Back when SoHo was the center of the universe, I used to have a buddy who constantly complained about the art world numbers. "Women are getting all the shows," he'd whine, after one exhibition got a couple of reviews. Or, "Artists of color are getting all the attention," when one African-American or Hispanic artist (usually male) would rise to prominence. And yet, when we visited exhibitions together, the numbers remained overwhelmingly in favor of men like himself--what Robert Hughes described sarcastically as "the pale penis people."
Thanks to the efforts of people like Marcia Tucker, Thelma Golden, Judy Chicago, the Guerrilla Girls, and every thinking artist's favorite pale penis person, Jerry Saltz, some things have changed. But not fast enough or big enough for a culture whose residents--that would be us--are supposed to be thinking outside the box. While there's no denying that making a career is difficult for most artists, it's harder still for artists who are not white, male and young. In this post I'd like to hear from you--whoever you are, and however you identify.
And guys, I'm not picking on you. Many of you have your own isms and phobias to deal with.
So here's my Marketing Mondays question today: Do you feel that isms and phobias have made your career progress more difficult? I also have a few specific questions, which you're welcome to pick and choose from--or add to, or disregard.
. Men: Do you make the most of your defacto entitlement to open the doors to others once you're in? As you've matured have you found ageism to be an issue?
. Women: Do you prop the doors open once you're in? Younger women, do you acknowledge that one, maybe two, generations of women artists before you battered those doors so you could walk through somewhat more easily? As you've matured how has ageism added to the load?
. Artists of color and ethnicity: Not that it's to easy to disentangle sexism or ageism or homophobia or xenophobia from racism, but is there a way to quantify which ism has been the most blatant? Has it shifted over the course of your career?
. Lesbian and gay artists: is homophobia a career issue for you? Or are the other isms a bigger issue?
. Curators, dealers and critics: Is it "all about the art" or do you consciously try for inclusivity in your exhibitions and reviews--thereby stretching the definition of what art is, in fact, all about? And have you found your sex or ethnicity or age an issue in your own career?
. Educators: There are more female students in art school, yet more male artists go on to achieve prominence in the art world. Who gets the prizes? The encouragement? The mentoring? Do you address the issue of sexism with your students?
. Students, especially female students: Do you think sexism is no longer an issue?
Update: Link to The Art Newspaper: America is Changing--But Are its Art Museums? The gist of the article: "You do not have to look at major US art museums for long to realise that most of the senior management is white." Says Johnnetta Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution: "There is a moral imperitive for making a workforce diverse.” Read more. . .