Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, October 8, 2011
It’s not that I can’t be snobby. I take a very dim view of mass-produced light beers. My musical tastes run purposely to the unique and away from widely popular. (The new Ben Folds CD arrived yesterday, and I’m beyond thrilled.) And even at my poorest stage in life I could never bring myself to buy the store-brand toaster pasties in lieu of the opulent deliciousness of Kellogg’s PopTarts.
But when it comes to art, I have no tolerance for the snobs — you know, like art critics. The ones who, whether art world educated or self-certified, feel the need to school everybody about what is beyond our ability to understand and what is beneath contempt. (There is no middle ground.) They have come out every year for ArtPrize, but this year they came out with a vengeance. And it’s not as if they don’t have some good points — heck, even Rick DeVos admitted that there was a lot of “crazy crap” strewn about Grand Rapids. It’s the snarky, pretentious way with which they generally delivered it.
Anyway, as a supposed artist who sometimes struggles mightily with the actual art part, I guess I’m predisposed to take a punk rock view of this. Which is, if somebody feels they have something to say, then they should bang it out. If you’re passionate, it’s worth creating. It may not turn out. In fact, it likely won’t turn out, but you shouldn’t let somebody else’s certification criteria stop you. As Ben Folds says, you don’t want to have regrets:
I thought about the hours wasted
Watching TV, drinking beer
I thought about the things I thought about
Until immobilized with fear
And all the great ideas I had
And how we just made fun
Of those who had the guts to try and fail