I won the Yankee Candle Company pumpkin-carving contest in 1989. I was in grad school. It was a break from deconstructing the political subtext of my "real" work. I had fun, selecting a specially bloated spherical pumpkin, then carving a leering face with intricate cabalistic scrollwork derived from Maori tattooing (see the value of education?). I was proud of my artistic skills and I wanted to show off.
I’m not sure this is it.
The show gathered hundreds of entries from the hills and woods of western Massachusetts, where the scented-candle-in-a-jar empire had its sole outlet way back then. There were a lot of categories and a lot of prizes. As the October evening fell, we lit them up and the judging began.
Red Bull Art of Can is just like that, but with a PhD in marketing (Piled Higher and Deeper). I’ve been assigned as Glasstire’s hatchet man, to make the obligatory offended noises on behalf of the "high" artworld at the crass commercialism and transparent corporate agenda behind the vastly hyped Art of Can event. It’s easy work.
The website and press information is generously slathered with the treacly, relentless goo of corporate PR. Every person, place or thing mentioned has attached an adjective like "world-class," "preeminent" or "scintillating".
Then there’s the greedy, exploitative demand for total ownership. Unlike typical juried shows which merely borrow the works on display, and ask permission to use images of them for publicity, all rights to every Red Bull entry become the property of Red Bull upon drop off. The Transfer Agreement everyone signed is scandalously one-sided.
Then there’s the panel of judges, disappointingly willing to exchange shaky artworld cred for a chance to be involved in a corporate glam-fest: Catherine Anspon, Rachel Cook (Glasstire’s own ex- editor! Et tu?), Carolyn Farb, Wayne Gilbert, Jonathon Glus, Apama Mackey, Lester Marks, and Angelbert Metoyer.
I’m not going to criticize the art. Mostly it’s terribly amateurish, made by naive suckers like I was, just for fun. It’s displayed in the Galleria, not the CAM. I can get over it.
also by Bill Davenport
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