When all the artists are women

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Dear Artist,

Last night I was giving a short talk and signing books at one of our local art clubs. I happened to notice no men were in the hall. The club has many male members, they assured me, but apparently they don’t come out on rainy nights. Not to listen to me, anyway. I wasn’t crestfallen — I was being sociologically informed. I’ve always noticed the 80/20 split in these organizations, but I knew the full-female thing was just around the corner. Anyway, it was a combined lecture and holiday-season windup, the shortbread was good, and no one asked me to dance.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to lay some statistics on you. Of the 82 new people who signed up for the Twice-Weekly letter yesterday, 56 were women. That’s 68% — which pretty well mirrors our current ratio of 67% women subscribers. Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.

Yesterday, among the people buying my new book on PayPal, 65% were women. Funnily, more men paid by check-in-the-mail than women. One might conclude women are what social scientists are now calling “early adopters.”

Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement, networking and learning than men. In a recent UNESCO study, more women than men got university degrees in 75 of 98 countries. This goes for most professions with the exception of engineering, computer science and math. Some fields are being overwhelmed with women. The vet school in Guelph, Ontario, for example, reports 80% of current grads are women.

The fact that boys lag behind girls in school is well known and not peculiar to our times. Studies show that as early as grade nine girls crave learning more than boys. Apparently the boys are now lagging later and later. The new statistics might be alarming to some. Roles may be reversing. Are men going to be stay-at-home-daddies while the women go out into the world and slay dragons? Is breeding going to grind to a halt? Are women going to be all the doctors, lawyers and artists? And by the way, do men just not want to listen because they already know it all and need to get on with it?

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “It’s not ridiculous to say women will have the upper hand in a way they haven’t in the past.” (Economist Ross Finnie, University of Ottawa)

Esoterica: The “demographic bomb,” as it’s being called, may have its short term benefits, but the longer picture is not so rosy, particularly for Western cultures. If women are busy building empires, where will the new customers be coming from? One more statistic and I’ll shut up and get back to my easel: In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women. Ten years ago it was 24%.

 


The rise of women
by Michael A. Spronck, Bogart, GA, USA
 

121509_michael_spronck-artwork

“View from the Inn”
acrylic painting
by Michael A. Spronck

A retired Management Consultant, I noticed that the majority of art students at the University of Georgia were women. The Director said that most would become interior decorators. Wrong; most continued to study fine art, architecture, graphic design, computer graphics, sculpture, and illustration.

Later, when I attended 50 or more Art Workshops over some 10 years, the female/male ratio was usually 7, 8, or 9 to 1 or 2. The women seemed to me to be more interested in listening and more diligent in their practice. Yes, Robert, the majority and perhaps the best of artists may soon be women. Why? Because more are entering the Business of Art as professionals. They need the money; they are well accepted; and they work hard to succeed! Perhaps, they are also more right-brained.

Over 50 years as a business magazine editor and later management consultant, I witnessed women enter scores of previously male-dominated fields. They believed that they were as skilled as men, but had to work harder to prove it! And they have. Witness the new leaders in medicine, law, politics, television, business management — and art. Most universities report constantly growing female-to-male ratios in all disciplines, except math and science, for bachelor and advanced degrees.

Yes, this is a sociological problem for the Western World and the Middle Class because these talented career-minded females are having no or few children; whereas the emerging nations and disadvantaged families in our nations are having many children. I don’t have a solution; and now I have to get back to my studio.



There are 4 comments for The rise of women by Michael A. Spronck

From: Liz Reday — Dec 15, 2009

I hope all those young women artists out there don’t forgo having children. It’s a wonderful worthwhile experience if you have the support of your partner and, yes, you can keep making art. I didn’t choose to marry and have a child until I had finished art school and spent years travelling and supporting myself making art. The habit of years of painting, printmaking and museum-going don’t go away when you get pregnant, but being a full-time artist is easier if you only have one child. I went to India this summer (with family) and saw some extraordinarily beautiful women with children, quite poor by our standards, but seemingly very happy in their lovely villages in Kerala. In the temples, grandmothers and mothers pray to their gods for more children.

From: anonymous — Dec 15, 2009

I hope someone is praying for the millions of unwanted children that we have in India and all over the world.

From: Corine Barton — Dec 17, 2009

I painted all through my pregnancy and afterwards. When my daughter was three months old I was asked to do three 24″ x 36″ paintings,with a three month deadline. They were paintings for a book on our nations parks. With no sleep, because my daughter kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. I managed to carry on until the project was completed. Yes, Women are raising children and working in any capacity they can. Some women have given up having children for their careers, but I think the majority of us still want a family. Balancing is the key and not neglecting our kids is very important.

From: Kay Christopher — Dec 17, 2009

 


Women supported by men
by Suzie Baker, Bahrain
 

121509_suzie-baker-artwork

“For Hire”
oil painting, 10 x 8 inches
by Suzie Baker

In my admittedly non-statistical analysis of the disproportionate percentage of women to men in Art Societies, Art Leagues, adult art classes and critique groups I’ve been involved in over the years the discrepancy is largely due to that fact that the women who attend do so because their husbands are the primary bread winners allowing them to choose to pursue their artistic interest. In my observations the men who do attend tend to be retired from the career that allowed them to earn a “regular” salary. Perhaps when more women begin switching roles with their husbands and becoming the primary bread winners, more men will be able to choose fine arts careers which, let’s face it, may offer much in the way of satisfaction but a more challenging source of benefits and income than say engineering.

Are we women great at meeting together socially and talking about art but not so good in getting down to the work of art? Hmmm, maybe if we felt a bit more financial pressure through necessity we would work harder to develop our art, market it and learn the business of art.

I hold a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts. My husband is a manufacturing manager with a degree in Engineering. We are currently living in the Middle East, Bahrain. My husband is a US expat worker in Saudi Arabia earning a comfortable salary. So after working as an Art Director in ad agencies, quitting and becoming a stay-at-home mom of our two children, now 10 and 12, all the while trying to keep up painting and doing freelance design work for extra income, I am in the enviable position of working mostly full time on my artwork and being a mom. I’m meeting with a critique group once a week (4 women, one man). Participating in art and craft fairs (attended mostly by women) and have two exhibitions scheduled for the spring; interestingly with only women exhibiting.

 

Early power of women
by Alvin Trott
 

I was taken by your remarks about women and concern shown about their activity. I do not share this concern as I think they were always ahead of men mentally, although men were always stronger and more aggressive. Women network better than men and as a rule are more ready to share experiences and techniques. History tells us that the first popular and widespread religions were to female goddesses and the leaders of these cults were high priestesses. Men may well have produced the first weapons of attack (clubs and spears) and discovered uses for fire. But I credit women with domesticating animals, and plants, with weaving, and spinning, and grinding grain. High priestesses were in control of the knowledge of how to treat olives to make them edible for humans, and the use of yeasts for baking, wine and beer. This was held as covert knowledge and could only be used by a priestess. This all lead to the growth of civilization, and the spread and multiplication of humans. We are now finding that women may have a genetic advantage in arithmetic and the handling of numbers. The early Pythagoreans were predominantly women and chiefly concerned with the manipulation of numbers, and today, when they do take an interest, are proving very competent.

With the evolution shown in weapons and the growth of competition for prime locations, the strength and aggression of the male came into dominance. They overpowered the matricidal communities and religions and gradually seized the complete control that they have held up to the present generation. I would give men the credit of first using conquered enemies as slaves whose status could easily be identified by their being denied any weapons or clothing. Men still feel dehumanized if stripped naked, and prefer to carry a gun as a symbol of their superiority.

 


Women’s traditional role
by Martha Faires, Charlotte, NC, USA
 

121509_martha-faires-artwork

“West Barn, Leatherwood”
pastel painting, 16 x 20 inches
by Martha Faires

I find it almost stifling to be in art groups or in any groups that work toward a gender-neutral goal yet consist of only females. I find the fact that men and women are different to be refreshing and liberating.

Balint Vazsonyi (1936-2003), an astute thinker, said, “…throughout history, whereas men were concerned with the tangible aspects of life, women mostly provided the intangibles, and who is to say which was more important at any given time?!” You state, “Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.” Isn’t listening an intangible? Vazsonyi, who was a world-class classical musician, also asks a few insightful questions about the arts and gender: “Why literature produced a Jane Austen, but no composer of equivalent stature — no one knows. No political argument, only the appearance of a truly great female composer or conductor could change the picture. But here is food for thought. The liberation of women has not produced anything like another Jane Austen. And, with all the learning mandated, subsidized, coerced, and forced upon women, with all the positions and opportunities handed to women since the early 1970s, Marie Curie (1867-1934) still is the sole great in all the sciences, and no one has even come within a light-year of her accomplishment.”



There are 4 comments for Women’s traditional role by Martha Faires

From: Liz Schamehorn, Canada — Dec 15, 2009

In answer to the question (if true) of why there are Jane Austins and no female composers: all it takes to produce a great novel is a pen, paper, and one’s own brain. Access to orchestras has been denied to women until the last half of the twentieth century.

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 15, 2009
From: gail caduff-nash — Dec 15, 2009

as i said before: when have men ever listened to women? my experience has been that mostly retired men join art groups. and i have a hunch that it is competitiveness that keeps working artists who are men from socializing much in groups.

From: Martha Faires — Dec 15, 2009

it would have been good if my last comment had not been edited out.

 


Gender problems in schools
by John R Struck, Southern Pines, NC, USA
 

Your comments regarding the University of Guelph are not restricted to just that institution. Vet schools everywhere are experiencing the same situation. These young women are keen, very capable students and coral many of the undergraduate placement opportunities. The problem for the Veterinarian Profession is what to do about this. It seems that although women dominate the Educational facilities, and graduate in disproportionate numbers to their male counterparts, many do not stay in practice. This is not the case for Male Graduates. In essence, although we graduate lots of Vets, they do not remain Vets. Schools are having a very big problem in deciding how to “Manage” this situation. Do they restrict female applications, and set aside a “Number” of enrollments based on Gender? HUGE PROBLEMS HERE! No one wants to talk about this. It’s all board room conversations, immediately denied whenever the issue is accidentally raised in the clear light of day. I suspect that other professions are suffering a similar fate.

As to the preponderance of women in art groups, etc., it would appear to me that young men are losing the art of conversation, of being willing to engage in casual conversations for its own sake, and see where they lead. To my way of thinking, the Arts are about Processes, not Destinations. Artistic conversations, for lack of a better term, are often sensory, layered, convoluted–often without direction or specific purpose. But all of these characteristics are what make these conversations so rich, so interesting, so inspiring, so memorable.



There are 4 comments for Gender problems in schools by John R Struck

From: Cat — Dec 15, 2009

Or maybe, the Vet world needs to recognise that most of its practitioners are female and that a change in working practices might be needed in order to retain women as vets.

Clearly, women are competent and willing, but there must be a reason why so many do not continue to practice. So instead of thinking about how to reshape women to fit what must traditionally be a way of working developed by men, perhaps the profession should adapt to fit the working of women. Or is that something which cannot be contemplated….?

From: Anonymous — Dec 15, 2009

As a fiftyish year old woman whose health insurance demands a primary care physician, I’ve been trying to find a female doctor, rather than a male, simply because I think they understand female issues better. However, the females keep leaving their practices, for one reason or another. In the past 8 years I’ve been handed from one doctor to the next as each decides to leave. I’m now on my 4th female PCP. I’m thinking about getting a male doctor just because I want someone who is serious about their practice, and who’ll stick around long enough to get to know me.

From: Anne O’Connor — Dec 15, 2009

I have also heard the complaint that the woman who are training and becoming medical doctors are changing the practice of medicine. They cannot and will not automatically work in the same manner as the doctors we have known in the past. The previous working conditions required the support of a wife and a few nurses to keep it going. We are constructing a new way of being in the world as women and workers. We are in process and I am sure that it is very puzzling to those who thought that educating women wouldn’t make much of a difference in how things are done.

From: Monika K Smith — Dec 15, 2009

Regarding the veterinary doctor gender issue. Yes, women are disproportionately represented. (Do only women complain about being under represented?) And, there is a concern about leaving the profession to work part time or have children with a well paying, high status job always available. Smart move ladies! However, when it comes to veterinarian issues, there seems to be a move towards small animal practices with dogs and cats, in the city. Large animal vets tend to be men–those who handle domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, horses and so on. These tend practices tend to be outdoors, all year round. What does that say?

 


Disenfranchised young men
by Daniel F. Gluibizzi, New York, NY, USA
 

121509_daniel-gluibizzi-artwork

“Blue spruce”
original painting by Daniel F. Gluibizzi

I am a 59-year-old male artist living in NYC, I have a BFA degree. I have two grown sons. I wanted and took the responsibility to acquire and maintain a family sustainable career. I have achieved this. I had to do many different jobs. Sometimes it meant that I could only be the “artist/painter” at midnight.

About your use of statistics. (There was a scientist studying a fly, he pulled off one leg and poked the fly and the fly jumped. He wrote down, “A fly with five leg can jump,” repeating this till he plucked the final leg and poked the fly, but the fly just lay there. He wrote in his notebook “a fly with no legs is deaf.”) Some of your letter today smarts of this kind of “logic.” Short term statistics can show and support concepts that is not really true.

You said, “Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement…” I do not entirely agree that women are more and men are less interested, but it may be that it expresses itself differently for men. I think of men’s interest in sports as showing their intensity and desire to understand competition and cooperation in the deepest sense, teaching men how, as a group, they will be able to take care of more than just themselves. (A concept, at risk.)

I long to hear any national and international feminist dialog about what they would do with young boys and men in the world. Though I hold a doubt that they know and understand. Not addressing this is “dangerous.” I mean it in all its seriousness. Disenfranchised young men can morph into brown shirt Fascists in a flash! The art world, in all its facets, may offer the best platform for this dialog as it unfolds.



There are 3 comments for Disenfranchised young men by Daniel F. Gluibizzi

From: Darla — Dec 15, 2009

I think the best way to keep boys from becoming “brown shirts” (and girls from becoming barefoot and pregnant)is to teach them critical thinking and logic, and instill in them the idea that they are OK as they are and do not have to be followers and “fit in” in order to be worthy.

This is not the same as that bankrupt “self esteem” movement of years ago. That was about unearned praise, and kids rightly saw through it as fake. We need to respect our kids as individuals with different strengths and interests, and teach them that respect and courtesy to others are virtues that improve their reputations and not the same thing as subservience. Teach them that all humans deserve basic courtesy and fair dealing.

Oh, and get rid of the “boys toys/girls toys” aisles in the toy stores. If you look, you will see that almost all the toys in the boys’ aisle promote action, competition, building and destruction. Most of the “girls’ toys” promote decoration, socialization/collaboration, service, cosmetics and creativity. Oh, and the girls’ toys are pink and pastel. On Freecycle last year, a man was giving away an expensive electronic toy because his daughter had outgrown it and it was inconceivable that his son inherit a pink toy!

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 15, 2009

The last comment about ‘boy toys and girl toys’ brought a smile to my lips. I remember when my daughter was born (I already a son) and I was determined to treat them the same. If one got a toy truck, they both did, when I bought a Raggedy Ann doll for my daughter, my son got a Raggedy Andy doll. WHAT A LAUGH. From the day she was born, my daughter was totally and completely a girl (as my son had been completely a boy). She liked dolls, make up, jewellery, fancy clothes to dress up in. Whereas my son liked action toys, cars, trucks, legos. I came to realize that it had nothing to do with what toys they had to play with, they were BORN different and had different tastes and interests. I had to conclude in the end that men and women ARE different, they are born different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We just all have to make the best of who we are.

From: anonymous — Dec 15, 2009

There was a TV program where they gave dolls and truck to a group of baby monkeys — you gessed it, monkey girls played with dolls, boy monkeys with trucks. My friend has a boy and a girl and they do the gender neutral toys. The son (5 year old) takes his doll to bed at night but he takes off her panties — nobody dares to ask any questions.

 


Women not recognized
by Mary Erickson, Marshville, NC, USA
 

121509_mary-erickson-artwork

“Timeless Journey — White Egrets”
oil painting by Mary Erickson

Not long ago at a gallery opening, my husband stated that my business was quite the “Old Boys Club.” I had been working too hard at succeeding at my art to have noticed. Now that I pay attention, I see many iniquities in our business. The Salmagundi Club hosted the first “American Masters Show” a couple of years ago in NYC. There were 33 master artists, only three of whom were women. The three were married or involved with one of the male “masters.” Just recently American Artist Magazine promoted The Weekend with the Masters, with similarly unequal ratios of men to women speakers and instructors. Not long ago The Masters of Marine Painting exhibition was hosted at the Union Club in NYC, and no women were represented. The gallery statistic of only 24% women artists only reflects the bias that professional women artists deal with constantly from gallery owners, museums and the general public. Often after stating that I am a professional landscape painter, I am asked what my husband does for a living, and am often told that I am lucky husband supports my endeavors. What I truly am lucky for is a husband that accepts my passion for what I do, and the hard work, sacrifice and hours away from home that go into being successful. Women artists need to realize this situation, and support each other. There are far too many great women artists out there who are not getting the recognition they should in the museums, galleries, books and magazines of our time.



There are 12 comments for Women not recognized by Mary Erickson

From: Tara Juneau — Dec 14, 2009

I noticed that too and feel the same way. Great work!

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Dec 15, 2009

Thank you for saying this so well. Women artists are recognized more now, our work is purchased more frequently, but where it really counts, the male artists are still thought to be the “real” professionals. When will women no longer have to listen to subtile put-downs like “What does your husband do (to support you while you play at art)”

From: Liz Schamehorn, Canada — Dec 15, 2009

I’m sixty years old. I grew up hearing things like this: “All the best (painters, musicians, cooks, knitters, sewers, you name it) are men”. So it didn’t matter how many women did these things, they could never be as good as men. Plus ca change…

From: Ron Unruh — Dec 15, 2009
From: Rose — Dec 15, 2009

Thank you for all this wonderful info.

From: Liz — Dec 15, 2009

What about the world of western art? It seems the more traditional the style of painting, the more “old boys network” the artists are. Many of these art dealers are women, but they seem to prefer their male artists…go figure. Contemporary art seems much more open as Ron suggests. Recent museum showings and articles in Art in America and Art News have many more women artists. Traditional art equals traditional gender roles?

From: Faith — Dec 15, 2009

My dealer once said that “women are pain in the but to work with” and elaborated that they demand more attention and always try to change things. I guess that serves them well as artists, but dealers don’t like that.

From: Esther J. Williams — Dec 16, 2009

I think that the art collectors have a lot to do with this choice of buying a male artist’s work and the gallery owners know this preference. I’m not at all agreeing to this statistic, but that’s what I have been told. I was told to remove my first name from signing my works and you bet I did.

From: Linda C. Dumas — Dec 16, 2009

It is interesting that when auditions are held with the performer behind a screen, the proportion of women musicians in orchestras increased significantly. I was in an art competition where my experimental piece won first place in the category, and the judge was surprised to learn that I was female. I’m not sure what that meant… It would be interesting to see what would happen to art submitted to a competition if it were only identified by A. B. C. and had no signatures.

From: Esther J. Williams — Dec 17, 2009

I just read this news this morning: Whitney Museum of American Art’s curators Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari just announced the placement of 51 artists for the 75th Biennial in 2010. As the art critic Jerry Saltz exultantly pointed out, the shift to a 51% female-dominated stronghold of this microcosm of the art world was a coup.

From: Tania Hanscom — Dec 17, 2009
From: Amy Evans — Dec 20, 2009

I agree with Mary’s comments. There is still a male bias in the art world. I have also been subject to the attitude that because I am a woman artist, I don’t need to make a living from my work. Therefore I must not be serious about it and so my work must not be as collectable as a male’s. It is a false assumption, but I have seen this attitude in some gallery owners as well as collectors. Some male artists depend on their wives for income as well as doing all the marketing, yet this doesn’t seem to matter because of their gender.

 


Men leading men
by Susan Belcher, Wasaga Beach, ON, Canada
 

121509_susan-belcher-artwork

“13.Ode to Joy, Duntroon”
acrylic painting by Susan Belcher

I find your stat on representation of living women artists very sad but unfortunately true. Though women have embraced art and dominate numerically in producing and studying art, too many men have come to think of art (and I mean all art with the possible exception of pop music) as frivolous or do not take women artists seriously or find them threatening, women are not getting the recognition they have always deserved financially. Even women are not exempt from this unfortunate prejudice. I speak as a contemporary female artist and teacher. My painting classes are dominated by women while my male peers have no problem filling their classes with admiring men who won’t even entertain taking a class from a woman. I hate to sound so bitter.



There are 6 comments for Men leading men by Susan Belcher

From: Caroline Simmill — Dec 15, 2009

Very interesting Susan as I notice that the two watercolour painting classes that I run each week are attended by women. I have one man who comes along each week, yet he also attends a yogi class again with only woman, he is retired and has decided to just go along and do what interests him. I don’t know if it is true that men are not so happy to be taught by a woman as I remember many years ago attending a class myself in painting, there was only one man in that large group too! My location is rural Scotland so maybe that could have something to do with it!

From: Caroline — Dec 15, 2009

sorry forgot to mention that the class I attended years ago was run by a man.

From: Fredericks — Dec 15, 2009

I can’t speak universally, but I can share my experience. I have attended quite a number of watercolour classes and an oil painting session, and I once attended a community watercolour group painting session. The classes were made up of possibly more then 90% women, and the community group I walked into, had a dozen women. I was the only male in the class. Every woman in attendance painted flowers.

I am not averse to learning a craft from women — the sex of my instructors was an even 50/50 split. While I am not certain of where the journeys of other people took them, I can say that before 5 years had ended, my works found their way onto a gallery wall. But, as I said…I cannot speak for the women in attendance.

Let me add this, if I may. I hungered to learn how to paint. One teacher told me that he had never had a student so fixed and determined and ambitous in desire and work ethic.

One art teacher privately told me that the students in her group (and I was only one of two men in her class of about 20), the majority were there to socialize and eat the treats that were provided.

I won’t create any theories or universalize but my experience has shown me that the human qualties of socialization, were as important or possibly more important for most of the women I have seen in classes as the painting journey itself.

From: Catherine Robertson — Dec 15, 2009

Its interesting to me that, as you wrote, in a class of a dozen women, every one of them painted flowers. I’ve been teaching drawing and oil/acrylic painting every week since 1986 and have found very few women are painting flowers. In my experience, most lean towards portraiture, landscape and animals, domestic and wildlife, birds being especially popular. In defence of flowers, they offer much variety in shape, size, color, composition etc. Many of the Dutch masters did not seem to have an aversion to floral content. Incidentally, there are men in all my classes, some of which have indeed drawn or painted the lovely “flower”.

From: patriarchist — May 02, 2010

Equality as defined on whose terms? In the terms of feminist man-haters like you? Hmmm….

From: Anonymous — May 03, 2010

patriarchist, wondering why such a negative accusatory response came flying from your fingers I read the letter and responses and could only come to one conclusion, you have issues, your perception may well be a little skewed and your judgements are merely an indication of how unpleasant an afternoon in your company would be…

 

Men ruining everything
by Suzanne Hesh, Tucson, AZ, USA

 

121509_suzanne-hesh-artwork

“Psalm 014”
acrylic painting by Suzanne Hesh

Oh, yawn… another “fear of women domination” confession. This article is an endorsement for “all artists are men.” Yes, women are going to run the world, yes, we can do it successfully and, yes, it will be a better place than it is now. The newsflash is that male-dominated cultures have ruined pretty much every area of life on the planet with their need for conquest, profit and winning-at-all-costs combined with an insufferable arrogance and a pathological and erroneous belief that their rights must prevail while trampling on the rights of others.

I adore men. I just don’t think they’re fully adult at any age, that they cling to adolescence and lack any interest in or effort toward emotional development or autonomy. Amusingly, they’re filled with the delusion that they rock. I’m not surprised that the statistics scare the heck out of men. Sing: “It is the dawning of the Age of Equality.”



There are 6 comments for Men ruining everything by Suzanne Hesh

From: wes giesbrecht — Dec 15, 2009

Bravo! You tell’em girl…. we’re headed into a global matriarchy and faster it happens, the better.

From: Charisse — Dec 15, 2009

Wow, sounds like the alimony check is late arriving.

From: Brad Greek — Dec 15, 2009

Possibly it’s this confidence in men that keeps them on top, while the women are sitting back with excusses that we are trying to keep you down. I’ll take a class from a women or a man, I find them both the same. Most school teachers are women as well. We have all been taught by women from the beginning of our lives, Thanks Mom!!

From: julie nilsson — Dec 15, 2009

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. It’s women who raise those males. It seems to me that we all need to relearn compassion and sensitivity in these transitional times. We need each other more now than ever. We were born equal but with different attributes and stengths. As Woman once reigned “supreme”, so then Man came to rule…perhaps in this coming age, the two can come together as in the time before civilization catergorized us. As in the time of the native peoples whose structure required that we all were regarded equally and existed for the good of the whole. We need and deserve that common ground again for our preservation.

From: Liz Reday — Dec 15, 2009

The best way to raise the economic situation of a country is to educate the women. If you don’t think educating women is important, perhaps you would like to live in a village in Afghanistan? For every woman who joins an art group for socializing, there’s another woman taking classes with a single-minded ambition and determination to become a brilliant artist with a successful career in the art world. Bottom line: when we have kids, they take priority. Most men don’t do their fair share of housework & childcare. When it falls to the mother, some of that burning energy gets siphoned off. Men want to be the breadwinners of the family. I admire both men and women artists who have found a way to balance family, art and money.

From: anonimpus — Dec 17, 2009

But that’s exactly the point — there is no way to achieve that balance — or it’s so rare it’s not worth a mention. It’s all down to the question — what do you chose to sacrifice — the money, children, spouse, yourself, someone’s happiness? Men got faced by this earlier than women who are just now realizing this conundrum. That’s why so many men simply chose the one thing they can have and sacrifice others — or they cheat. They have been at this game for centuries. Women are finding this out hard way and loud way. There is no way to have it all. Those who succeeded at having it all should be celebrated as heroes — just like Tiger Woods… ah sorry, bad example!

 


Different learning styles
by Jini James
 

121509_jini-james-artwork

“Meditation”
watercolour painting by Jini James

As an educator, I listened with great interest to a recent National Public Radio broadcast about differences in learning styles between the sexes. One school in the States is separating the classes and promoting group activities; lots of dialogue and novel approaches to acquiring new skills for the girls. In contrast, boys are provided with learning opportunities that are laced with competition, both on an individual level and as a team. The result? Improved scores all around!

I too, marvel at the sea of faces that are female at most, if not all workshops and meetings. In contrast, I am delighted to be a part of a Guild whose sole purpose is to draw life models, both portrait and figure. On any given day of our sessions the room is predominately composed of men. I am often the only woman present! One of my classroom credos is “Paint to suit your personality.” I have to add “Learn according to your preferences.”



There is 1 comment for Different learning styles by Jini James

From: Anonymous — Dec 15, 2009

kudos for that, i agree

 


Further statistics
by Kate
 

As long as you are quoting statistics, maybe you could check out some others that are brought to mind, such as: What is the percentage of men vs. women who control or own galleries, who are curators in museums, who determine whose work will be shown in shows? Might be surprising and very interesting.

Also, when it comes to selling artwork, what is the price difference in pieces sold representing works of art produced by men vs. women?

I don’t want to date myself, but when you talk about women vets, I can remember not so very long ago (like 20 years), when a woman trying to break into the vet world had a very hard time: 1. getting a job; 2. getting the same benefits; 3. getting paid on the same level as male counterparts.

What I am saying is, as long as you are going to quote statistics in these newsletters, please provide a balanced approach in terms of the power structure that controls the art world. I would love to see those statistics, and wonder if you will print this.!!

(RG note) Thanks, Kate. Of my current 13 most active galleries, four are owned and run by women. Two others are owned and run by husband and wife teams where the wife plays a most active role. All of my galleries have effective saleswomen who often have a say in who gets hung. Even when galleries are run by females their choice of artists is still predominantly men. We don’t need to look far to find women as curators in museums and public galleries. The job of being an art critic, in Canada anyway, seems about equally divided between men and women, but I’m just guessing from a few names I know because I don’t pay much attention to them. Regarding price differential, a survey of three of my galleries found female prices to average about 30% less than the male prices for a few of the same-sized paintings we tabulated. On the other hand, several (elderly) female artist friends are finally commanding very high prices. For those who might be interested in checking and verifying my own statistics, you can see my galleries under “Dealers” at (www.robertgenn.com).

 

The usurpation of the male
by Tom Werdin, Cape Coral, FL, USA
 

Women are social animals, quite literally. They gather for a variety of reasons… listening to you lecture is not the most important of the reasons why most women gather despite your acumen, I would submit.

Men (versus women) will not gather for a lecture simply for reasons of social acceptance, interchange and note-comparing. A few will gather for future building blocks’ philosophical reasons. Men want to stand alone on their own identity. They won’t pay attention to what is the present clothing fad.

Men are choosing to have their leadership usurped by women through a behavior and conditioning process which starts in early years of adolescence. The girls alone establish an importance of school grades’ criteria in formative years by use of simple will power, social networking, communicating what the teacher wants and how he/she grades (curve or?) and the female goal of determining just how much effort is needed for a target grade. Grading criteria is something men rarely inquire about. It’s as simple as that.

It is the rare teacher, professor who sees through this onslaught of females’ “knowing the answer before the question is given”; teachers will grade their students’ response to their own agenda and criteria. The boys take a C while the girls fret over an A-.

Boys are getting put down for being boys. They therefore won’t take leadership from weak male leaders who surround them, or from women.

Boys will get their education on their own, and later, each as a man has a story to tell why he is doing what he is doing.

This absence of desire to be what boys are, this lack of identity has brought decreasing male leadership.

Few men have the spirit or courage to fight city hall. They follow up with drug, sex and power struggles that only God knows how to approach. Most of it shows a lack of integrity, though many think they are destined for glory without it.

Men through their acquired insecurity desire, and some achieve, deeper thinking which takes far more time to form building blocks. They have more pride than women in gaining personal insight and a competitive edge but comparison is mostly between other men. But that doesn’t account for much on the human stage.

Men substitute specific grades-point targets with more general knowledge. The women are far more pragmatic.

The majority of the time men don’t want competition with females and if there is competition they are willing to give up a relationship with females to avoid it; or they are willing to abuse that relationship out of simple insecurity.

Our nation is already paying for this usurpation with more sleeping-around, fewer marriages, more aberrant behavior, less fellowship and less integrity. Men and women are critically lacking in spiritual acumen, and that is simply defined as honesty. It’s worse for our nation that males don’t have integrity than it is for girls not having it.

What is appalling is this Nation, this Media, and politicking are encouraging these gender aberrations and this breakdown of male potency. There will be more females born, more destructive relationships, more accommodating of female needs and demands. The few men who will lead will pay a huge price. A few might find it worth the effort.

Males have chosen to run from their destiny with a spirit of compromise toward their gender. Women are filling the void. Some know enough not to fill it. I am married forty-eight years to one.

I paint pastels for sale and recreation. Almost all the artists are women. They run the sales, the trends, the purchasing, the juried shows, the art associations, well, you know the gambit. I am getting a little closer to my identity. ha.



There is 1 comment for The usurpation of the male by Tom Werdin

From: Andrea Pratt — Dec 15, 2009

Though I don’t agree with everything you say here, Tom, I think you have made some excellent points missed by others. As a mother of very creative teenage sons you are so right about boys getting their education on their own and their disregard for the largely social aspect of grade attainment (it is more about social recognition than any real measure of worth). As a woman who operates very much like a man in the social sphere I have two strikes against me: a dislike of social networking amongst my “own kind” and the historical disadvantage of being a woman. But since I do function like a man socially and in my opinion of the status quo, I hate being a victim, so I continue to struggle away silently in my studio and hope that someday my talent will overcome my so-called double negative. It can happen!

 

 

World of Art Featured artist Lidia Colman, San Francisco, CA, USA
121109_lidia-colman-artwork

Golden fields

watercolour painting by
Lidia Colman, San Francisco, CA, USA

 

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Mary Moquin who wrote, “An interesting discussion on female artists vs. male artists here. So maybe we women just have to work a lot harder to be taken seriously in this field as in most which would explain your high turnout.”

And also Adelyn Cooper who wrote, “I’m no longer a flight instructor because it was so hard to get men over the age of 15 to listen to me. I live a stone’s throw from Johnson Space Center, and all the men around here are engineers; did they want to listen to a secretary tell them how to fly an airplane?”

And also Roger Davis of Aspen, CO, USA, who wrote, “Forget about it and paint.”

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for When all the artists are women

 

 

From: Susan Holland — Dec 10, 2009

Boy am I glad you happen to be a man saying those things, Robert! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Not only are the men not listening, but they think that when their women listen they are being hoodwinked! Why would their women need to go learn anything from others when they have this wonderful male creature at home who already knows everything and is “getting on with things” as you say.

My erstwhile man even thought there must be something fishy going on for me to want to learn from you, Robert! Learn from you online and in books!

I do think there is still a strong territorial issue that goes on with men, and I don’t mean painting landscapes.

Thanks for giving me a chance to blurt this out. :)

From: Richard Smith — Dec 10, 2009

Years ago when the Japanese were building a North American market for their cars they did their homework and realized that women had a far greater say in what vehicle was purchased than was believed and so they aimed their marketing at women far more than had been done in the past. And got great sales out of it.

It strikes me as ironic that as women enter the art field in larger numbers that your top four galleries are only showing 27% women artists and that in ten years it has only gone up by 3%. Somebody is not doing the math. Unless there’s a huge prejudice against buying work by women artists, which I can’t believe, then there must be a prejudice against selling it. That I don’t understand either. But then, all three galleries I’m in are owned or run by women. Go figure.

Thanks for the info Robert,

Richard

From: Faith — Dec 10, 2009

Now that’s what I call sweet revenge, Robert. Through the ages there have of course been women artists. About.com writes “As Renaissance humanism opened up individual opportunities for education, growth, and achievement, a few women transcended gender role expectations”. Aha.

Those magic words “gender expectations”. In some parts of the globe women are sadly still treated as the inferior species, though we should know better. Historically speaking it was almost impossible for a woman to break out and do her own thing until comparatively recently (and not everywhere!). Not that women weren’t painting in the old days. But they were usually prevented from “coming out” over it e.g. Artemisia Gentileschi.

So now we have a reversal of the situation. Workshops and painting courses attract many more women than men, and the old excuse that women have more free time just does not hold, given that many women have full-time jobs and still have to care and cater for home and family.

The fact is that women are better at finding time to do what they have to/want to/need to. The secret is multi-tasking. A big challenge for the male gender, a way of life for us females.

Sweet revenge, when men stay home to guard the furniture and fittings and women sally forth on adventures!

From: Faith — Dec 10, 2009

Maybe I should add that in some parts of the world women still uphold this “god” image of man; they allow (yes even encourage) their daughters to be genitally mutilated; they breed sons to be suicide-bombers; they are prevented from getting higher education (in some cases any education at all)….. For Westerners it’s hard to understand how powerful such traditions can be, since the age of executing non-believers has thankfully ended (but not so long ago). Here in Germany immigrant women in various traditional outfits ask (me) to tell them how much an item on a supermarket shelf costs because in our age of so-called modern enlightenment in a modern society they are totally illiterate — and don’t seem able to change anything, or are being prevented from doing so, since a modern society is less influential than a long-held traditional belief (that women are there to breed not rule).

This discussion is bound to transcend the question of who goes to a cultural event such as Robert’s talk. But it probably won’t change anything. Indoctrination – religious or cultural – is a powerful tool used mainly to subjugate.

From: Ron Unruh — Dec 10, 2009

Robert, on this matter I am as fascinated by the remarks of your respondents as by your own presenting comments. This time you did not provide prescriptions but expressed your own quandry. The stats are not alarming to me but that is not to say I understand whether we are watching a setting trend or a role reversal or anything that should cause any of us to be concerned. It appears a natural progression of the liberty women have been taking and enjoying in recent decades to break conventional and cultural expectations. Perhaps a higher percentage of men will give themselves freedom one of these decades to enjoy a walk through rose gardens of Vienna, and to value the spontaneity of watercolours running on a page, and sit long enough to hear ocean waves gently touching rocks along the shoreline. It all takes time.

From: Faith — Dec 10, 2009

Liberty from what, Ron?

From: Frank Miles — Dec 11, 2009

the increase in dominance by women is not limited to the art field. In my own area of business, daily newspapers, women gradually became dominate in the news departments, the classified sales department, the business office and since computerization of the mechanical area, they dominate there as well. Not only were the ladies as accomplished as the men, corporations could hire them at less salary. Perhaps the gender roles are changing for better or worse. And I notice that men who are engaged in art and similar creative activities are often cosidered sissified and odd by their male counterparts. All hooey of course but that’s the reality. What goes around comes around. I enjoy being associated with the women in my art activities. They communicate well and at a higher level than most of the men.

From: Katherine Tyrrell — Dec 11, 2009

Thank you Robert – it’s so good to read a man writing about the marked bias of women towards learning and development. I’ve just tweeted this article as highly recommended – but I’m guessing not many male artists will come and read it. Just as they didn’t turn out for your talk. More’s the pity.

My own experience of workshops and courses is that women often account for about 90-100% of those enrolling with only a few managing to achieve the ratio of two thirds women. I guess one of the lessons for those who aspire to teach art is that you better get on well with women and talk their language!

I have wondered for some time why it is that art seems to be about 30 years behind the times in terms of the achievements of women within the context of how other occupations and the rest of the economy have progressed. On my blog, I’ve started to monitor the gender of those entering major art competitions in the UK and those winning prizes. The results make for interesting reading. I’ve started to comment on the disparities too see BP Portrait Award – who enters and who gets selected. I wonder if other readers agree that women should do more to highlight the ways in which bias appears to prevail in terms of who gets selected for galleries, running art societies, winning art competitions etc. I’d love to see more men like Robert choose to do so as well.

From: Katherine Tyrrell — Dec 11, 2009

Hah! The hyperlink didn’t work.

If you click my name you’ll get the link to my blog. Insert “BP Portrait Award – who enters and who gets selected.” in the Google search on the blog and it will identify the blog post in which you can read about gender issues relating to portraiture and the UK’s top portrait prize.

From: Consuelo — Dec 11, 2009

This is probably one for the psychologists but, maybe the ratio is skewed so much in favor of women because women feel a stronger need to attain social acceptance & standing via their art while men are more content to create their art quietly without stardom recognition.

From: Ted Duncan — Dec 11, 2009

Be careful of how you read statistics. It may also say something more about the education system and how thing are taught and learned.

From: Dee — Dec 11, 2009

We rise again :)

Thousands of years ago, before “women’s knowledge scared the heck out of men”, women were worshipped as Goddesses; Freya, Diana, Brigid, Artemis and Venus to name a few.

I’m glad we’re not still stuck in the times when women had to hide in the guise of men in order to take non-traditional gender-expected paths, or use male nom de plume when publishing their writing.

From: Dale — Dec 11, 2009

Maybe the men joined the club to make art ?

From: Darla — Dec 11, 2009

Maybe the reason men don’t join art groups is that for women, art as decoration (not social commentary) is a socially acceptable “pastime”, while only men who are very sure of themselves join the group. The men have to overcome the idea that art is somehow not a manly concern, ridiculous as that sounds. Maybe that’s why women who are interested in art join groups, while men who may be interested stay away, unless their drive to learn is large enough to overwhelm the fear of implied social criticism.

The irony here is that most artists don’t consider their work to be mere decoration, and men who are brave and individualistic enough to be artists are very often looked up to; they stand above the crowd. Perhaps that also explains why 75% of the artists in galleries are men, or maybe it is that men are socially conditioned to try to make money with what they do more than women are.

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 11, 2009

Oh, wow. This one will be pages long in responses! Several observations:

It comes down to women perfectly willing to stop and ask directions while most men will drive in circles for 30 min before they will ask anyone. Art is no different.

I know women who sign their work with initials rather than their feminine name so their work will not be dismissed. Sadly, it works.

I dislike blaming everything on discrimination, but I will term it perception: all the great artists were men, right? It is cultural and social acceptance at a very deep level and exists even in western perspectives today.

It is still bewildering why men are perceived as more dedicated in their pursuit of art while women are considered hobbyists.

And, my dear female colleagues, quit buying into justifying your lack of success and men’s triumphs. We are our own worst detractors.

As long as women have babies and are the main caregivers that will not change. Women have always laid down their ambitions to raise their families. Men never undergo the angst of having to choose between career and nurturing their children. It doesn’t exist.

Along with that, I would like to see the age demographic of these women at that art club. I would bet there were mostly older women who are now able to seek a career in art after their families were raised.

Men normally seek their education for a life career when they are young. “Okay, I’ve got all I need to make a living.” We know art is a life long pursuit one never is finished with our education.

And finally Robert, the particular book signing you made this observation, few men will leave the comfort of their own home to show homage, and listen to their wives gush and profess their admiration to another man. Especially if it was on a game night. Alpha male syndrome. :-)

From: Brigitte Nowak — Dec 11, 2009

Interesting and provocative, Robert (as usual).

Unfortunately, in spite of aspiring to superior education and forming the majority in a number of “helping” professions (doctoring and teaching, e.g.) I don’t think that women are going to take over the world. Stats still suggest that for all of their achievements, women earn about 2/3 of men’s wages, for similar work, and that at the senior levels, men still dominate.

I suspect that women join art associations as much for social reasons as to advance their careers – in fact I suspect that for most women, art is an activity, rather than a career, which may explain why gallery representation is skewed so heavily toward male representation.

From: Sally Ann Baker — Dec 11, 2009

Some of the female artists I know have stopped using their first names when signing their work preferring to be neutral. After reading your post this morning I am going to encourage them to use their full names.

From: brigitte Nowak — Dec 11, 2009

To Sally Ann Baker: given Robert’s comments, why would you suggest to your female friends that they use their full name? There is an apparent bias in favour of male artists being taken seriously, and if Robert’s comments regarding gallery representation are not enough, a walk through any museum should make it clear that women are at a distinct disadvantage as artists: using only one’s initials allows one’s work to stand on its own, with no gender baggage to affect the viewer. It is unfortunate, but it is a fact.

From: Mary Sheehan Winn — Dec 11, 2009

I recently commented to Carol Marine about what I jokingly (not condescendingly) referred to as the ‘token’ guy, in her workshop photo. Without exception, painting workshops are filled with women and one or two guys. I have no answers as to whether men are resistant to learning from women, but in one workshop I attended, a man complained to me about the teacher demo-ing in a way that suggested that the teacher ( a man) was stealing the student’s painting time. I feel differently about that and am rapt when the instructor is ‘showing us’.

Sometimes I attend an artists demo when it is offered to the public for a small fee, whether or not I am registered for the class, because watching the artist paint is so informative.

My opinion though, is that men are less open than women in many ways, to either change or learning. Don’t know if that’s culture or biology. In defense of men, they just haven’t been allowed to be as ‘soft’ as women (if that’s the word) and I’m sure it hinders them some.

I enjoy reading your newsletter even when you are on a yacht in the Mediterranean and I am shoveling snow ;)

From: Tim — Dec 11, 2009

well it finally happened you put the final straw on the poor camels back. It’s time for me to say goodbye Robert and Ladies. I have read all you ladies whining about everything from muses, getting in touch with feelings to the bad vibrations left in there studios after the male painters left and all the rest of the artistic drivel.

Men don’t like to go to workshops and blog sites because of all the getting in touch with your feelings crap spouted. we only go for art instruction, which there is very little of. So again goodbye everyone! Stop complaining start painting…

From: Jack — Dec 11, 2009

goodbye Tim, you won’t be missed

From: Tess — Dec 11, 2009

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under…heaven.” In this blink of an eye, in the vast continuum of time, it is now a time for women. The doors of opportunity have been opened and we are dancing through them with joy (and some anxiety in trying to be too much to too many). Those door are open to guys if they choose, if not more so. It is a cycle: it has been so in the past and will most certainly change in the future as humanity changes. As for the discrepency in % of women artists vs. those in galleries–hard work ladies! As for me, I’m enjoying the moment and you guys should celebrate with us!

From: Anna — Dec 11, 2009

Jack, I’m so glad you told Tim goodbye for us. I think most of us here are VERY serious about our art (man or woman).

From: Loyal White — Dec 11, 2009

Robert, I don’t know where you got your data re. “women in engineering”. My experience (in the U.S.A.) is that the percentage of women engineers is increasing rapidly. The lady engineers I’ve worked with (oil & gas and chemical industries) are better prepared than their male counterparts! They seem to take their professional status more seriously.

From: Anna — Dec 11, 2009

Does it really come down to being a man or a woman…should it not be about doing a good job?

From: Jim — Dec 11, 2009

As a man in an art class I’m out numbered by the ladies by at least 3 to 1 and frankly, I don’t mind that at all. Everyone in my class is producing interesting pieces and it is great to see the variety and treatment of subject material. It doesn’t matter that there are more women than men, it’s more about the quality of the pieces than the gender of the artists.

I can’t speak for all men but I don’t think I have any issues with listening to or learning from the ladies. And, if we as a society we are moving from have having male dominated professions to having a more even spilt then that seems like a good thing. Wouldn’t it be ideal if in the future the most talented people were at the top of every profession and the rest of us didn’t care about their gender or background.

From: Rene Wojcik — Dec 11, 2009

If there is any kind of social event women are at the front of the line. Book signing in is the same. Don’t feel bad, Robert. I think it is in their genes. In classes, workshops or art shows the ladies are about 70% of the attendees. The percentage of awards going to women in local competitions are just as high. The thing I have noticed is that women seem relish at being the social organizers in art shows and competitions. Also if there is an ear around they will do anything to make sure it is being used. They do love to talk. Don’t get upset ladies but I can’t talk and paint at the same time.

From: Mai Lee Phelps — Dec 11, 2009

I see a strange phenomenon among the children of my working cohorts. Their daughters are driven in school (right through college) and the sons seem to become overgrown tweeners at 27 years of age. Young women with information worker and white collar jobs are supporting their under-employed spouses. The young women are buying sensible cars, paying off student loans, and save, but the young men are playing video games, driving jeeps and buying jet skis. While this isn’t universally so, among my acquaintances, it is an increasing trend. It’s even worse in some minority communities. At local art openings, the representation is currently running about 50/50, but with single artist shows the men still have a strong edge. That last male bastion will fall shortly. There is a significant movement afoot. It might not be a problem, however. Empowerment of women has been long coming. But let’s hope that someday we don’t wind up swinging in an opposite direction and needing to have consciousness raising about the stereotyping of and lack of opportunity for men.

From: Karin Richter — Dec 11, 2009

I inquired at a local gallery recently and the first thing they asked was how many paintings I was capable of turning out. This confirmed what I had suspected for a while. Women artist are perceived as slow producers because many of us have family commitments. They may have a valid concern. What they should be doing though is looking at artists on an individual basis and their track record….

From: Terry Rempel-Mroz — Dec 11, 2009

If women are busy building empires, where will the new customers be coming from?” Not to worry, Robert.

The customers will still be there, because the glass ceiling will never be broken. During WW2 women built planes, trains, ammunition, cars, ran factories, schools, offices – and then went back to the previous status quo when the men came back. There were female painters in Europe hundreds of years ago who were just as good as the male Masters (Judith Leyster, Artemisia Gentileschi, Maria van Oosterwijk, to name a few), and more modern ones such as Tamara de Lempicka and Georgia O’Keefe. However, as you point out yourself, ” In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women. Ten years ago it was 24% “. Even in our more liberal and educated society, status quo still reigns.

Am I a feminist? No, just a realist.

From: Ann Chaikin — Dec 11, 2009

Interesting that at least in the United States women still earn 76% of what men do on average. So higher interest, involvement and education don’t seem to help women receive incomes that are even at par with those of men. And really what would be the problem if women were all the doctors, lawyers and artists? Men would still be the bankers and CEO’s. Don’t mean to be sour grapes but look what that’s done for us so far.

From: Shirley Peters — Dec 11, 2009

I have returned to full time art school after raising children and earning a living as a graphic designer. I was surprised to see that the class was 95% women, and most of them were older than myself.

I think the reason for the imbalance is financial. The men are still having to work! My husband is an industrial photographer, and he would love to do fine-art photography… but then we would have no income… Painting sales do not an income make!

From: Bill — Dec 11, 2009

Shirley Peters, that’s an attitude you picked up from some of your teachers.

From: Ingrid Dabringer — Dec 11, 2009

I just mounted my first show at the age of 40 and got the curator from the local gallery to come down and review my show – no holds barred. And, of course, I simply don’t produce enough to be able to select the top 10% for a show. I don’t produce enough to make the mistakes I am longing to make. I often have entire lists that could take days that have little to do with art. I agonize over the balance, with as much compassion for myself as I can muster. My husband started a new job in September and I have started teaching after-school art, Art for Mothers at the YMCA and will be teaching felting at the local Art Gallery in March. All this teaching and mounting of a show means that I am limited in how much I am actually making. And also since September, it has dawned on me that my son is fairly dyslexic on top of his ADD and that he absolutely needs more of my time. My other son has very bad excema which needs constant management and doctors. Everyone needs cuddles and soups and bandages. Mostly, it’s tiresome having so many legitimate pulls on me.

And don’t even get me started about the insidiousness of the nuclear family. Humans didn’t evolve in these tiny units and they require unnatural things from both men and women. (Not to mention the selfish indiviualism from which the nuclear family stems is really bad for the environment.) I have very strong female role models in my mother and mother-in-law. Both of them raised children and then went to work after their kids were in school and both had very successful careers, (one even as an artist). Nevertheless, our culture now is faster than theirs was 30 years ago and there are still only 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t surprise me that we women need the community and support of your newsletter and are still such a small percentage of featured artists in galleries.

I do not wish away any of the men/boys in my life but I am increasingly fine with allowing what little art I happen to make to be funded by my husband’s career. I do this with slightly too much bitter self-righteousness (perhaps the only way to justify it and not feel mother’s guilt), when I think of Klimt or Gaugin or countless other male artists who took mistresses and lovers, and catered to every artistic whim, while their wives, sisters and mothers toiled.

From: Bill Mccoy — Dec 11, 2009

I have noticed this trend for the last ten years. Here in Melbourne Florida, women have become the “movers and shakers” in the world of art.

The artists demographic here is 50 – 65 years of age. Is this new age quilting clubs? Being very connected with the arts community here…the women who have been teaching (and offering workshops at the local Museum) are unable to fill their classes. The economy perhaps, but I doubt it.

Recently I had a call from a woman who bought and rehabbed an historic home, she divided it into studio spaces for rent, and converted the garage into a teaching studio. All the studios are occupied by women…anyway, she was looking for an oil instructor – my class filled immediately. I’ve never taught before. I also run a weekly plein air painting group…men rule!

From: Debra Gow — Dec 11, 2009

What can I say, we birth, we paint, we rock!

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 12, 2009

If any forum members happen to visit Washington DC bless yourselves with a visit to the National Museum for Women in the Arts. Theirs is one of the finest collections in the country. Besides painters, they support writers, musicians, poets, and sculptors. I consider my membership the most positive thing I can do to promote women in the arts.

http://www.nmwa.org/

From: Carol MacConnell — Dec 12, 2009

If the numbers of women studying and learning is growing…100% at you lecture, 67% on your website, why are the galleries showing 73% male artists?

From: Leonard Thompson — Dec 12, 2009

I paint on silk www.silkartist.co.uk and give talks and demonstrations to many types of group. Many of them are women’s groups but when I visit art groups many of the men don’t attend. I think this is because they think silk painting is a female activity. Those men who do brave it enjoy my talk and tell me that the men who stayed away “Don’t know what they missed!”

It is a fact that there are very many more female silk painters than male. I have found that when a male works in an area that is female dominated they must really excel if they want to make their mark. Flower arranging is another example but from what you write it seems more widespread.

From: Sharon Williams — Dec 12, 2009

! I have taught art to adults for over 15 years, and there is usually one or two brave males in my classes, the rest are women. I founded and used to run Leading Edge Art Workshops, and my clients were mostly female. The men seemed to come out much more for the male instructors than for the female instructors. I think most men have an aversion to being under the ‘authority’ of a woman. It is interesting that most of the more prestigious galleries have a majority of men artists, and no, I don’t think it is because they ‘know it all’, or are particularly better than the women artists. I believe there is an existing stereotype that says that if a man has dedicated his life to art, it is a career, and therefore worthy of being taken seriously. For women, the same level of commitment is considered a hobby. As a woman, I really grit my teeth at the reality of the injustice of it all. I would love to hear what the statistics are on which sex purchases the most art!

From: Tom Andrich — Dec 12, 2009

I have been teaching drawing and painting at The Forum Art Centre since 1990. I have noticed through the years the female students taking classes is closer to 95%. Does that say something about the males in Winnipeg? I enjoy teaching the women, they seem to enjoy learning new methods and are willing to try different things.

From: John Ferrie — Dec 12, 2009

I have been selling my art for for over 20 years. I know that art is a luxury item and is really the last thing people buy. I also know that 95% of the population, won’t like my work. Of the 5% left over, only 1% can afford it. And if a couple comes to buy in my studio, no matter what, it is ultimately the wife’s decision which piece to buy. If a husband comes to my studio, I know he will return with his wife later. Rarely to they choose the same piece. They go home with the piece the wife has chosen.

Anytime I have done artist talks or interviews, it is the women who attend and take notice. This is not to say that men don’t love or appreciate art. Men seem to respond faster, they know what they like and what they don’t like. Women do too, they just need to make sure they have gone around the block and viewed it from all sides.

From: Raynald Murphy — Dec 12, 2009

Of the three art associations I belong to the percentage of men members are: 19%, 20%, 30%. Yes, where are all the men?. Playing golf?

From: Paul deMarrais — Dec 12, 2009

About 95% of my workshop students are women. I see women as being more fluid and open to new ideas than my gender. We men are more like concrete. Hanging out with women is good for loosening us up. I see women as excellent in business as well as networking is very natural for them. In the new web paradigm , networking is the name of the game. In my own field of pastel, I’ve noted many more women climbing the ladder in their careers. THey have no problem ‘playing the game’…entering the right shows and obtaining memberships in the right societies etc. Men aren’t generally good joiners and some us chafe at playing the game. We tend to be ‘sovereign nations’ rather than members in communities. THe only less positive thing I see among these very effective women artists is that they sometimes seem to have difficulty finding their own voice and distinct style. Perhaps they are too malleable and assimilating. Of course, it is dangerous to generalize in this gender mine field. I’m a big fan of women myself. I heard once that you could judge the health of a society by the health and treatment of women in that society. Vital, strong , creative women are a blessing to all of us. We men would do well to learn from their success.

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 12, 2009

To John R. Struck regarding female vet graduates who ‘do not remain vets’… have you considered that perhaps, being female, they are having difficulty finding work and that is why they drop out?

One more thing to consider on this topic: at a certain age, women outnumber men by 2 to 1. Considering this, that changes the ratio aspect of men to women somewhat.

From: Irene Chaikin — Dec 13, 2009

But in your last sentence you left out the word “think”. It should have read, “By the way —————do men THINK they know it all etc.etc.

From: John David Anderson — Dec 13, 2009

I have been teaching classes in oils for years and have always noticed the dearth of male participation. I told a class of women that its exactly what they knew about most men…they think they know it all already or they are to scared to show they don’t…

From: Kordelia Kudel — Dec 13, 2009

Hey, Robert, i just LOVE statistics, and 90% of the time i make up my own…. but being a female reading a male, i took yours as God’s honest truth… THAT should be good for another statistical rumination.

From: Melissa — Dec 13, 2009

I have been subscribed to your letter since my former school art teacher and current (male) friend and role model reccomended the Painter’s Keys website to me. I value your thoughts and opinions.

However, I found this letter highly disappointing. I make it no secret that I am a feminist – something I must say is a radical notion considering most girls my age are forgetting what their mothers fought for and are returning to a world without much female thought (or any thought, really). I am constantly fighting for respect in my classes from chauvenistic teachers and pig-headed peers. This is no different in the art room. It seems that there is an unspoken understanding that the guys create expressive art, while the girls are meant to create pretty pictures. For a straight female such as myself to want to live life as a REAL artist, this notion is highly insulting and pathetic. I fight for my respect not only among men (actually boys – the men are decent human beings!) but also women and girls because I, as a feminist and as a human being, want to be seen in every way – socially, professionally, and artistically – as equal – no better and no worse – than an equally qualified male. Today, all the news media is buzzing about womens’ mass return to work and everything, but in my mind, women are taking one big step backward in their mindsets.

The truth is that there should not be any distinction in gender in art.

It shouldn’t matter who created a work as long as it makes you think.

That doesn’t mean that that is what people believe – just what they should.

As you read this letter, I continue to work – just as any man – to improve myself as an artist, a student, and a person.

From: Andrew Baker — Dec 13, 2009

There is more than one proposition to explain this.

1. Yes women do network more easily as a generality.

2. You have been successful in hooking women’s interest because of your seductive way of writing.

3. Men are out at work earning the money that allows wife’s and partners to afford their interest and buy your book.

4. Women can project their status and security needs/aspirations onto men thus allowing more time to meet other human creative and nurturing needs. Men are still in the 21stC unable to do this in reverse.

5. Play is a preserve of the feminine where societal and cultural pressures inhibit and perhaps condemn the creative impulses of men.

6. Men do not want to learn from another person they are psychologically predisposed to find out for themselves. Rightly or wrongly.

As an aspiring artist at the age of 54 who has just had the contract of employment terminated and needs to find the wherewithal to pay pressing bills I am firstly more focused on job networking. Isolated in dealing with esteem issues and hurt as a lot of men and perhaps some women in this current financial climate are.

Despite having the time to do creative work, the internal and external pressures cruelly inhibit the ability to overcome difficulties and setbacks necessary to achieve success.

Does your book tackle this issue and when money is pressing would you still advise that I treat myself to buy your book?

Privilege has an unacknowledged deficit in its inability to stand in the shoes of others less fortunate to understand the cruelty of the huge waste of talents in this world which is still about the baseline struggle to be heard and understood.

From: Eva Kosinski — Dec 13, 2009

It’s absolutely predictable. The relationship between learning, real learning, self-practiced and self-motivated, and success has long been known. Oddly enough, the fact that womens’ opinions do get regularly blown off by men could be part of the inspiration for this. Women more often subscribe to the old adage “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

Women tend to seek out what they don’t get taught in schools and recently schools have been teaching to the lowest common denominator and teaching to the test, rather than inspiring the love of learning and encouraging creative and independent thinking.

There are those women, however, who seek out men to do the teaching and fall into the sheeple category, trying to emulate successful artists not by emulating their knowledge level or insight capabilities, but simply by parroting their work, but I believe they are in the minority, and are rarely successful in art or in other areas in their lives.

Most importantly, women value creativity. Creative solutions are almost mandatory for folks dealing with children at home, or trying to get by on a small budget (historically, women control most of the spending in households, for food and upkeep, etc.), or balancing work and home life.

Those who value and practice creativity are more likely to be successful and focus on the individual contributions that they can make (not being sheeple).

Years ago there was a study on teaching art, which found that art skills help people deal creatively with life (I wish I had a reference to it, but I don’t — I think it was done in Colorado ) and that dumping art programs from schools was a really bad idea. As things like No Child Left Behind forced schools to focus more on testing than creativity, it’s logical that the women who wanted to keep those creative elements in their lives, who independently signed up for art courses and other imaginative programs, would begin to pull ahead of men in the success department.

From: isabel Benson — Dec 13, 2009

Well I’v read all the letters so far. Boy it’s true. Women sure do talk a lot. So far can’t see that they have SAID anything. But then I’m past 80 and my generation did not have the time to whine so much. We were too busy DOING it. Making changes I mean. And thanks to Ted. Someone had to be less than “politically correct” and say it.

From: sabine — Dec 14, 2009

I think it is all about integrating the female power – be it a man or a woman. All of the work can be done differently. Just decide from your heart. Look – don´t judge.

From: Wendy Hale — Dec 14, 2009

When I got my first dog I was told by a breeder that the alpha dog in every litter is always a female (I think she used the word “bitch” as breeders are want to)…interesting fact, since if you want to be the alpha dog, you would tend to want to be the best educated…my male friends think it’s great that women want to do all the work. They say “Let them. We’ll stay at home and watch the game.”

From: Keith — Dec 14, 2009

Perhaps the gender issue may be a result of men dealing with the disappointment of our failed systems more than women. The journey over the last 50 years has been one of historical awareness, and an effort to correct coupled with a blast of bravado in which people die creating more issues that need correcting. My apologies for the simplicity of this explanation for as we all know it truly is very complex, and as a thoughtful artist it is quite a bit to grasp and process. My work has come to an absolute standstill for I don’t feel at this time representing the athletic world is a valid effort given the state of it. I started out in an effort to honor those processes in athleticism that brings the individual to the spirit of growth. Competition should lead to cooperation that in turn leads to contribution. That is not happening now, rather a decadence that is serving no one, not even the individual participating in the self deception. Perhaps women do not see it as something that would give call for halt and review.

Despite any of societies ills the number one industry in the world is still fashion for women which I feel gives them great power to stop much of what was going on. What would happen if all of the world’s women did not buy clothes for one year in protest of an issue? In the world’s number one industry that would have quite some impact. Maybe what you are seeing is just that trend whereby women are seeing in Art that reflection time, and my original assessment is a hasty one. It makes me feel an intense desire to speak to them, and all about the human condition within my work. I am looking for a voice.

From: Amber Grey — Dec 14, 2009

No, Robert, women will not slay dragons. We will tame them, just like we’ve done with unicorns for years. Oh, and that bit about being a virgin in order to attract a unicorn is just plain nonsense. Grandmothers have been keeping unicorns alive for years.

From: Lynda Hartwell — Dec 14, 2009

Robert, you’re a glutton for punishment. First you start a war between “early risers” and “late sleepers”. That caused a ruckus.

Now you’re starting a comparison of accomplishments between genders.

Why not just tie a pork chop around your neck and slap Siegfried’s tiger?

From: Kathy Dunn — Dec 14, 2009

Maybe the men are all out slaying dragons, and when they at last get home, they need to stay there and rest. Women generally have more flexible lives (a euphemism for having a wider range of responsibilities that pull them in many directions), and having been home while my kids were home, and working when they were in school, I can say that getting out for something that focuses exclusively on my interests was a rare treat.

When it all comes down to it, consider the percentage of men who make their living by creating art. Taking your quote, “In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women”, that means a whopping 73% of career artists are men.

As a general trend, I’d say women are still slogging their way towards being able to develop their own gifts into rewarding careers. I look forward to the day when half the artists are women.

From: John Fitzsimmons — Dec 14, 2009

I go to gallery openings and most of the men there are accompanying there significant others [aka: sigothers]. Much of the traffic I see in art stores is female,[ I notice these things] much of museum and gallery staffs are female, and it seems that the much of the exciting new work I see in the galleries and museums is by women.

I think one part of this is that women are more interested in participating in social organization, more interested in verbal communication and more interested in each other. Men are more interested in exploiting what is there for their own benefit, and of course being more individual. Much of the new work is about social interaction and language and that is female territory.

This goes back to “asking for directions” difference in the sexes, I don’t ask directions because I am pretty sure most people have no better idea where they are or are going than I am.

I have to think about this some more and will post those comments on my blog : http://profile.typepad.com/jfitzsim by the way, I have been posting useful tips about studio organization, brush care, etc etc.

From: Cheryl Braganza — Dec 14, 2009

“Living” is the key word in your last statistic about women’s representation in galleries, so it’s no wonder. Most of my friends in Montreal speak casually about what they would do after their spouses passed on – as if it’s a given. I was born in India and grew up feeling isolated as a woman so your stats were uplifting even though they refer to the West only. I believe that women have always brought special gifts to the table, no matter in what century or what country. It’s men’s thinking that has evolved. I continue to crusade for women and women’s rights through my art, because even though statistics point in a certain direction, hard reality tends to be a tad different.

From: Brian Norman — Dec 14, 2009

Hi Robert, it’s the same at our FCA meetings. Even the executive has a greater number of women on it than men.

there could be many reasons for this and I sure you would be aware of them, but I wonder, after women have been suppressed so much in the past that this is a sort of catch-up that we are seeing. It seems to be happening in all professional fields. Even their voting rights have been recognized. In addition, in the Edwardian era, women were expected to stay home and raise children as well as manage the household. They were not allowed to get a university education. A woman artist be it music or visual arts were never taken seriously.

From: Claudia Roulier — Dec 14, 2009

Robert, I think the observations are correct. I belong to several coop’s and one salon group, they are mostly women. I think the reason may be simple, women tend to be “joiners”, for whatever anthropological reason. I don’t think most women want to be men particularly, the trends don’t really show that. I wouldn’t worry!!

From: Jack Dickerson — Dec 14, 2009

I have found that men artists on the whole are far less interested in sharing their art, process, emotions than women. I know a lot of artists and the women are the sharers. They are the community builders. They are the relationship people–open, welcoming, supportive, sharing. Men, on the other hand, are very protective, defensive and uncomfortable sharing anything at all. I sense a very very competitive attitude with men, perhaps even born of insecurity. So I congratulate all the women artists who make a huge effort to communicate, share, and understand. It is a most welcome and beautiful thing.

From: Ginny Stiles — Dec 14, 2009

Isn’t it a surprise that with so many women artists and learners that we are only 27% of the living artists in the gallery?

Doesn’t it strike you as odd?

But then, of course, making art, reading about art, and creating art does not mean “selling art”. It would be interesting to know how many of the women artists buying your book, reading this blog, or attending workshops care whether or not they SELL art or are fulfilling the life long dream of just “enjoying” art by making it and showing it and giving it away? Art can be, as is well documented in your blog, a way to meditate, re-focus on the importance in the world, and a way to express what we feel about life in general. Don’t get into the bad habit of only talking to those who want to make art as a living. Women generally live longer than men and I would argue that they find more avenues for creative focus than men.

Leesburg, Florida

From: Bob Cook — Dec 14, 2009

The “percentage of males willing to listen to females” tracks almost exactly the percentage of males married to females. And I resemble that remark.

From: Mindy Flexer — Dec 14, 2009

Interesting, Robert, but you miss an important point: if 75% of the artists are women, why are 73% of the living artists represented by galleries men? I think this is called sexism. Interesting too that despite that, women are still on the cutting edge of learning.

From: Amber Grey — Dec 14, 2009

Esoterica really has some issues. All the new customers are going to come from the over 65 Seniors who are continuing to live beyond yesterday’s life spans. They will be the ones who will buy all this new stuff, though they will be tougher bargainers than younger folks. Plus we have over 6 billion people in the world. With countries developing overnight, I don’t think there will be a customer shortage.

From: Suzanne Snell Tesh — Dec 14, 2009

Just had to tell you I smiled and chuckled many times as I read your piece just now. Sociologists are indeed worrying about the men and writing books about it, but based on the men I know, very few of the straight (not gay) ones do much introspection even if they are creative.

Unfortunately the catch is that men are raised by their mothers and their peers and then there is the hard-wiring as well, which Mary Tannen has written about in many of her books.

Until the mothers, and fathers when they are involved, start pushing back against the hard wiring of men to be competitive and combative, and the military starts taking sexual abuse seriously and gets their mind around homosexuality, the current patterns are unlikely to change. And Hollywood will just keep reinforcing the old values since that is what sells movies to the demographic that drives movie revenue–young, violence-loving men.

I believe it will take a man with both feet in the mainstream and able to change values (unlike Robert Bly who I guess is still pretty fringe) to write a book, make a movie, and start a movement to demonstrate the gains to all from men learning to behave both competitively and cooperatively, combatively and nurturingly, as women are already learning, before anything changes very much.

In the meantime, me and every other woman I know will just keep going our separate ways, learning and growing, and keep loving our men for what they are, which is sadly pretty limited on the emotional plane.

From: Gisa Mayer — Dec 14, 2009

Surprisingly enough most or all prominent art prizes are won by men. The list of the most important artists of the 20. century includes 4 women. Something to think about

From: Christy Michalak — Dec 14, 2009

ARGH. In my “day job”, I work as a female engineer in the auto industry, in a company where I heard that the ratio of men to women is over 600 to 1. My favorite story is the day that I flew people from companies around North America to a factory somewhere in the US (far from my Canadian home, in any case) in order to attend a meeting I was chairing. One man came in the room and asked me to get him coffee…apparently mistaking me for the token secretary in the room. I might have ignored his mistake except for all of the blushing and stammering from him when I started the meeting.

We women have a long way to go, but thank goodness we are out there representing ourselves and our professions. Perhaps our daughters will have an easier path towards equality.

Thanks for helping to spread the awareness, Robert.

From: Bob Hemphill — Dec 14, 2009

There is too much gratitude here to pack into one short reply. Suffice it to say that for this artist living in a remote westcoast community your twice-weekly letters are far more welcome than just about anything else coming down the pipeline. Like many artists with little other contact with the bigger art world they sustain me – thank you.

Ever since my first exposure to algebra I realized I am not one for complex math like the demographics you bring up. Always one for more “hands-on” experience (and damn the torpedoes!) when my wife announced the approach of our 1st “blessed event” (after 11 years of blissfully unencumbered marriage) I knew it was time for compromise. She was getting an education that eventually led to a successful lifelong career – I was a struggling artist barely able to hold my own in spite of the penance of “day jobs”. Almost gratefully I became “Mr. Mom” – in a few months I found myself living in a resource based community where the ability to fold diapers was not as admired as I felt it should be, given the complexity of that task (especially when being done single handedly, bouncing the unhappy child in need of said diaper on one’s hip… try THAT for creativity, Mr. Picasso SIR!)

We raised three brilliant children (I am biased) who will go on to WOW the world – my greatest masterpieces! (…okay – the Missus played a part … but women do that easily!)

I painted here and there whenever I could – grateful for the economic and domestic security that allowed me that privilege. I have a few hundred pictures and a wealth of experience – AND I got to be there for every important event in my childrens lives. If the world sees the current trend as a bad thing I’d like to raise my voice in humble protest and offer to educate a few people. Being a stay -at-home Dad is good for the kids. Maybe even good for the Missus. AND it really didn’t hold back my art – take a look at the pictures.

Dad’s make good “moms” – being there every day for your kids is simply good for everyone… (and oh… the Missus and I have been married for going on 34 years… so that hasn’t suffered so much either.) Cheers!

From: Sandi Miot — Dec 14, 2009

I’m not a feminist and do not have an agenda, but find myself fascinated by all of this. I am now beginning to suspect that our concept of what constitutes “good” art is derived from an art history of predominantly male art and therefore keeps perpetuating itself.

From: Bobbo Goldberg — Dec 14, 2009

I’ve received Bob’s new book, and it’s a masterpiece worthy of the content. Cover design, choice of typeface, the luscious, thin paper and bookmark – this is a class act from top to bottom, and well exemplifies today’s Letter. The details are all in place, and immersing in them is irresistible. Thank you for this wonderful book, and for the honor of writing one of the forewords.

From: BobboGoldberg — Dec 14, 2009

On topic:

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and generalizers are from Uranus. :)

From: Jeanne Rhea — Dec 15, 2009

I started three or four times to send in comments, but each became so long, no one would have had the time to read them. But I found myself over the week-end checking in to see if some of the readers who often comment, give us some inkling of their thoughts on this topic. J. Bruce Wilcox, where are your opinions and thoughts? I missed them. You always have another angle to consider.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 15, 2009

Robert your stats are a bit misleading. Firstly, the 65% of women buying your book may be the women only writing the check while the man will read the book when it arrives. Also, when you think of the subject matter of the book, few men will sit through the diatribe of art blather enclosed. Men would rather do than talk about it as women are more want to do.

The 80/20 split in attendance could be explains that the men are working while the women have more time to listen to those who write and sell books.

For the 56 women signing up vs the 82 new signups, the same could be true. Men don’t have as much time to sit and converse on computers about art, much of which conversation is heresay or opinion. It’s a known fact that Sociologists have determined women to be more verbal than men. This is not to assume men are disinterested of ill informed. They just keep it to themselves more than women and when they do speak generally do it with fewer words than it took to fill your book.

Lastly, I don’t think the women subscribers to your site should be lumped into “those willing to listen to men”. That is very sexist in my humble opinion. I believe women like to listen to other women with like opinions and that could explain the imbalance.

As for more women getting an education than men, this is a sociological anomaly in today’s society and has yet to be examined. The spike could be attributed to new freedoms women are experiencing and they are making up for the “lost” years when they were denied an education.

I, for one, never go to book signings nor do I converse on getting one. If I want it, I buy it without fanfare.

Statistics are a very tricky thing and can be slanted one way or another with any argument.

From: Richard Mazzarino — Dec 15, 2009

The short hairs on my neck go straight up when I read “men have little to no emotional content” as Suzanne Snell Tesh believes. I actually believe, being a man, that we have as much emotional “plane” as women but don’t have a need to cry about it between ourselves all the time. Yes, we were raised to be strong and steadfast and keep our emotions in check. This is not to assume we are without emotions. Women should take a lesson and keep their emotions more in check and stop waving their hankies for the support of other emotional women. Many women I know are atypical in this regard and act more self reliant and still are women in every respect without the histrionics.

Men bashing seems to be rampant in today’s society and we are sending the wrong message at the expense of men to our children. When this attitude prevails, the chasm between the sex’s increases and both sides are forced to play this “game” which perpetuates the split and differences between men and women.

As for men being responsible for the current situation the world finds itself, doesn’t say much for the mothers who raised them and controlled their youth and upbringing. The problem, as I see it, could be traced back to when women started to get more say and put their oars in the water to stir the pot counter-clockwise.

From: Melissa — Dec 15, 2009

I have been subscribed to your newsletter since my fomer school art teacher and current (male) friend and role model recommeneded the Painter’s Keys website to me. I value your thoughts and opinions. However, I found this letter highly disappointing. I make it no secret that I am a feminist – something I must say is a radical notion considering most girls my age are forgetting what their mothers fought for and are returning to a world without much female thought (or any thought, really). I am constantly fighting for respect in my classes from chauvanistic teachers and pig-headed peers. This is no different in the art room. It seems that there is an unspoken understaning that the guys create expressive art, while the girls are meant to create pretty pictures. For a straight female such as myself to want to live life as a REAL artist, this notion is highly insulting and pathetic. I fight for my respect not only among men (actually boys – the men are decent human beings!) but also women and girls because I, as a feminist and as a human being, want to be seen in everyway – socially, professionally, and artistically – as equal – no better and no worse – than an equally qualified male. Today, all the news media is buzzing about womens’ mass return to work and everything, but in my mind, women are taking one big step backward in their mindsets.

The truth is that there should not be any distinction in gender in art. It shouldn’t matter who created a work as long as it makes you think. That doesn’t mean that that is what people believe – just what they should.

As you read this letter, I continue to work – just as any man – to improve myself as an artist, a student, and a person.

Melissa

P.S. My motto: I am a Christian and an Artist; a Feminist and a Republican. (You can be both.)

From: Lynda — Dec 15, 2009

There is an easy explanation why there are so many women artists but so few are in galleries. Women are very good in using all available means to get into arts, however, they are generally more difficult to work with, overbearing with their own needs and tend to backstab. Males are easier going as bosses, coworkers or business partners. I wish it wasn’t so!

From: Lynda — Dec 15, 2009

P.S. I admit I speak from bitter experience, I dream of the pleasant past when my boss was a man who ordered work to be done. My boss is now a woman and every day is a psychoanalysis session! Sigh!

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Dec 15, 2009

I might mention, I haven’t noticed it here, that many men say they couldn’t have gotten where they were without their wives, or that their wives did all the promotion, galleries, paperwork, etc. I haven’t seen any “success stories” in any magazine where a woman gives the same praise to her husband. Maybe I need a wife!

From: Esther J. Williams — Dec 16, 2009

Robert, let me say thanks for placing up this topic. It was an eye opener of how many strong different opinions, attitudes & beliefs people have on it. I have truly looked into the hearts of many individuals by reading these comments. This topic of females becoming an ominous presence in the art world is all about a collective consciousness, belief systems and feelings towards a desired change in this world. Since the days of women`s suffrage, we have been trying to become equal to man. Who knows if a balance can be determined when so much anarchy exists. For right now, it’s within yourself, man or woman, in your power to create as an artist or whatever creative skill you might have, so act on that, not worry about any injustices. I applaud the men on here who want to learn with women artists. I myself am grateful for all the learning I received from male artists. To focus on the inequalities will only keep them as a problem and not pave the way for a solution. Men & women were created to be different, that will never change. We need to embrace our uniqueness, keep learning from each other and co-exist. It might just be a never ending challenge from the looks on here. After speaking my part, I now must depart to paint and kick up the quality a notch. Evolution!

From: sgtaylor — Dec 16, 2009

I am long past being surprised when women engage in overtly sexist portrayals of men. I am still, however, completely perplexed when men engage in the same. Even when men come to the defense of men – and there are fewer and fewer men willing to do so – they often reassert the same negative, sexist stereotypes of men as promoted by women.

Are we really so willing to accept the picture painted here?

Are we really unwilling to listen to anyone, male or female? That does not square with my experience, although there are certainly specific men and women that I will not likely lend an ear to again.

Are women really more likely to be “early adopters” than men? Again, that does not square with my experience.

Are women really “more into growth, self-improvement, networking and learning than men…”? (I will admit that I have little use for networking, but I know a lot of men who swear by it.)

Boys and men do not crave learning? There is plenty of research out there suggesting that the classroom environment favors girls and women over boys and men, but none that suggest that boys and men do not learn nor crave learning.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.

Unfortunately, it seems that a growing number of men have indeed bought it, and are now selling it. If we are in fact doomed as a gender, it is not because of what we are, but because of the lies that we are seemingly so willing to believe about ourselves.

From: Liz Reday — Dec 17, 2009

Wow! Sgtaylor…..well said.

 

 

 

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