How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?
I first learned about Crusade for Art through the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) in Seattle when they promoted Jennifer's VW Bus Pop-up event on their Facebook page in the summer of 2013. That brought me to the actual Pop Up event, where I was lucky enough to pick up a great "snow portrait" by Seattle photographer Raychel Rogers. The Pop-up was followed up by Jennifer's talk at PCNW about the need to develop collectors in addition to developing artists, and then another PCNW talk about collecting by John Bennette where he mentioned that he got started as a kid by collecting photos from magazines. By that point the idea that emerging collectors were just as important as emerging artists was firmly established in my mind!
The specific event, "Speed Dating for Art" for emerging artists and emerging collectors, really had it's genesis in watching what was happening at local Seattle area Art Walks. These are held on a regular basis in various neighborhoods around Seattle. Many viewers would enjoy looking at the art, and also enjoy talking with the artists and learning about their inspiration and challenges...but most people never took the next step..."asking for a date" (i.e., making a purchase). So, the idea behind Speed Dating for Art is to put people in an environment that encourages and supports making a match, and getting that date!
What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?
The art business, just like the music business and many other businesses, is in the midst of disruptive and transformative change brought on by the information age. There's nothing new about change itself...before the information revolution there was the industrial revolution and before that other revolutions... and these all brought transformative change, big challenges, and big opportunities to the arts and other fields. Photography has always been a technology based process, and so perhaps photography experiences both more opportunity and more disruption than other fields. That's part of what makes it so much fun!
So, I'm very optimistic and I think that there are great opportunities today for photographers to figure out how to harness all the new inventions of our age.... from advances in camera technology that open new creative horizons to the evolving social media landscape that offers new ways to connect with other artists and collectors... and then to harness that technology to new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
I think the greatest struggle may be an age-old problem... how to stay true to your art and to learn from the art community while at the same time to not be distracted by the promise of fame or the goal of acceptance, and within that balance to hopefully find an appreciative audience for your work.
How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?
There are many paths available, from showing work on the internet to submitting to shows, and so on. However, I think artists need more tools to work with, and more guidance, in getting their work out to the public in a way that can really resonate with the greater community. So, it's up to each artist to seek out ways to engage with the public and to figure out what works for them. Hopefully, the CSA engagement grant will generate even more tools and more methods to connect artists and the public.
Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?
First of all there is the issue of price. In many cases the price of "fine art" has been driven up to astronomical levels, and so everyday folks think that something with a more reasonable price tag can't possibly be good art. I think that if people learn to trust their own instincts and listen to their own, personal, emotional response to a photograph (or any other kind of art), then they will be more willing to make a purchase. We need collectors with self confidence, and who realize that collecting itself is also a type of art.