Friday, February 8, 2008

I Learned One Thing About Amelia Earhart This Morning.

I'm having trouble focusing this morning. Sometimes you want to have one conversation, but others enter in -- sometimes information just rolls through without an ability to find a home --

This morning I came across an organization called Art Not Oil whose sole mission is to get oil companies away from art sponsorships.

Fruits For Whom? - Jorge Alcoreza (Bolivia)
Fruits For Whom? - Jorge Alcoreza (Bolivia)

The issue is corporate sponsorship -- does it limit freedom of discussion about issues of global climate change... there is no money in the arts -- for the arts. Corporate sponsorship has always been one of the ways that artists have found funding for such things as... well... eating. Corporate sponsorship has also always changed the subject of art. Think of European art of the 18th and 19th centuries -- the heavy emphasis on Catholicism has everything to do with the fact that the Catholic church had the money -- to commission, to support... now think missionaries.

The site is entirely devoted to the Shell Corporation -- this seems strange to me -- and I'm wondering about the motives...

I for one am obsessed with Exxon right now.

Exxon won a law suit yesterday barring the Venezuelan government from selling off their own oil assets to ease financial difficulties. An oil company won a law suit exerting control over the autonomy of a government.

Exxon (in its earlier manifestations) was the company that supplied fuel both for Amelia Earhart and the Wright brothers. For a nifty little interactive history you can go to the company's website.

But the thing that compelled me most this morning was that I learned that Amelia Airhart was beautiful.

You can try to have one conversation -- mean to -- maybe it's an important conversation -- about how we fund the arts or sell out -- the state of the world or say goodbye. Whatever happened to her... Maybe we meant to say that and a photograph came in -- and you are interrupted -- and you interrupt yourself to say good luck when you meant to say good bye.

Studio portrait of Amelia Earhart, c. 1932. Putnam specifically instructed Earhart to disguise a "gap-toothed" smile by keeping her mouth closed in formal photographs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This "sell out" conversation is infuriating.

Art, like anything, requires financing. Business pays back financiers in dividends or interest.

Art pays back in less tangible ways, sure.

I gave up art because I thought it was demeaning to constantly ask for handouts and convince people my expressions were worthy of their patronage.

Screw everybody. The "artist" who takes any money from anyone is a sellout.

Earn it, then and only then, and ironically at that, is it free expression.

My canvas is next step I take, the next word I say, the next woman I'm ...ahem...with.

The more I earn, the more I can learn, and the more coherent my next expression, whatever the context.

To me it makes no difference if you take money from the UN, Exxon, the USA or your pediatrician.

If you're clever and motivated, you can be a deviant sellout, and then there's hope.