouldn’t have participated. Anyway, you looked like you were having a pretty good time on our video footage.

You wrote, “How great it would be if Primary Colours took this energy and enthusiasm to create and display paintings through a similar venue.” “One where the art isn’t destroyed” and “The public would have more time to absorb and decide to purchase the work.” We have done that, it’s called Allotropy, and we have done it six times: generating over $50,000 for the local arts community. And if our memories serve us, you had hesitation about that event, too.

This event was meant to be something different from the average art exhibition. An event that the audience didn’t just go see, but an event that they took part in. Art doesn’t have to be so pretentious and self-important. It can be fun and entertaining as well. If this event caught the attention and attendance of people who wouldn’t normally attend art functions, great. Maybe they had a good time and will attend future, more conventional exhibits. To say that this event “turns back the clock on our future as artists in this city” is absurd. One event, no matter what you might think of it, will not be able to do that. Over the last five years, Primary Colours has done nothing but good things for the Indianapolis Arts Community. Whether it be through Allotropy, the Primary Gallery, the annual TOYS exhibit or Art vs. Art, we are always promoting visual artists and exposing new audiences to their work. We have done all of this on a volunteer basis, we do not get paid. We do it for the love of art and to make where we live a better place.

We ask you, Pat, what events or programs have you developed to advance the local arts community? None that we are aware of. Perhaps you should redirect energies used to tear down unique and innovative art events and create something yourself.

Jeff Martin, Fred Shields, Dane Sauer, Jim Clinger, Robert Evans, Larry Endicott
Primary Colours

***********

Art vs. Art
Issues with coverage

As a sponsor of the Art vs. Art at the Fountain Square Theatre on May 7, I am happy to see the local media sponsorship and coverage. However, as is often the case with her writing, I found Mary Lee Pappas’ article to be catty and unbalanced (Culture Vulture, May 12-19). This is fine for a society or fashion column, but it undermines the credibility of NUVO’s visual arts coverage and hurts our city’s growing cultural standing. So I’d like to offer a few Journalism 101 suggestions.

“When covering an event, actually cover it. Quote the people who participate. In this case, it would be nice to know why dozens of people were willing to spend four hours creating a painting with the risk of it being destroyed on stage.” —Alan Schoff

First of all, use actual facts. For instance, attendance for this event was closer to 600 and participation was 75 individuals, not the 300 and 64, respectively, reported. Also, this event was not just for artists. Many first-time painters joined in the fun, and more than a dozen serious artists (apparently willing to forgo taking themselves too seriously) came from Louisville, Dayton, Chicago and other regional locales.

Second, obtain facts from those who know them. Building positive relationships with reliable sources is often good for news or feature content. Any one of the 10 organizers not interviewed for the article would happily offer accurate information about this grander-scale Art vs. Art.

Third, when covering an event, actually cover it. Quote the people who participate. In this case, it would be nice to know why dozens of people were willing to spend four hours creating a painting with the risk of it being destroyed on stage. Quotes from a friend of the writer who did not participate due to philosophical issues (why was he there, then?) are suspect as a writer’s device, not substance for an article about the subject.

Fourth, use the word “fuck” only where appropriate, if at all. The usage of the MC’s quote was a sardonic commentary of the writer. It did nothing to capture the true flavor of the night, and was a shameful, transparent attempt to put important community leaders mentioned in the paragraph in an awkward context.

Finally, when it comes to covering the visual arts, please send reporters without burned bridges within the community, without personal vendettas and without a narrow understanding of the subject. It does nothing for NUVO’s integrity, and it is embarrassing to our entire art scene as we host a growing number of knowledgeable guests from other cities, such as the artists currently featured in the new iMOCA (Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art).

I doubt I will be alone as I continue to support Art vs. Art in its evolution into something potentially relevant to the emerging Post-Post Modern world. It’s 2004, and positive change for the visual arts is afoot in Indianapolis. I hope that NUVO will be a part of it.

Alan Schoff
Mansuzak/Schoff, Inc.
Innovative Advertising & Other Stuff

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show the the PC people aren't that bright because the review is critically favorable and portrays the event accurately. They just look like they have a grudge against Mary Lee and were digging to "I'll show her." Having been at the show "fuck" was used frequently - big deal. It was part of the personality of the event. Why act like such prudes when they're "performing" destruction with a beer guzzling audience? I had tons of fun there and MLP could have been far more brutal if she truly wanted to assault their artistic vision. Still it was fun. I want more! PC needs to get over themselves and live with this intelligent review. They're lucky they got press at all. Luckier still that they got a review from ML.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/7TVJhsg8MXM