Disposable art

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Jill Bukovnik of Invermere, B.C., wrote, “I’ve had five solo shows at our local art centre with lots of sales. The curator has always given me a large room and comments how well my work goes. So I was very surprised when she called my paintings ‘Disposable Art.’ She compared them to amateur jewelry, ‘you wear it for awhile then throw it away.’ I just can’t wrap my head around how she so casually said this. I don’t think people choose art that way. I paint with bright colors, imagination, whimsicality and joy. People tell me to forget about what was said but I haven’t been able to. What do you think? What is ‘Disposable Art,’ anyway?”

by Jill Bukovnik

Thanks, Jill. Your curator may be having bouts of jealousy. “Wallet envy” is a popular hazard in the arts. On the other hand, she may be one who believes that art has to be serious. To these folks, often well-educated, lighthearted means lightweight. The problem is compounded when we realize that lightweight often finds homes faster than the heavy stuff. This fact makes for bitter curators, dealers, collectors, and artists.

by Jill Bukovnik

The important thing is to stick to your guns and paint what you want. Work in ways that suit your personality and world view, whether joyous or somber. Internal truth pays. Slings and arrows of critics be damned, live your bliss. Like playing the horses, trying to fathom art acceptance is a mugs game. Stay off the track. Another, related issue is “Generational Shift.” Children of active art collectors tend not to collect the same art as their parents. Typically, the better educated children move toward the more obscure and daring. But not always. Some second and third generation collectors these days are mighty conservative compared to their folks. There is a parallel between the action-reaction generational shift that often takes place in musical tastes. I’ve noticed that people are reluctant to dispose of art. Consequently, “RRR” (Relegation to Rumpus Room) is a common procedure. Art that starts out in the living room gets moved downstairs. Most “black velvet” paintings, for example, have now been shifted down. The wait for them to come back up may be a long one, but you never know.

by Jill Bukovnik

Best regards, Robert vPS: “If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now.” (Fred Allen) Esoterica: A very real problem exists when work is poorly made. Genuine criticisms can be made around this issue. Poor workmanship haunts all genres. To improve processes and quality you need the help of people who work at the same sort of thing — preferably ones who deal with quality issues in their own work. We live in an age of planned obsolescence. Markets are flooded with low quality tools, technology, clothing, etc. Obsolescence pays. One might ask why art might not be included in this economically sound system. Further, the more art aligns with fashion (including the whims of interior decorators) the more we see obsolescence in art. Market motivated haste is dangerous to the true value of art. I don’t recommend it.   Jill Bukovnik 100110_jill-bukovnik 100110_jill-bukovnik2 100110_jill-bukovnik3 100110_jill-bukovnik4 100110_jill-bukovnik5         100110_jill-bukovnik6 100110_jill-bukovnik7 100110_jill-bukovnik8 100110_jill-bukovnik9 100110_jill-bukovnik10           Working from the heart by Alicia Merrett, UK  

“Mojacar Evening”
mixed media
by Alicia Merrett

I love Jill’s work. It is original, colourful, imaginative and happy so I’m not surprised it sells well. I would buy one of her paintings if I happened to be at one of her exhibitions. It has the “WOW” factor that I search for in my own art work. I also have had comments on my textile art being too colourful, not ‘serious’ enough. I ignore those comments. I go on doing the work that comes from my heart and makes me happy. And it sells, too. I am inspired by artists like Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Miro, Hundertwasser, Howard Hodgkin, because of the colour, imaginativeness, and feel they followed their chosen path without letting adverse comments deviate from their purpose.   There are 2 comments for Working from the heart by Alicia Merrett
From: Barbara Carter — Oct 04, 2010

After re-reading the letter from Jill, I was driven to go to the dictionary and found another definition for disposable – free for use or available. In a way, Jill’s paintings are very free for use — they excite, they lift spirits, they brighten days — and do that to all who see them, not only to the one who paid for it. People take from it for free what they need at the moment – free for use. Sometimes it takes a twist to see what might have been meant. (and now to post this, Robert makes me do math!!!!! Or I and my comments are disposed of!!!)

From: Martha Loving — Oct 05, 2010

The crassness of the curator’s comments just show where her mind is – consumerism and materialism, referring to the consciousness of a “throw-away society” – not necessarily where the artist’s mind is. The realm of color is universally of the heart and soul – the feeling life – no matter what culture or society. Jill’s colorful works of art are enlivening to the soul. We live in a world where our souls are devoid of nourishment and Jill’s art FEEDS us, playfully, simply, AND profoundly.

  Whimsy can be serious by Judith B Jones, Pleasant View, Utah, USA  

original painting
by Judith B Jones

I think that Jill’s work is delightful. I too, work in a whimsical style, using bright colors. My paintings sell and my shows are sell-outs. I believe that serious things can be said with whimsy. It is a serious and worthwhile thing if a painting brings pleasure and joy to the viewer.       Critics need to know artist’s goal by Tommy Barr, Banbridge, N Ireland  

“The Clan”
original painting
by Tommy Barr

The first big international show I did included a highly regarded international figure presenting a critique of my work. It was neither particularly good nor bad. He made some good points, but failed to see where I was trying to get to – so some of his thoughts were therefore ill founded. Since that day I now explain to critics what I am aiming for before they speak. They do much better and their thoughts are more likely to contain a little gem of wisdom when armed with that understanding. A very experienced artist speaking to me after said, “Tommy, you realize that critics are to artists what ornithologists are to birds.” Harsh I thought, but like all legends, originating from truth.     There is 1 comment for Critics need to know artist’s goal by Tommy Barr
From: Helen Tilston — Oct 05, 2010

Beutifully said Tommy, The quote, second last line, speaks volumes. Your work is spectacular – continued success

  Simplicity requires skill by Liz Reday, South Pasadena, CA, USA  

original painting
by Liz Reday

“Disposable Art” is someone’s jealous assessment of work that sells fast and often is never disposed at all, since it is treasured for its ability to instantly lift the spirits in a charming childlike way that is very hard to achieve, otherwise we’d all be making it and making folks happy AND selling like crazy in a time of recession and dismal sales. I like her work and know how hard it is to create work that “makes it look easy” when that very simplicity and effortlessness takes timing, practice, skill and soul. The art game is full of bitter people sniping and snarking to get ahead, but the truly successful artist is humble and treats all artists with respect. It’s only the people at the bottom who exhibit this petty behavior, if that’s any consolation! The whims of interior decorators are child’s play next to the vituperous comments of those who organize shows or work for agencies, but whose art never quite makes the grade. It’s better to be polite instead of issuing forth retaliating zingers, I know from experience, and don’t get in as many shows because of those zingers. There are 2 comments for Simplicity requires skill by Liz Reday
From: Bev Searle-Freeman — Oct 05, 2010

so true Liz

From: caroline Jobe — Oct 05, 2010

love your market painting!

  Disposable opinion by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA  

pastel painting
by Paul deMarrais

I think what the artist heard was a classic example of “disposable opinion.” Most opinions fall into this category. Artists need to have a large real and virtual trash can to dump a huge portion of the negativity they are bound to receive from both the artistically ignorant and the snooty curator types. In the end, art is for people. The fact that Jill’s paintings are consistently sold in her area tells the real story. Her paintings connect with people who are willing to part with cold hard cash to acquire them. That is the ultimate compliment and endorsement to their value. I look at each sale of a painting as the equivalent to winning a first prize in a show. It’s a real honor to have someone buy a painting to hang in their home or business. In my experience these original paintings are treasured… the exact opposite of the curator’s opinion. There is 1 comment for Disposable opinion by Paul deMarrais
From: Diane Artz Furlong — Oct 05, 2010

I totally agree with you, Paul. My paintings are my way of expressing how I feel about the landscape and my joy is when someone recognizes and responds to those feelings.

  Trash or treasure by Gail Caduff-Nash, Mountain home, NC, USA  

“Spiral Shell”
watercolour painting
by Gail Caduff-Nash

In the summer home my wealthy clients they had a wide range of art they had bought but one piece that she prominently displayed in her kitchen was a very primitive picture of a chicken and things I couldn’t identify. Someone else might have called it trash but she saw treasure. People seem to love bright even loud colorful and dramatic graphics for their walls. Jill’s work reminds me of a friend’s, who has also sold very well. I like doing quieter pieces and working out subtle combinations of color but I know they don’t sell as well. If you live in a town like mine, where people are rather conservative, the quieter pieces are encouraged by other artists and dealers. But 30 miles away it’s the bright ones that sell. P.S. Everything is transient, unlikely to last and destructible. Even Leonardo lost some of his work. The very tenuous nature of art makes it more valuable. There is 1 comment for Trash or treasure by Gail Caduff-Nash
From: Lynn — Oct 04, 2010

thoughtful comment and beautiful artwork, thanks for sharing.

  Compliment mistaken for criticism by Ed Sauer, Costa Mesa, CA, USA  

“Still Life”
mixed media
by Ed Sauer

I wanted to thank you for your response to Jill’s concern and let Jill know that I loved her work. I can see why it sells so readily. It is bright and beautifully colorful and easy to see any piece of her work bringing life to a home. I recall many years ago when I was younger, during a rainy Muskoka Lake day, we all were in the cottage of a friend doing our own thing and I chose to draw something. My friend’s mother walked by and commented on what a nice piece of “primitive art” it was. Being young I felt slighted, but only later found out that it was actually a compliment. That made much more sense because this woman, a patron of the arts, is just the most wonderful person and for some time I was confused as to why she would denigrate what I had drawn. In Jill’s case it was different and I think you pegged what was going on there.   Consider the source by Krista Hamilton, Sherwood Park, AB, Canada  

“Distant Stories”
original painting
by Krista Hamilton

One of the first times I showed in public was at the non-juried Old Strathcona Art Walk in Edmonton. I had a very successful weekend and was pretty thrilled until a gentleman walked up and in very educated speech told me what a bad painter I was and all the reasons why. Being a first year artist, I knew exactly where I was in terms of my development as an artist and this was reflected in my pricing. There was no need for him to stop at all except that I think he wanted to belittle someone on that day. I’ll never forget that feeling; he made me feel like I was a fraud. But here I am 10 years later, a semi professional artist making a bit of money starting to get some positive feedback from welcome places and all I can think is that man was a person with no vision. She’s just one person Jill, focus on your vision and all those people who think your work is extraordinary enough to grace their walls. There are 2 comments for Consider the source by Krista Hamilton
From: Paul-Rochester NY — Oct 05, 2010

Krista, next time that happens, just ask where they will be presenting thier first lecture or workshop on painting. If they say they don’t paint, shrug, say a quick “huh!” turn and walk away. Doubt that you have lost a potential customer. You had a successful weekend, that’s all you need to know.

From: Brian Bastedo — Oct 22, 2010

Krista is an incredibly gifted artist in our community, who has shared her experiences and supported my work as I continue to grow as a watercolor artist. I, too, have participated in Edmonton’s ArtWalk in the Old Strathcona district, and it’s not other artists who walk around making critical comments. Whenever even one artist bows out from an event like that, the whole community loses. Keep up the great work, Krista!

  Museums and galleries have different art by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA  

“Timeless Grace”
original painting
by Diane Overmyer

I once asked an area art museum director why my paintings were seldom accepted into their annual competition. That man knew me well enough to know that I primarily sell my artwork through several galleries, including one that I owned at the time. Most of the work that had been rejected out of those competitions later sold to serious art collectors. The museum director told me there is a difference between art found in museums and that which is in galleries. I stopped entering the competition for a few years, but then decided to give it one more try this year. Once again I entered pieces that I thought were strong enough to get into the competition and once again both of my entries got rejected. So even though my work has never been called disposable (at least to my face) I know how discouraging it is not to be taken seriously! There is 1 comment for Museums and galleries have different art by Diane Overmyer
From: Nina Allen Freeman — Oct 05, 2010

I am wondering who is choosing the art, this museum director, or someone they bring in who is unbiased? Competitions can be complicated things depending on who is running them. choose a different competition out of town.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Disposable art

From: Murray Clarke — Sep 30, 2010

Jill, I think this persons comments are a direct indication of this persons mental ability as I find the bright colour exciting and the subject matter thought provoking. Even if exposed to art works for long periods and boredom sets in try asking “what have I not seen”. Those that can’t see more may just not have what it takes to grow. Please keep up the good works….

From: Eric A. — Sep 30, 2010

” I paint with bright colors, imagination, whimsicality and joy.” That pretty much sums up why the curator would call it disposable. It’s possibly the kind of stuff that people buy to “brighten the room” or because “it’ll look good over the sofa.” I doubt that “wallet envy” plays much of a role. We all know painters who sell like crazy because they make unchallenging, forgettable pictures that are pleasant to look at but offer little in the way of insight. Sorry, but I’m one of the ones who think that even if a work is fun, pretty, or primarily decorative it really needs to be “serious” for me to give it more than a glance. (Ex. Hogarth, Brueghel, Matisse, etc.)

From: Dr. William Scott Wallace — Sep 30, 2010

I have only been painting for a few years myself; however in the work of my dissertation, I interviewed Western Landscape artist Alyce Frank, from near Taos, N.M. She is the founder of the modern landscape school, and I love her work for its simplicity, thoughtful use of vibrant colour and simple yet elegant forms. I see a wonderful use of colour, excellent composition in use of shape and symbol, and am very drawn to Jill Bukovnik’s work. Why a curator or gallery sales person would call such work disposable art is beyond me, but as Robert suggests, an issue of jealousy, lack of awareness, or some internal, unconscious projection put out by the curator. Look at the work of Paul Klee (“I once dreamt that I was a house, flying through space”), look at Wasily Kandinsky’s work, or the work of Marc Chagall, not to mention the plethora of post modernists, many of whose work looks like it was done by cats or dogs, dragging their paint covered tails across the canvas. Yet when we look carefully at their collective work, we see insights and reflections that give us a way without words to understand new thoughts, to perceive new feelings… Do Not Let Others Define You, Jill!!! Once while teaching for a small private college, I took the students on field trips, worked very hard to help them understand the coursework, and develop critical thinking skills. All of my international students gave me great ratings, but suddenly one student, who for what ever reason, I wasn’t able to connect, wrote under the question How would you improve this class? FIRE WALLACE!!! He (or she) went on to say it was the worse blow-off class that they had ever taken, and they got absolutely nothing from the course. My persona was so crushed, that all of the good from the other students didn’t matter, and and I ripped up all of the evaluation sheets, and threw them out. Today, years later, I would have reflected that I could not please everyone, and roll with the flow. “Consider the source…” as my old photography teacher, Kazik Pazovski, always said.

From: Paula Perry — Sep 30, 2010

Jill, pay no attention. Don’t just love it when people insult you to your face and expect you to smile and take it!?! I’ll bet your curator can’t paint a lick! Every successful artist has been attacked by these “art snobs” and “wanna be’s”. Paint what makes you happy, if it sells that is serendipitous.

From: Erin Prais-Hintz — Sep 30, 2010

I am not a painter but rather an artisan jewelry designer. And this sort of thing happens in all art media. At the gallery where I show my work, I just had a highly successful show. I make jewelry that is one of a kind, one at a time and I express a story in each piece. My show was called “Inspired by…” and featured 7 artists from the gallery who provided me with 11 works of their art. I then sent pictures of that art around the world to well known artisan bead makers to interpret that art. It was only when I got those beads and components back that I actually created each piece to be different from the last. I don’t just make pretty things that can be worn one season and not the next but jewelry that has a rustic and elegant flair to be cherished for years to come. I haven’t had this sort of thing said to my face, but I am expecting it to happen. There is a sort of professional jealousy in any art medium. We have an artist who does soft sculpture and whimsical 2D fabric art. Her show was very successful as well but yet there was another artist who didn’t agree that it was art. I find the wit and whimsy of art like yours refreshing, especially if there is a deeper meaning to be found in it. I completely agree that when fashion dictates art you have something that is so last season the moment you put it on your wall or drape it on your neck. I don’t let fashion dictate my jewelry designs but rather let the beads take me on a journey where they will. I can see that you have that same journey when you paint. Keep doing what you are doing because it is fun and refreshing and playful, something that the art world could use a bit more of. Enjoy the day! Erin

From: Hannah Pazderka — Oct 01, 2010

Lol – Jill, I’m a jewelry designer as well (strange to find two of represented here!) Anyway, I think what the curator said to you is both ludicrous and mean-spirited. Perhaps Robert is right; she is simply jealous. It’s easier to critique art than it is to produce it! I mention being a designer because I have also judged myself harshly compared to other students. I look at their elaborate fretwork and fancy engraved patterns, and feel inadequate. But at the end of the day, my work is simply different – it is modern, clean-lined, and simple compared to that intricate, fantastic work. Anyway, I was definitely feeling self-conscious, but then I realised – at the end of the day, I would never actually *buy* any of their work. It’s beautiful, for sure, but it simply isn’t to my taste. I design what appeals to *me*, knowing that if it makes sense to that (albeit limited) audience, there are others it will surely appeal to as well… So don’t run yourself down and don’t compare. There is simply no point. Do what moves you, do it well, and be proud of it. Your work will live on; your curator will, after all, be forgotten. All the best, Hannah p.s. I liked your goose!

From: Anna — Oct 01, 2010

Just wondering. Maybe this curator made her evaluation of your work based on it’s affordability? If you have chosen to sell many at low prices versus very few at high prices? People often catagorise art by it’s price and availability whether we like it or not. As artists we have to choose an approach to our art that suits our personality and circumstances best and run with it and if at all possible brush off the labels and judgements that are then put upon us. So long as YOU are happy with the work you do and the price you sell them for. You are obviously filling a need within your market very well indeed. Something to be proud of.

From: Jackie Fyers — Oct 01, 2010

A rainy, overcast morning in the South of England …… and then I went to click back and saw your paintings. They made me smile, I feel happier, lighter and ready for the damp challenges that the day may bring. Thank you.

From: Victoria on Okinawa — Oct 01, 2010

Disposable art, hmm…to me that means what you buy in frame at a discount store(though much of it can be very nicely painted and very nice art work) that costs maybe $20, the frame being the more valuable of the materials used. Industrialized, manufactured, assembly-lined art trivalizes the art work that may have been intended to be of great value for the artist involved. As for your art Jill, colors are nice and bright with energy and it is not manufactured so not disposable, just a matter of the taste of the buyer or collector is of importance. A communication attaction between the artist and the collector sets the purchasing value involved, which is truly unique and special to the ones who are involved.

From: Ted Duncan — Oct 01, 2010

All art is disposable.

From: Diane Hart — Oct 01, 2010

I am a bird lover and I find your work imaginative, lively and refreshing. It makes me smile. I don’t know much about curators but sounds like this one is what is “disposable” when it comes to your artwork. Keep up your good work.

From: Darla — Oct 01, 2010

Jill — obviously the curator picked your work to show repeatedly. That means she either likes it herself and/or acknowledges that a lot of other people do. There is still a meme around that art can’t be good unless it is gloomy — I call the typical black scribbles on a white or mud-colored ground “tantrums on a canvas” and am not attracted to them at all. Your art, on the other hand, is joyful and something a person might like to look at. I can’t see anyone throwing it away.

From: Elizabeth — Oct 01, 2010

I love this stuff. Sorry your curator is so lame. I have a little gallery in Jamaica & would love to have some of your work. Good luck, have fun, paint what you want & don’t lose any energy over thoughtless comments made for dubious reasons.

From: Robert Sesco — Oct 01, 2010

It is unfortunate that this comment was made because it has obviously affected you and will now live as an idea inside your artistic mind for probably the rest of your life; however, as difficult as it will be, look at this and other ‘critiques’ of your work with the dispassion they deserve. Aren’t all artists called upon to develop ‘thick skin’ when it comes to rejection or reviews? Your curator has provided you with a true opportunity to develop a thicker layer of skin. And if you wish, you can always take your art to another venue with a curator who does not view it in this way, although I believe this would be less than mature on your part. We all crave acceptance, but we all pay lip service to the independence of the creative spark.

From: Peggie — Oct 01, 2010

I love this Samuel Goldwyn quote: “Don’t pay any attention to the critics – don’t even ignore them.” Hard to do though.

From: Margaret Blank — Oct 01, 2010

I’m a textile artist who creates small quilts for hanging on the wall; I’m drawn to Jill’s use of colour and her sense of humour. The curator’s comment reminded me of the tendency to award more Oscars to dramatic actors and films, than to comedies — something that has plagued comic actors for years. I believe even Chaplin was lauded more for his comedic social commentary than simply for being funny and light-hearted. Sigh. That said, I agree with the advice to continue to create what you enjoy; if you create to please a “serious” public, your lack of enthusiasm will show in your work.

From: Pat Palermino — Oct 01, 2010

I think that the gallery owner is very small minded and not at all open in her view of art. Since I am also a “whimsical” folk artist who is not academically trained but who manages to sell lots of paintings and has survived a few recessions, I am empathetic about your reaction to the owners snide comment.Dr. Wallace is correct: “Do not let others define you, Jill”!

From: Lori Woodward — Oct 01, 2010

Jill, why a curator of a show would use the word “disposable” is beyond comprehension. No one has the right to downgrade an artist’s work in front of potential buyers. That’s counter-productive for the artist and the curator – who supposedly selected the art for the show. There is no such thing as disposable original art. People rarely dispose of originals – prints are not usually passed down as heirlooms, but as you can see on TV antique shows – everyone hopes their original art may be worth something, whether they respond positively to the work or not. Those words were meant to diminish your self confidence. Art is personal. Collectors buy what they can afford and what they love – no one has to justify why they love it. I agree with Robert, just ignore the critics. The worst thing is that this critic was curating your show. Shameful behavior on her part.

From: Janet — Oct 01, 2010

I don’t know how much you are selling your works for, but the gallery obviously has a good turn over on your work. After seeing your work, I would say that they would make great decorative peices for childrens rooms and thats OK, they are whimsical and colorful. If you were annoyed with the comment perhaps it struck a nerve!! and it’s time to take your creativity to another level.

From: Angelika — Oct 01, 2010

It comes down to the old debate between “high art” and “low art”. Dismissing the curators comments as jealousy is, I think, not helpful, because it locks you away into your ivory tower of “Oh, you just don’t understand me,” which prevents you from gaining insight from the experience. It sounds like the curator operates on a different value system than you do. She obviously values your work, or she would not repeatedly give you prime gallery space; but she seems to value it on a different level. You are offended by the term “disposable art” (which, I allow, is a rather unfortunate phrase; I’d be offended too), but perhaps for her that’s not an insult, just a statement of fact. Maybe there is disposable art that sells, and non-disposable art that hardly anyone buys, ever, and that languishes in basements from the start. Some would consider the latter “real art” (your curator seems one of them), but that’s open to debate. What you need to decide is what matters to you in your art, what is your “true north”: selling, giving people pleasure with your work, enjoying yourself as you paint; or being taken seriously by serious people doing serious work. It’s different for each of us, and only you can say what matters to you.

From: Steve Sunday — Oct 01, 2010

There are many artists who happen to make a lot of money simply because their work is excellent.

From: Judy Palermo — Oct 01, 2010

Jill, I hope you can in time forget the curator’s ignorant remark. I’m new to painting, and struggle with that question “what is art all about?”. So at first glance I looked at your work and saw flat, primary colors and simple drawings, like a greeting card, I thought. But it didn’t take me long to see the effort and care you put into the compositions; they have thoughtful shape relationships and complexity to them. One conclusion I have come to is that I admire the ‘rigor of discipline’ in a work. So I prefer your work over the huge, sloppy smears I see so much of in museums. Also your works carry a recurrent vision and style throughout- seeing them en mass strengthens that. Finally, upon studying your pieces I found myself thinking back to childhood times, to memories I haven’t thought of in years. So your art took me on a little journey- thank you!

From: Peggy Guichu — Oct 01, 2010

How rude. I love this art and it’s definitely not disposable. They need to dispose of this curator. I’ve considered my art must be disposable because it isn’t selling. Clearly, if you are selling your art, those people who are buying are spending their hard earned money, not disposable money to throw away. People are cruel and it’s a mean business. Ironic that being an artist isn’t for the meak, yet it usually takes a sensitive soul to create it. I had an art gallery decide that my watercolor paintings were disposable because they destroyed them to collect on their insurance. Now that would definitely be considered disposable art and it really didn’t feel good to me either. Your best defense is to continue making your beautiful art and selling it. Success is always the best response to those that try to squash you.

From: janet p — Oct 01, 2010

I think your art is wonderful and has a real folk art quality, which is hardly the same thing as being disposible. So the curator’s comment is inaccurate as well as insulting. Doubly so as the curator has presumably been benefiting materially from exhibiting art she doesn’t appear to respect. Having said that, part of being a professional is learning to shrug off all the dumb things people say when they encounter art that doesn’t conform to their own personal biases. If we’re in it for the love and adulation then both success and failure end up distorting our sense of self and our work. I agree with Angelika; figure out what your “true north” is and move forward accordingly.

From: Rene Wojcik — Oct 01, 2010

You are in rare company when you are able to sell your art. I’ve known many very good artists that never sold anything and then quit because of it. Enjoy your good fortune and use that as a spring-board to bigger and better art.

From: John Ferrie — Oct 01, 2010

Dear Robert, As an artist, you have to develop a thicker skin. Resolve yourself to the fact that 90% of the population won’t like your work. Of the 10% left over, only 5% can afford it. EVERYONE has an opinion and everyone has figured out what is right for artists whether they know them or not. This is troubling for an artist as we are always trying to express ourselves and always working beyond what people may already know. BUT, if some insipid woman referred to my work as “Disposable Art”, I would not be able to restrain myself. This is the type of person you see at all the gallery openings, gobbling up the cheese and having FAR too much wine. Then they shoot their mouth off and make reference to an artists work being the same as Ikea or the Gap. And because they are out at gallery openings they seem to think they know better. These people are usually never buyers either. The best thing to say is nothing. But of course what you want to say is she doesn’t know the difference between “shortcake” and “shine-o-la”… But that is just me. John Ferrie

From: Deb Sims — Oct 01, 2010

Ah, Jill, tell the old bat to vent her frustrations elsewhere! The artists I know would be doing the happy dance to have 5 shows that were also successful sales-wise! Your work is vibrant and light hearted and unique! Keep on doing what makes your brushes sing!

From: Lois Clarke — Oct 01, 2010

Your art makes me feel youthful and very happy. Go girl!

From: Ann — Oct 01, 2010

Angelica is right, I know some shady characters who would love a business model of creating something that people keep replacing, so keep spending money for. They would say that is a genious. Perhaps your curator has the same shady attitude and thinks that you are a business genius. In that case, she is not fit to be an art curator and her comments have nothing to do with a true critique of your art. She should be a sales clerk in a dollar store.

From: Pam Sims — Oct 01, 2010

I paint landscapes in a realistic and detailed style. I prefer to paint slowly indoors “en Stale Aire” in oils and egg tempera. I grind my own paints, glazes etc. I want to make strong paintings with emotion, symbolism and poetry. It’s not easy. I fail often. I get “Wallet envy” sometimes when I see fellow artists who succeed in painting, what I call “Wall decor” canvases, factory style. They use quick and easy gimmicks and bright trendy colours. And sell very well. But when I see one of their paintings for sale at a thrift store or garage sale, I smile all the way home in my rusty pickup truck. I have a black velvet still life painting screwed to the front door of my studio as a reminder.

From: oliver — Oct 01, 2010

I have often commented that too much art doesn’t belong on people’s walls. It’s depressing, doesn’t uplift and etc. If motivational perhaps it is only because you wind up hating the message communicated – Pictures depicting the Nazi Concentration camps or of the crucifixtion come to mind in this class. Much conceptual art or shock art comes to mind too – urine on crucifixes etc. Thy may have value but do they reach back to some of the original reasons for art. Decoraction, inspiration, education and joy – no? Most people, not all of course want things that don’t preach at them but move them or create a place to live and enjoy life. The balance of course is to create something that people love, but has the skill, technique etc to advance the arts. Whenever I hear things like too whimsical or fanciful I tell them go look at the Pre-Raphaelites, Marc Chagall and many others. If you enjoy it, your customers enjoy it and your curator sells it I think you are doing great – let history take care of itself!

From: Tatjana — Oct 01, 2010

This is great – nothing attracts readers to comment more than a story of an artist shunned by a dealer…well maybe a call to artists to say something about themselves. On the other hand, nothing seemed to be less commented on than a story of well off people on an expensive trip to the mountains. I think that the mean, jealous, and quite dumb comment by that dealer is not worth pondering about. I am more interested in the idea of “disposable art”. When I just started to paint I used to care a lot what would happen to my paintings. At some point I let go and now I only care about the next one I am going to make – I guess my paintings became adults in my mind. When I was a kid I filled many notebooks with drawings but I rarely went back to look at old stuff – nothing could beat the thrill of a new white page. One day I became aware that my old notebooks were used to light the fire and that I will never be able to see them again…that’s the story of my life, and I learned to deal with that. I think that you are right that people are reluctant to dispose of collected art – at least I am, I keep every darn cheap painting and poster I have ever bought in my life…and I am a person who disposes of other domestic stuff without mercy. I wonder what happens with all the art used to decorate corporate and sales venues – that must be huge mountains of stuff that came from someone’s artistic heart…does that all go to the landfills? Does anyone know? Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight! I suppose that only the pavement art, beach-sand art and such, are disposable by the nature of the medium, but they do often get photographed, filmed, and remembered. Oh yes, there must be lot of other perishable stuff like dung art, food art, meat art,…who knows what else…but I know little (enough) about that stuff.

From: Dan Young — Oct 01, 2010

Jill Bukovnik’s art is charming and gives the spirit a lift. The art center’s curator comment was nothing but cruel and shows a certain snobbishness. At 60 I still remember a seventh grade art teachers comment. The comment has outlived her! Jill could consider entering a license agreement to reproduce her art if she considers financial success as compliment. The work would reproduce well. There is great information online about how to negotiate a proper contract. I am always flattered when someone will lay out cash for my work, it is high compliment when someone will shell out their hard earned money to live with your art. Jill, there is room for everyone in the art world. I frequently get comments about my use of color. If you attempt to please everyone you will please no one. Your joy is more important than pleasing others.

From: Kittie Beletic — Oct 01, 2010

I have been to the mountaintop. My art is whimsical and filled with jewel-tones and always has a story to tell. It has been called childlike and fanciful and lighthearted. When I was first beginning to paint, I was painting greeting cards (small and timid expressions). A wholesaler saw my cards and asked if I could paint larger images for children on canvas and watercolor. Of course I can!, I said with glee. And so my commercial art career began. I did this for years, completely enjoying a reasonably lucrative return. “At least I’m not stuck in an office” was my joke to those who asked how my career was going. Then it happened. A major MAJOR discount store wanted thousands of my “baby fairies”. They only wanted 4 of the images, they had a fixed price point and to get the job, I had to work long, long hours for very little return. In my mind, I would get national exposure and add to my resume while getting paid. At least I wasn’t stuck in an office … The work was due and I found I had to solicit friends to help with a last minute request of the discount buyer to paint the sides of the gallery canvas, add purchased shipping corners and shrink wrap. sigh. Off they went. They … sold, yes. I got paid, yes. And yes, I made a special trip to several of those stores to see my paintings – each one hand done – on the shelves. I was proud of my work and I loved seeing them there. They were in the stores for 2 weeks and then they went on sale for almost pennies. Two weeks! It is this store’s policy that what they don’t sell in two weeks, goes on sale. Move that merchandise! There I stood, on the mountaintop, coming to grips with whether or not this was for me. There was no “exposure” beyond the two weeks. Children’s art is not always, ah, revered and often “disposable”. My middle man approached me for another order, this time dictating the subject, colors and medium. I realized, this wasn’t for me. All of this is to say – like most of us, my art reflects who I am at the moment I make it and although I love for people to love my artwork, it is not why I do it. If they want to dispose of it after purchasing it, it is their choice. If they choose to pass it down through the ages, how wonderful. My joy comes from the making. Every once in awhile, I hang something I make in my own home because it is so meaningful to me. Evident through Antique Road Show, even brilliant art has been stored in the attic and sold at garage sales for $5. In times of musing about those baby fairies, I imagine one of them, hanging over a crib in a nursery, and a little one squirming and cooing, smiling at the little fairy above her bed. That is where the connection lies … and the joy of it, for me.

From: Curtis Long — Oct 01, 2010

After seeing Jill’s artwork examples in your clickback, I have to say to her: Ignore the criticism! Her work may be primitive in style and “happy” in color and tone, but it is no more disposable than much of the more refined, darker, “serious” work that graces the walls of galleries. Her work feels genuine to me….that’s the main thing. And she should be happy that she’s selling, because these are difficult times for art sales. You are spot-on with your counsel.

From: shanzo — Oct 01, 2010

I think Jill’s work is whimsical, colorful, well designed and original. I would NEVER throw it away!

From: Jan Kuschner — Oct 01, 2010

Jill’s work wouldn’t be disposable in MY house. I LOVE it. It makes me happy and it’s fun to look at. There’s something new to see each time you view it. If it has to have a title maybe we could call it decorative art. Anyway you look at it, it’s colorful and fun and brings a smile. Don’t we need this now?

From: M Frances Stilwell — Oct 01, 2010

Jill’s art isn’t my style but I like it. We need whimsy today. Artists have a responsibility to lead, though I don’t think of that as I too follow my bliss. I’ve heard of disposable income before but never disposable art. What terrible things that curator said!

From: S. Knettell — Oct 01, 2010

Your work has charm and joy. That you paint what you love is evident. You also have a fearless and healthy disregard for contemporary critics and modes of painting. Good for you! My paintings are often dismissed by the critics for the same reason. Good luck, as if you needed it.

From: Theresa Bayer — Oct 01, 2010

Instead of “Disposable Art” I would call Jill Bukovnik’s work “Fun Art.” Fun Art has things in common with both illustration and with fine art, but I consider it to be a separate genre. Perhaps it is the illustrational aspect of Fun Art that has the curator mistaking it for disposable. Many illustrations are disposable, such as those found on packaging or in magazines. In 2008 I wrote the Fun Art Manifesto, and you can read it on my blog: http://tbarts.blogspot.com/2008/11/fun-art-manifesto.html

From: Popo Flanigan — Oct 01, 2010

“Throw away” comments like Jill’s curator’s are mean spirited. I hope Jill will tell this woman ( a curator, no less!) how her words unsettled the psyche of an artist. Jill is right on with her joyful renditions. The world embraces happy art especially at times like these!! Anything that brings people to “smileville” is OK in my book.

From: Andrea Hupke de Palacio — Oct 01, 2010

I always read your words with big interest and I love today’s post plus the Quotation about the skunk….. You seem to be a very wise person:) and able to communicate your wisdom too…

From: Elihu — Oct 01, 2010

Jill’s art might not be for the ages or museums, but it should be fun to have around; so I would not call it disposable.

From: Roger Buston — Oct 01, 2010

Disposable my rosy red. Jill’s work is heartfelt and uplifting and delightfully child-like in its innocence and unabashed delivery. Her work cheers and comforts me. The curator should be embarrassed..

From: Jean McDavitt — Oct 01, 2010

Jill, you could be grateful that your work is regarded as ‘disposable’. To me that indicates that it has been bought, perhaps on impulse, because the bright, happy colors spoke to the buyer. At the moment they bought it they needed that in their lives. Perhaps at a different time they were moved by another painting, maybe another of yours? Nothing in life is permanent. The average household has room for a few select art pieces. If we never changed or renewed them there could be no forward art movement. Rejoice in the fact that you bring happiness to many.

From: Kay — Oct 01, 2010

I think this person was rather mean to Jill. There are different levels of artistic talent. There is museum quality, excellent art and just commercial art. Other breakdowns too. Jill’s work looks very bright ,sunny and colorful like it might go in a sun room, kitchen or an informal room. It doesn’t seem to exhibit drawing skills but more pattern type art. Some people want this type of art so she should be happy about that and she must enjoy it so that in itself is happiness. It probably won’t end up in museums or be considered excellent as she doesn’t have the innate talent, schooling and perhaps not the time to devote to it. Kay

From: Ross Stewart — Oct 01, 2010

The curator is a very unwise skunk.

From: Terry — Oct 01, 2010

I just read this after hearing from my husband, that he does not like my “faces”. So, as I am sitting here crying because of his comment, I read about this whole situation. I also read about half the comments and then decided that maybe I should take the advise that I would actually give you. To hell with what everyone else thinks. Paint what you want to paint. If people are buying them, apparently there are others that like them. But, in the end, you only have to please one person………..yourself. Keep painting what you like and I will try to do the same!!

From: Mary Davis — Oct 01, 2010

Jill, a couple of your paintings would make beautiful needlework art. You should contact some shops and/or a needlework designer. I can see an opportunity for some great stitches in your work. And that is a compliment. Stitchers are always looking for inspiring items to stitch.

From: Patsy — Oct 02, 2010

Jill’s style is not my usual preference, but I’d hang that goose on my wall any day! I’m sure she must be feeling a lot better after reading all these supportive comments. The fact that her art sells so well tells me that the infinitely vast majority of us buy what makes us happy to look at. Ever hear the story of the cleaning woman at the gallery who cleared away a pile of rubbish some idiot had left in the middle of the floor, only to be fired for throwing out a valuable work of art? ;-)

From: Brenda Behr — Oct 02, 2010

What an insult! I’d love to hear Picasso’s response to the comment of this “curator”. Picasso, who took me a long time to appreciate, so admired the art of children, art painted with joy and with abandon, that his later work looked more like childrens art than the work he did in his younger years. His own recklessness is what I believe was instrumental in bringing his market to him. So I say, carry on Jill! I started painting “shoot from the hip” watercolors of people when I realized it was the best way to paint people in motion. Now I paint weddings. See http://weddingwatercolors.com I don’t guarantee anything when I’m hired to capture specific subject matter at a wedding. And I remind myself to ask, will a doctor or a lawyer guarantee anything? Some people may look at these looser-than-loose spontaneous watercolors as throwaways, but most of the people in the paintings recognize themselves, and many of the brides and grooms treasure them as heirloom paintings. Certainly, the eye of the beholder rule applies here.

From: Terrie Christian — Oct 02, 2010

I LOVE Jill’s work. Thank you very much for giving so many images of it! Last fall an atelier trained jurist told me I use too many colors. I took classes from him over 20 years ago, and he taught using the primaries to mix everything. I did that for about 15 years then got bored. I also branched out into abstraction and make up critters. I asked him if he had any idea how I created my shapes. He said no, he could not paint without having something to look at. I have been celebrating that ever since and sharing the story with glee. I felt I had “graduated”.

From: Lynne P Alexander Hollingsworth — Oct 02, 2010

Ah yes.. I have a friend who works in a home design store and she uses the same phrase, “disposable art” about work her manager wants. She suggest the artist photographs their art and then just goes to photo store and has the photo stretched over a canvas frame… prints to dispose of. It may be a ‘decorator’ viewpoint, or a designer of rooms aspect.. as in ‘when you change the drapes you can change the art’…

From: Kay Christopher — Oct 02, 2010

Right after reading your letter about “disposable art” I ran across this: “Never take action based on a single piece of random, unsolicited feedback. If you think that it’s at all accurate—positive or negative—go to people you trust and ask them what they think.” (Alan Weiss, Ph.D.) I think the key here is “unsolicited” feedback. www.kaychristopher.com

From: Thierry — Oct 02, 2010

Even some of Rembrandt’s work was criticized. One of his paintings was said to have “dung running down the canvas”. Chin up people; criticism is part of our chosen metier. Something about heat in the kitchen.

From: Victoria — Oct 02, 2010

Jill’s delightful artwork looks to me like what is often considered ‘folk’ art or ‘primative’ art. Grandma Moses did this sort of thing. If the curator thinks it is ‘disposable’, Jill might suggest she watch Antiques Roadshow and see the prices this kind of art goes for. The important thing here is, as many have echoed, what you think of what you do is what matters. And the people who enjoy it. Also, curators tend to be more disposable than art.

From: Joyce Barker 10-02-10 — Oct 02, 2010

Jill, I think your style of painting is unique. Isn’t that what we all want our work to be? It’s nice to have your work identified as yours. Everyone knows a Monet, Van Gogh, etc. It will be even prettier the more you create. Good luck in your career. Sell all the pieces you can.

From: Karalee Krueger — Oct 02, 2010

Your art shows an incredible imagination, terrific design sensibilities, and wonderful use of color. That sorta sounds like the definition of an artist. This curator is missing a spoke. Just imagine a world where all walls contained only “heavy art” with heavy themes. Don’t know about you, but I’d be a little depressed at the end of the day, especially if that’s what I come home to. A world of depressed people. We don’t have enough challenges? I always thought of art as being something that showed imagination, skill and effort that provoked thought or emotion. A smile is an indicator of emotion. The curator in question needs to pull some stuffing out of her shirt.

From: Laura Tovar Dietrick — Oct 03, 2010

I think that Robert is right on, Jill. Here’s a quote that you might find will give you some perspective: “One day seven years ago I found myself saying to myself, ‘I can’t live where I want to…I can’t go where I want to…I can’t even say what I want to…’ I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.” (Georgia O’Keeffe, 1923, taken from the Women’s Gallery wall in D.C.) So, let these comments go and laugh all the way to the bank. Tidewater, Virginia

From: Darla — Oct 03, 2010

Perhaps the term “disposable art” really is unique to decorators. I talked with one decorator who worked with a chain of decorating franchises, and she said they were only interested in buying prints or reproductions because of the cost. Or maybe it’s because they want to sell the homeowners a new print when they decide to change the drapes!

From: Terry Gay Puckett — Oct 04, 2010

If only we could buy a thick skin at the art supply store to protect ourselves from some art dealers, relatives, or others who make thoughtless comments that stick in our heads and make us doubt our talent and personal motivations. Let’s just stick to the path that our heart says to take, ans share with whoever is like-minded.

From: Joanne — Oct 04, 2010

Congratulations Jill on your successful exhibits and art sales. Keep up the good work! Your art is uplifting, happy and makes me smile and feel good (a daily goal of mine is finding many things to smile about). Sometimes we never know the motive behind someone’s remark about our art. Everyone has an opinion and that what is what makes the world an intertesting place. Keep creating what you love and know that many people enjoy your work. I’ve learned a long time ago it’s ok if everyone does not like my work, it is just an opinion. I love the remark that Terry states in the last post about buying a thick skin at the art supply store. I need to remember that when a less than positive remark is made about my artwork. Peace, Harmony and Happiness

From: Barbara Carter — Oct 04, 2010

As another comparison, disposable assets are those free for use — not tied up. Maybe?

From: Casey Craig — Oct 05, 2010

Jill,your work is joyful and uplifting, keep painting what you love. 5 solo shows and healthy sales…living well is the best revenge.

From: Rena Williams — Oct 05, 2010

”Keep calm and carry on.”

From: Tinker — Oct 05, 2010

All “art” and the value of it, is in the “eye of the beholder”.

From: Susan Kellogg — Oct 05, 2010

Just because our art is informed by our deepest emotions does not require our becoming emotional pin cushions!

From: Angelika — Oct 05, 2010

@Kay: “It probably won’t end up in museums or be considered excellent as she doesn’t have the innate talent, schooling and perhaps not the time to devote to it.” Excuse me? Did you look at that goose? Saying Jill hasn’t got talent is more offensive than the curator’s original remark! Jill obviously paints her cheery kid-style pictures because she *wants* to, not because she can’t do “better”. And she’s in good company (the aforementioned Picasso, Chagall, etc). It’s not a matter of talent, but of taste. And Jill’s got both.

From: Curator of Questionable Character!! — Oct 05, 2010

I apologize that the word ‘disposible-art’ has been taken out of context, and that it appears to be a harsh description of ART…and I am sorry that Jill has taken this description to heart. I have curated Jill’s art for several years, and enjoy her work immensely (and have purchased several pieces for gifts for my best girlfriends). Jill’s work makes me smile, right now I am looking at a piece that I purchased from her that sits in my office, and it still makes me feel good. Her work sells, especially to those who enjoy whimsical art, and I am happy that her work graces many happy homes and offices. But my term of ‘disposable-art’ is not a criticism, and especially not from a bitter curator. I have the best job in the valley, and enjoy the variety of art and artists that I get to work with. I see many forms of art, something for everyone. And I never criticize art as it is all created with a purpose and a heart. Sometimes it is necessary to describe art… ‘disposable’, ‘vintage’, ‘classic’, ‘functional’, ‘traditional’, etc, but these are only descriptive words and are not meant to hurt or criticize. So please don’t criticize me and take my comments out of context…know the whole story and the person before making your judgements. Good thing I have the support and confidence from a qualified Visual Artists Advisory Committee…

From: Ruben — Oct 05, 2010

Dear curator, you still didn’t enlighten us with what “disposable art” actually is.

From: Jim — Oct 05, 2010

@curator & Jill Ugh! Now after reading Curator’s passage I feel like you two need to make up! Curator just got bashed by a ton of artists and Jill may be feeling guilty about jumping to conclusions and stirring up this tempest by writing to Robert, who sent it out to the WORLD! None of this would have happened if at the moment the “disposable” comment was made either party had gathered her senses and took note. Curator, might not you have noted a slight hint of pain in one of your top sellers eyes after you made the comment? Jill, could you imagine yourself ever asking your promoter what she meant by that comment? You felt insulted by someone you had a record of doing good business with. Wouldn’t it have been possible to ask for a meeting with her to find out exactly what she meant? I hope you two mend this fence. It appears to be a terrible misunderstanding. Now, CURATOR, will you please tell us all what the heck you mean by “disposable Art?” In your post you only said that it’s useful to put art into categories, but you never explained how using a word most artists would find derogatory when describing their art is not an insult. How do you define “disposable art”? And don’t you think you could find a less offensive term? Artists make every effort to use archival materials and curators Come up with a category of art that is “disposable”? Can you explain?

From: Curator of Good Character!! — Oct 05, 2010

Thanks for comments so far. The opportunity for people to share their thoughts and comments is a great venue to think of things differently. I did not know that Jill was hurt by my comments, and that she has felt this way for some time now. An artist whom I curate sent me this link so I could be aware of what is going on. I do wish Jill had spoken to me to clarify what it was I was saying. And I hope that we will have the opportunity to chat some day. My role is to support the artists of our valley, with guidance from the Visual Artist Advisory Committee. Our art shows are Juried. I keep all comments from the Jury so that I can share with the artist what this eclectic group is saying. The term ‘disposable-art’ may have come from one person on this Jury, it was noted and I repeated it. Again not to hurt anyone, this is certainly not my character. Ok, disposable-art…coming from a disposable generation, where most ‘things’ are disposable, grown-tired-of, discarded, outdated etc, there are items that have a shelf life. Like the vehicles we drive, clothes we wear, furniture we enjoy, hairstyles even!! Some art for instance have a life of their own. We’d be lucky to have a piece or two, some are in museums or are part of collections. Some art is functional like pottery. Some art is purchased to decorate our livingrooms, like a centrepiece. Other art reminds us somewhere we have been…meaningful art. And sometimes we purchase a piece that makes us smile for awhile. Perhaps that piece will move throughout our homes and lives, sometimes in a special spot, the next time in the hallway. And then it may end up put away and pulled out for a quick ponder and then put away again. Its meaning only special to that person. IT was only a term or a word, and again not meant to label, hurt or discourage anyone. I ENCOURAGE Jill to continue with her passion, she is a great person and a wonderful artist that puts smiles on peoples faces…isn’t that what we all strive for, either in our art, character, personality, actions… This is all I want to say about this. I hope that Jill continues to grow as an artist…

From: anon — Oct 05, 2010

Well, this is a great lesson that we always have to stand behind our own words and actions. Talk is usually cheap, but on occasion can cost you a business partner or worse a friend.

From: Janet Badger — Oct 05, 2010

A painter friend of mine told me I’d never be successful with my “little black things.” I am a printmaker, working in etching and linoleum, and a lot of my things are small and yes, black and white. But I have to be who and what I am. A printmaker, not a painter.

From: Angus — Oct 05, 2010

Sounds, by the last line, like our curator is hoping Jill will grow out of her “disposable’ period. This is all she wants to say about it. Right. Her foot is pretty far down her throat already. Besides, somebody else said it and she was just quoting. Wow.

From: Judy — Oct 06, 2010

Personally, I would not have anything further to do with an art representative who called my art ‘disposable’. If Jill’s art sells well with this curator, it should also sell well with another organisation. It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to understand that the word ‘disposable’ is negative and insulting, while ‘whimsical’ or ‘cheerful’ is positive and in keeping with the other descriptive words used by the curator (vintage, classic, functional etc.) to describe original art. Please, let us keep our respect and integrity, and also not contribute to promoting a society where everything is so quickly ‘disposable’ – we have enough garbage in the world as it is.

From: anon — Oct 06, 2010

Someone suggested to just “redefine the word” and all will be ok – LOL, so if someone tells you your art is crap, use definition “fertilizer” and stay positive!

From: jill bukovnik — Oct 09, 2010

First of all I want to thank everyone for taking the time to write all your comments. I was stunned. You Rock!! Now, I must say that I took nothing out of context. “Disposable Art” was always followed up by you making a comment on your inexpensive jewelry you make. You said you didn’t expect people to keep it forever, they will throw it away when they get tired of it. The last show I had, you said this to my face, as you turned around and pointed to a very large metal sculpture with a high price and said ” this is serious art that someone would hang over their fireplace and keep forever”. The second time was over the phone when I was asking your advice in pricing my pieces. You said ” keep the prices low or people may not buy them. They may not pay a larger sum because it’s not serious art. It’s more like, they will hang it till they get tired of it and then they will throw it out. It’s more like “Disposable Art” like the jewelry I make and sell at craft fairs. I mark them low knowing that the jewelry will be worn for a while and then thrown away”. The first time you called it ”Disposable Art” ,with your jewelry example, I hung up the phone and called my niece, who is an artist and used to sell her paintings at this gallery. She was shocked that you would even say that to any artist you were dealing with. So, I’m very aware of what you said and what you meant. If it was the Art Council who made that comment, then you should have said that and then “quoted” exactly why they said it. I doubt very much that the arts council used your jewelry as an example. I chose not to show my 2010 paintings because the prices would be encouraged to stay the same. Even though a lot of people smile, reminisce , laugh, walk slowly around and actually ‘look’ at what is on the canvas and yes… some do buy. They usually say “How did you come up with that idea?” Ideas are all around us, you can’t stop ideas from coming. Last note to the Curator. You’ve always treated me fair and have always encouraged me. However, you have to know when to stop talking and pay attention to what you’re saying.

From: Joy Foxworthy — Oct 10, 2010

I paint landscapes that stylistically come out somewhere between the Barbizon work, and early 20th Century US impressionism. However, the work on my office wall was called “folk art” by a bad photographer (technically deficient, he was) and “not much” by a historical re-enactor with anacronistic buttons on his tunic. It’s always like a splash of cold water in the face, but, as with all criticism (which was what was intended, I believe, in the firstt case as well), you check for validity, you check the bonafides of the critic, then you pack it away for consideration, or you toss it out the window of your moving train. In any case, don’t let the slap linger in you mind after it’s no longer felt on the cheek.

From: Paddy — Oct 11, 2010

No one can predict whether a buyer will treasure a piece for a lifetime or will shortly dispose of it. It’s not always about price or materials. That curator has a strange agenda, she was rude, and she has yet to apologize.

From: jill bukovnik — Oct 11, 2010

My letter to Robert was asking him two questions. Why did he think ‘disposable art’ was applied to my art.. and… what is ‘disposable art?’. I went online at first to find my answer to the second question. However, I respect Robert’s years of knowledge and success. I receive all of Robert’s twice weekly letters. So, I trusted him with the answers. I have wonderful friends and even my daughter who say my style of painting isn’t for them. I laugh because I know it isn’t and that’s ok. I don’t expect anyone to love everything… we all have our own taste and ideas of what makes us happy. My spouse doesn’t love everything I do but he knows that what I paint is true to me. The fun and enjoyment and even the ‘high’ comes from painting for myself. The bonus comes if someone else likes them, enjoys them, and the paintings makes them smile or brings some joy into their lives. The surreal part comes when someone buys them.Regardless, I’m a happy camper because I’m so lucky to do what I love. I’d like to say to ‘Jim’ that I feel no guilt, I didn’t jump to any conclusion and I wasn’t stirring up ‘this tempest’ by writing to Robert. I was told why the comment was said and no, there was not a misunderstanding.Yes, the comment took me by surprise and I did think about it for quite awhile to try to put myself in the curators shoes to understand why it was said. But, I could never figure it out and wanted to move past it. Robert has answered my questions and to him I say “thank you”. I bet he never thought it would turn out this way by taking on a life of it’s own.

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Oct 12, 2010

Jill, I think it is because what you wrote struck a deep chord in many of us, and each responded from that personal perspective — related in some way to your question but not necessarily reflecting it. It is, for that very reason, an important question, and the way it played out is an important lesson (your curator perhaps excepted, though how are we to know, since the answer to that is strictly up to her). I am personally happy to see your works. They are both full of whimsical life and technically adept. Yes, you will grow, because you are an artist, but I hope you never lose that unique sense of color and pattern. It is beautiful. Me, I can’t seem to stop painting mountains. I finally gave in, and began painting them in bright colors and shapes. What fun and what fulfillment. I paint other things, but I have a feeling that the mountains will have guided me somewhere I need to go. Thanks for the lesson. Oh, Robert, you changed from numbers to distorted letters that I have such difficulty with!

From: Anna — Oct 14, 2010

Go Jill!!! I like your 2nd to last note. Well said, and to the point. The fact the Curactor has told you TWICE that you do disposable art does tend to ring alarm bells – softening the blow by likening your art to hers is a very transparent attempt to appear on your side (it’s the push you over then help you up approach – all the while smiling sweetly). And I’ll bet she knows damn well that “disposable art” would be taken as a negative, everyone I know can work that out. All I see is some frantic back pedalling on her part. Sometimes people get a little rude as they get higher up the ladder within their industry. Take that Gordon Ramsay for example – what a horrible example of a human…

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 27, 2010

In all fairness and not being politically correct, there is much disposable art out there. Work done by those who wish to be artists and have a long road ahead of them or who should keep there work on their own walls. If we artists wish to be honest and do honest work we also have to be willing the suffer the slings and arrows when we present inferior “disposable” work to public scrutiny. Understand, when I started painting 40 years ago, I too, forced my work onto the public and put work out there I should not have. Times have certainly changed. As I see it, we all want to noticed for something. The current climate of “reality” shows is evidence of this. We no longer have any sense of propriety about who we are or what we do and show no compunction about airing our private lives in public and are surprised when we get negative feedback. Inferior work like private issues should be kept private. I don’t condone the curators remarks even if she truly believes them. Her misstep in my mind was verbalizing it to the artist. The artist on the other hand should be grateful that the curator still felt the work was good enough to be displayed in her gallery. As much as artists want recognition and publicity, we have to be more discerning about what we show and be willing to know we set ourselves up for ridicule when we do. There are places and galleries at many levels of “quality” and “expertise”. Know that if you are a local artist with limited experience, to show locally. National fame and recognition come with time, experience and quality work. Unfortunately, art is a business, at least for those who handle our work. I believe there is a buyer for ever good artwork created from one dollar to a million dollars. Criticism is part of the game. Don’t succumb to it, embrace it and it makes you stronger. Forget about it and work to do your best work from the heart. You will not be loved by everyone no matter how hard you try. Work to please yourself and be realistic about where art’s importance is in this society.

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Two Photo Reconns

oil painting by Dave Paulley, Osage, WY, 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 Joseph Jahn of Nibe, Denmark, who wrote, “Always make art that is so good it cannot be thrown away. It’s your way to snub death and the unfathomable world of art promotion.” And also John Fitzsimmons of Fayetteville, NY, USA, who wrote, “I think all art should have an expiration date stamped on it. After that you consume it at your own risk.” And also Haim Mizrahi of East Hampton, NY, USA, who wrote, “To ask you about it after the fact suggests that Jill suffers from low self-regard and weakness. Stand your grounds for God’s sake.”    

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