An under-recognized artist

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Robert Revak Dublac of Unionville, Connecticut wrote, “I am an under-recognized artist. It’s a frustrating time of my career. I’m astounded how arrested our culture has become. There doesn’t seem to be any concept of art evolving from representational to abstract. Museums are even giving Impressionist painting classes. My sales started to drop in the mid-’70s, just as my work became stronger and more substantive. Galleries no longer choose artists with conviction; they’ve become art shops. Fortunately the granting programs have been most generous through the years, but they too have their financial challenges. Even “Art in America” has become appalling! The imagery looks like something from my design classes in the ’60s! I need to find exposure or a gallery affiliation. At present I’m in a backwater — just vegetating.”

oil painting
by Robert Dublac

Thanks, Robert. Robert Dublac is a victim of the tides that ebb and flow in fashionable art. Robert is right; there is a significant return to varieties of representational work. The tide could just as easily turn again. Many art schools during the ’60s and ’70s disdained realism and favoured the kind of work Robert still does. The result is an overabundance of abstraction and thousands of disappointed painters who are unable to secure grants and now find themselves driving taxis.

“Poppies Alecon”
oil painting
by Robert Dublac

Artists need not be so appalled when they understand the fickle nature of the art market. Under-recognized they may be, but the bandwagon of the ’60s turned out to be the stalled donkey-cart of today. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s often abstraction that now seems old fashioned. Part of this change came about because of the facile nature of a lot of ’60s abstraction. Collectors demanded more than imagination. They wanted something that appeared to them to have more skill and meaning. They wanted to connect. Conservative these collectors became, and they began to trust history more than the new “wunderkind.” More than anything, dealers and critics wanted something they could talk and write about. Backwater? Vegetating? It’s been my quiet but persistent observation that the most anti-creative pills an artist can take are, “Poor me,” “Art has gone to pot,” and “The world owes me a living.”

“Winter loveaaaa”
oil painting
by Robert Dublac

Best regards, Robert PS: “Fashion wears out more apparel than the man.” (William Shakespeare) “It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.” (Oscar Wilde) Esoterica: We’re not about to give up on abstract art just yet. Abstraction still has so much more to explore, and so much more to contribute, even in our pursuit of great realism. With its brilliant combination of an inner and an outer life, abstraction is also the one genre that adds true magic to surfaces and even thrives in photographic-based techno-art. Abstractionists of the world arise; we have not yet begun to paint. “Abstract Art is part of the constant change and vital searching that energizes every true art.” (Leonard Brooks)   Time to explore by Bobbo Goldberg, Orlando, FL, USA  

digital painting
by Bobbo Goldberg

Sorry that Mr. Dublac has such a sad view of the world. But his description of himself as “under-recognized” gives rise to a couple of questions. By whom is he under-recognized? Based upon what standard or expectation of recognition? What does he desire or interpret as recognition? If it’s sales or gallery acceptance, which is what it seems, then he might view this as a challenge to the commercial desirability of what he’s painting. No offense intended and no critique of his paintings should be inferred; I’m not qualified for that. But if you’re painting in a certain style, in a “backwater,” while “vegetating,” and aren’t in a gallery because they’re “art shops,” what is one to expect? Maybe the gentleman needs to get over his somewhat petulant conclusions and be more willing to explore what’s behind this lack of recognition.   Don’t complain by Deborah Elmquist, Port Orange, FL, USA  

“Luscious Lemons”
oil painting
by Deborah Elmquist

Robert Dublac’s perspective about his work and the current state of art is an all too common discussion. I live in the other camp of defending classical realism and art that is created out of finding beauty in everyday life. What has helped me to live in the fickle world of art since the ’60s is to step back and look at it from its theory and historical content. I recommend two online videos that give both sides of this issue. Both can be found on my website under Links or you can Google each. The first is Scott Burdick’s presentation at Laguna Beach for the Weekend with the Masters event entitled “The Banishment of Beauty.” The other is a presentation entitled “When Art Became Ugly.” Robert Dublac obviously paints the way he does because it feeds his soul. I applaud anyone who continues to stick with what they believe is true and right. But don’t complain. To loosely quote St. Francis…”Strive to understand rather than to be understood.” There are 4 comments for Don’t complain by Deborah Elmquist
From: Michael — Apr 04, 2011
From: Kathleen J. — Apr 07, 2011
From: Deborah Elmquist — Apr 07, 2011

Michael, I will certainly check out your recommendation for a future read. Kathleen-I’m please that you took the time to watch the entire video. Knowledge is power and if I do say so, helps my blood pressure when I start getting upset at the art world.

From: rh206 — Aug 16, 2012

Derivative and irrelevant works of art aren’t going to be recognized. Originality taps into something fresh, new and undiscovered. If you want to make safe art that only satisfies your own soul and doesn’t challenge the viewer then who cares? Looking at the samples of Roberts work, they would look great above a couch as decoration. Boring and irrelevant work is going to go unnoticed so don’t complain.

  Right on time by Terry Mason, Sarasota, FL, USA  

“Myakka Spring”
original painting, 11 x 14 inches
by Terry Mason

Contemporary art is now representational. It’s what’s happening. When I tried to learn painting in the ’70s at one of the finest art schools in the nation, it was “Anything goes” and “Who needs skills?” I went through four years without anyone mentioning the word “value.” It wasn’t pretty. When I went back to paint, I found an atelier-trained person who had my same experience but was ahead of me in finding out how to paint, really paint. Finally, I learned to paint and I’m still learning. Now I watch with great eagerness the unfolding drama of representational painters taking the center of the stage and more of the money and exposure. Does this mean that abstract art is dead? No, there is always a lovely circle of both. But right now, I am watching a great drama unfold despite a recession as representational painters become the contemporary art of this time. And it is right on time.   Keeping a balance by Tommy Barr, Banbridge, N Ireland  

original painting
by Tommy Barr

For me, standing in front of the easel is a balancing act, as I respond completely intuitively to the developing icon. With every stroke of paint I am making a decision on each of six balances. In effect getting the balance I require between: Recklessness and craftsmanship Reality and abstraction Texture and finish Completeness and space Symbolism and vagueness Movement and stillness I find that if I can achieve a good balance in all six, I have something worth keeping. If an icon is a failure, I can usually see why by checking these balances. I don’t concern myself much with all the other stuff — perhaps they are subsets of these headliners. Or perhaps different styles have different needs. For example, folk musicians don’t get concerned about rhythm and rappers don’t worry much about harmonies. It works for me. I can only keep so many balls in the air.   Justly ‘under-recognized’ by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA  

“Thunder Hill Explosion”
pastel painting, 8 x 10 inches
by Paul DeMarrais

Mr Dublac’s stance is to say the market is too dumb to understand his sort of painting. This elitism is very common with abstract painters. We’re all too dumb to ‘get it’ and if we don’t get it, it’s due to our ignorance and lack of sophistication. Thirty years ago it would have been the traditional painter singing a sad tune of rejection. Traditional painters had to weather the storm and carry on until the tastes of the market changed. Dublac needs to buck up and do the same. Why should grants be provided so artists can create work no one cares to see? I think artists cannot just cry and moan when they refuse to adapt to the market. We are all involved in marketing if we intend to make a living at painting. Art schools in the sixties cranked out thousands of untrained abstractionists and still send them out by the trainload. Overall, quality suffered and worse yet, the sense of what quality was in this style of painting became blurred. The public, in the end, rejected much of abstract painting as Manhattan lobby art for over the modern couch. Oddly there is a current trend and a niche for abstract work in many of the mainstream galleries, but the work has to be truly special to grab hold. If it’s not, it is going to be “under-recognized”!   What the world needs now by Carol Weiss, VA, USA  

“Two swans”
original painting
by Carol Weiss

Thank you for sharing Robert Dublac’s work. I mostly paint representational landscapes but would love to move in a more abstract direction and it is hard to find that kind of work to see, so I really appreciate seeing his work — his passion is quite inspiring to me. That said, I’m wondering if the reason that abstract is out of favor now has something to do with our aging society, the emergence of a peace-seeking organic/spiritual subculture in the face of a worldwide 24/7 explosion of passionate violence. What I am trying to say is that art often gives people what they want but don’t have. In the ’50s and ’60s/’70s we were looking for energy. Drawn to the creation of chaos, we wanted to tear down the old and restructure society. I think the abstract projected our desire for that. Now that we are older and can barely stand to turn on the TV, we are looking winsomely for that peaceful (and quickly disappearing) landscape or memory we barely noticed when we were young and rebellious. I most love Dublac’s more serene and somewhat less geometric river scenes. They are the perfect combination of abstract and a touch of representational. There are 5 comments for What the world needs now by Carol Weiss
From: Delores Hamilton — Apr 04, 2011

Lovely swans.

From: Anonymous — Apr 05, 2011

I agree I liked the river scenes the best, “abstract with a touch of representational”. I’m forty and have a masters degree in art. I love abstraction, but need that little “touch” of realism to connect me personally to the art.

From: Sandy Haynes — Apr 05, 2011

I love what you had to say about our taste in art being related to our current negativism in society. We are innundated with constant alerts to our problems from global warming, economic failures, religions of hate across the globe, natural disasters, too. I also think that the peaceful realistic images give comfort, to a degree, to those who want a bit of restful memory of the simpler past.

From: Anonymous — Apr 05, 2011

I am 83 yrs old and didnt start painting till I was 70. Started with watercolour realism and changed gradually to abstract. I live on a small island and actually sell quite a few paintings. My painting usually have a theme and something in them people can relate to. And abstract isnt as easy as some people think. But for me it is still fun Jean

From: Lorrene Baum-Davis — Apr 05, 2011

Carol… I do believe you ‘hit the nail on the head’ with your statements…. What are we looking for in life? As an artist I have all kinds of art in my home because I see the ‘beauty’ and ‘creativity’ in all art. But…. the consumer, I agree, is just a part of the culture we have had and DO live in. Thanks.

  An artist’s three choices by Skip Rohde, Asheville, NC, USA  

oil painting, 16 x 12 inches
by Skip Rohde

I think the vast majority of artists would put themselves in the category of “under-recognized.” We’re all individuals and what we create may or may not fit into the current hot style. There are three alternatives: find the niche where your art might be recognized, create what people want to buy, or find another source of income. If the first alternative isn’t big enough, you’ll have to do the second or third, anyway. That’s the boat I’m in. I am driven to paint strong images that people appreciate but nobody buys: injured warriors, the stress of deployments, and people and landscapes affected by war. I seem to be genetically incapable of painting pictures just to sell. So I’m going back to work full-time. Not only will this pay my bills, it frees me up to paint what I must paint. And I’ll continue to be a happy, under-appreciated artist. There are 2 comments for An artist’s three choices by Skip Rohde
From: Gabriella Morrison — Apr 04, 2011

Well and wisely stated! And a great attitude. Chances are your work might just outlive the calculated images which many artists feel will make them money, or apply competencies which the buying public reveres. It is not perfect confections which, tasty though they might be, populate historical collections, or the arc of art history.

From: Hugo — Apr 05, 2011

Skip, I understand where you are coming from. I sketch because I have to — not because I want/need to sell something. When I was painting I was working hard to sabotage my technical career. With some luck, and maybe an open mind I got turned on to printing. Today I value the full time technical work I do because it affords me choices, buying the expensive equipment I need for producing my art — and going in a direction I set. It feels good when you can be true to yourself! And I really respect your work.

  Be flexible; be creative by Brenda Swenson, South Pasadena, CA, USA  

“Vista Del Arroyo”
original painting
by Brenda Swenson

In times of weak economy and shifting tastes, we need to remain creative. Sometimes this creativity may take on the form of finding new ways to keep our art in the public eye and generate income. I am represented by two galleries, hold signature status in numerous societies, participate in national exhibitions, have a website, blog and still, I need to do more. I do not consider myself a writer but I have a voice when it comes to talking about my art. I have found creative expression in writing about my artwork for magazines. I instruct workshops nationwide and abroad. When I first began, I thought all I had to do was be a good painter. How wrong I was! I have learned to be flexible, and creative in other ways. This process has worked for me and I am so busy I do not have time to feel sorry for myself. This journey has taken me down many different roads, all of which I have come to enjoy. There are 3 comments for Be flexible; be creative by Brenda Swenson
From: Silvia Forrest — Apr 05, 2011

What a lovely painting!

From: Anonymous — Apr 05, 2011

Great color scheme, powerful triad ! wow, really nice painting !

From: Suzanne Tillman — Apr 05, 2011

Your work expresses your energetic and creative approach to life. Your painting and your approach to life are inspiring.

  Choose to be unknown by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark  

original painting
by Joseph Jahn

Ha, I started painting in a backwater and still live and paint there. Money and Art are in NYC, Berlin, Paris or London. Painting is in your head, wherever you are. Maybe you’re tired of your own art? These times are no representation of a robust art market that will take on all comers. Today is a real pick-and-choose market with masses of choice on the low end of the scale, with supermarket art and pastime artists selling weekend work for a penny an inch. You cannot think about money and art; it’s a modern myth. Painting today is choosing to be unknown; it’s part of the job description. Needed to Make Money: Luck, a patron, a gallery with trust, heart, and patience. Otherwise stop painting or paint for your own pleasure and need. There are 4 comments for Choose to be unknown by Joseph Jahn
From: Anonymous — Apr 05, 2011

what a stunning abstraction!

From: Judy Lalingo — Apr 06, 2011

Yep. As I’m sure I’ve probably said before, this is a quote from a well known painter when I asked his advice about marketing. “If you want to be a painter, then paint. If you want to make money, then become a plumber.”

From: Joseph Jahn — Apr 08, 2011

Yes a plumber or a construction engineer and business man (my BIO). I did all my *money things* in the first part of my life. The *money jobs* and traveled the world on a corporate expense account till I was Gauguin’s age (mid 30’s)….Then I dumped it all and started to paint. Worked out fine…..I hate poverty.

From: Liz Reday — Apr 12, 2011

Finally a voice of sense and intelligence! Joseph, your work is magnificent and your words are honest and wise. Artists need to be devoted to their art and need to read up on all the art showing in the galleries all over the world. Some artists are unaware that their lack of sophistication and knowledge of art history and world art market trends are blindingly obvious in their reactions. Belonging to art clubs and writing in art magazines does not an artist make. Read and paint.

  In praise of abstraction by Lynda Lehmann, NY, USA  

acrylic painting
by Lynda Lehmann

If we are going to discuss the validation of art by virtue of “skill” or “meaning,” we have to give abstraction a fair shake. To my way of thinking, abstract art is more interesting (if not more beautiful) than realism, because it presents a visual experience that has no precedent in reality. It presents something totally new and is its own reality. Realism refers to a single point in time and space even when it is arresting, compelling and speaks to universals. But abstraction can be richly layered and full of ambiguity and mystery that yields fresh nuances of visual experience with each viewing. To me, abstract art comprises a rich, multi-dimensional experience because it doesn’t cater to the constraints of time and place. The new visual experience it presents is of value in and of itself, and does not require a literal meaning in the usual sense. As a matter of fact, it may call on the viewer to be a more active participant in the viewing, because it reaches beyond our usual scope of perception and lends itself to the subjective reality of each viewer. Art does not need to refer to political or religious ideologies, or even the continuum of human emotions and experience, to garner its meaning. It simply is, and therein lies its meaning. And to me, abstraction is very compelling in its visual (and emotional) richness. As for the “skills” part of the equation, Kandinsky (among others) manifested a high level of both imagination and skill that many realists don’t possess. Good abstraction is difficult to achieve, often involving both concept and great discipline that match or exceed many realist paintings. Abstract art is often devalued because, to many people, it “looks” easy. There are 3 comments for In praise of abstraction by Lynda Lehmann
From: David Matthew Parker — Apr 05, 2011

Wow. That was beautifully written.

From: Geo — Apr 05, 2011

Looks just like the forest floor in my November painting. How real is that?

From: Lynda Lehmann — Apr 05, 2011

DAVID – Thanks for reading and I’m glad it resonated with you. GEO – Where can I see your painting?

  Stamina to float your boat by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands  

oil painting
by Robin Shillcock

As a budding artist, I grew up in an extremely anti-realism in art atmosphere in Netherlands. Officially, representation and illusionism in contemporary art was dead, but not if you wanted to exhibit a trash stood up on three bamboo poles “as a comment on modern society” and that kind of crud. I went to a traditional art academy, one that got down-the-nose-looks from all involved in the “new revolution” that was supposed to wash away all that was staid and passé: illusionistic art. Abstract and conceptual art became the official art. Artists working in those fields were getting all the state subsidies as well as all possible corporate funding. I felt myself like a latter-day Impressionist, looking up at the bastion of a modern version of iron-fisted Academism. It gave me a somewhat cynical regard of the whole art market, but it gave me a tough hide, too. (I believe we artists need a thick skin, be it one with pores that lets in all that nourishes our art but keeps out all that pollutes our sensitivities.) In 1980 I cast myself against this tidal wave, trying to make my small mark as a professional artist in a climate that favoured non-representational art. I was not alone of course; there were hundreds of artists out there, some floundering, others enjoying the solitude of backwaters. Somehow we found each other, we got together to talk, show our work, and complain about the way things were deteriorating. It was great for a puppy like me to spar with older, experienced artists. We gave and got support, advice, ideas and basically we had a good time. Sometimes I pine for those “us” against “them” years. But boy, it was lean times to strike out as an inveterate realist painter! It was grand to see the first cracks appear in the abstract/conceptual bastion in the late-1990s. Within a few years the fissures widened until the bastion simply crumbled in on itself. I think you were gentle with Mr. Dublac, Robert. I would have responded more stridently: stop griping and get on with it! Yes, the art market has changed, it has become tougher, more businesslike, and there are a lot of sharks out there. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. But culture has not become arrested. It’s in full flow even if the current has changed direction for some artists. Perhaps it’s you who has run aground. You sound like a person who has shed ideals, or simply lost them along the way. If your boat won’t float, get out and shove it across the sandbar you’re on. The lesson I learned in those years of sometimes bitter adversity is that what impassions people like us is never at a standstill. It may follow a circuitous route that is hard to follow but it develops, inexorably. You might not see it at first. Rub your eyes and look again! Personally, I’m totally uninterested in abstraction in art, except where pure and beautiful decoration is concerned. It is simply an element in painting, nothing to go bananas about. I do believe artists working in different approaches have a part to play in making contemporary culture as diverse as possible. You do need some stamina to float your boat and get it over the rough stretches.    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for An under-recognized artist

From: John Ferrie — Mar 31, 2011

Dear Robert, It is challenging to read this letter of someone who is trying desperately to follow the trends and bends in the art world. The best thing this artist is doing is contributing to the culture. To try and follow culture is like trying to capture light with a butterfly net. The thing about Art in America (Or Art Forum or Art News) is these magazines show a few obscure artists that non of us have ever heard of and some incomprehensible critiques written by people who claim to know better. Museums are only teaching “impressionist” classes so they can have some revenue due to ailing ticket and membership sales. And galleries are turning more into framing shops with a gallery space. Several of the big guns in my city have closed this month. I am opening a new exhibition next week. This collection is the largest exhibition I have ever done, 30 paintings in all. I must have ten years of Art Forum and Art in America magazines lined up like soldiers in my studio. I have not cracked open one of them to see what the culture could possibly dictate. Nor have i visited a gallery to see what is selling or not selling these days. At a certain point artists have to throw out what is the current attitude, be it realism, point-alism or art of the absurd and just do art of quality. As the key to true creativity is to work beyond what anyone already knows. John Ferrie

From: Gavin Calf — Mar 31, 2011

Hi Robert, I consider your work stands among some of the best that I see here in South Africa, but I know exactly how you feel. Ignore RG’s ‘poor me’ comment. Feelings visited and honoured make better art than those that are denied. We all have Eyore moments. Its part of the deal being an artist. I hope this helps. Kind regards, Gavin Calf

From: Dale Goorskey — Apr 01, 2011

I agree Robert, My worst enemy is a bad attitude and it shows in my art. The customer is able to perceive this and feels a thumb in the eye. “A chip on the shoulder indicates that there is wood higher up.” (Jack Herbert)

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Apr 01, 2011

Robert Dublac’s feelings are shared by many of us in our low moments. However, neither painting what the public wants nor feeling sorry for ourselves is useful. If you are painting what you love and it is good, the public will appreciate it. Also, I think where you live is no longer a limitation for artists; your energy level and how much you are willing to put yourself out there is. The opportunities are limitless but they involve applying yourself, research, sending off proposals, travel and shipping art. Opportunities won’t come to you. Actually, on the realism/abstract thing, I find that my abstract pieces sell better than my realistic pieces. I don’t know whether artistic tastes are changing or I do them better.

From: Darla — Apr 01, 2011

Robert Dublac was complaining about being “under recognized” and that “There doesn’t seem to be any concept of art evolving from representational to abstract.” His art may be more substantive and meaningful to HIM as it becomes more abstract, but it’s not necessarily more meaningful to anyone else. For art to say something, doesn’t it have to have some connection to the viewer? Without the symbolism and depiction of realistic art, abstract art has to depend on purely visual tools to convey its meaning. That’s very difficult. You can’t depend on “modern art” to stay fashionable almost 100 years after it first appeared. I think abstraction itself is only a step in the “evolution of art”. Perhaps it’s time to integrate it into whatever the next step may be. Perhaps it’s a mistake to think of art as evolving at all; maybe only the fashions change.

From: Jackie Knott — Apr 01, 2011

Any of us could sign our name to Robert’s letter. However … One statement in his letter stood out: “I need to find exposure or a gallery affiliation.” Well? It seems the most obvious response would be to go after it. As always, the hardest part of art is marketing and most the time we have to do it ourselves. We’re our own advocate. Maybe approach a contemporary hotel and display your work on a rotating basis? Paint in a place where the public sees you work, interact with whoever pauses to watch, engage them in your art? Umm … God forbid, sell it? If you’re not represented by a gallery sift through however many necessary until you find several. One thing I noticed on your website there is no explanation whatsoever as to the inspiration of individual works. Representational paintings are normally self explanatory but abstracts usually demand some kind of commentary. The viewer is not a mind reader. Museums commonly include a notecard beside paintings explaining a piece. Yeah, dumbing down of the art patron but I’ll even admit it helps me to understand context. The viewer has no idea what inspired you, what you “saw,” nor why you interpreted that in this specific manner. However bold, colorful, or dramatic, they have only this visual: it hangs there with no reference to time, place, or emotion, and often the title confuses more. And last, define what is your goal with your art. Recognition, making a living, contribution, self expression … sometimes those things do not translate into sales.

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — Apr 01, 2011

When the artist is more concerned about trend and what sells than satisfying the need to create; the need to say something in a visual way everyone can tell. I am often surprised (and pleased) that even though the viewer can’t afford or wouldn’t want to hang abstract work they are drawn to my abstracts and want to understand what it means. These are not painted with a sale in mind but from an altered state of creativity. Isn’t this our true goal.

From: Gavin Logan — Apr 01, 2011

While there is a possibility that the person who put this clickback together chose work of Robert Dublac’s that was all the same and there is something with more variety available for viewing somewhere else, even a thoroughly hyped person can see that Dublac’s record is stuck. That’s his problem.

From: Edna V.Hildebrandt -Toronto ,Ontario. — Apr 01, 2011

I am an unknown .I am not a professional artist and I don’t follow trends in painting.Inspiration and an eye appeal should work hand in hand .Nice patterns and designs are beautiful when applied with color with meaning appeal to viewers.I think there should be a variety of subjects . As people are different they have different taste in different things so abstract paintings may appeal to one person but not another.Realistic painting of scenery and people appeal to a certain generation where they can connect to pleasant memories of their childhood or places they have visited.There is also now a genre of artists who create works of fantasy that appeal to a another generation.Abstraction perhaps have some kind of sophistication that appeal to people.But if the same pattern and design in different positions is done over and over again would it not become monotonous?One should not be discouraged discouraged .Keep on going an upward trend may come again.Thank you for the newsletter.

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin TX — Apr 01, 2011
From: Joseph Murray — Apr 01, 2011

Most artist’s that started during the 60’s era quickly found out in college or art school that realism or representationalism was not IN . If you did not do abstract art you were a castoff and indeed not worth working with . I wanted to represent the world as I seen it and was rebuked . I wanted to learn theories and principles of art and was told put down your feelings — that is all that is important . So, I did that for around 10 years but didn’t find much true satisfaction from it . I got tired of interpreting for viewers what I was portraying in my art . You all know, the wine and cheese crowd that sit around and kibbitz about the intellectual meanings etc. of the art . Finally, I decided that my subject matter (nature) is about as abstract as it gets and that a marriage of realism and abstraction was pretty cool — as I could still invoke my emotions in the art work and viewers could still sense the emotions I was representing . But none of this means anything to others unless the artist has the maturity to express your inner self .That soul like quality that transcends time and space — then one’s truth is exposed to others and that is terrific . No smoke and mirrors — just the absolute truth as one sees it . No one owes us anything in our career . WE owe the viewer the best that we can give . Success will follow eventually and if not at least the artist had the God given honor to express himself in ways that most humans never get the chance to do . ATMD — Attitude Makes The Difference Mr. Dublac . Happy Spring !

From: Dwight — Apr 01, 2011

May I inject a bit of politics? The swing away from abstraction to easily recognized subject matter is probably the result of a huge swing to non-progressive political thinking. The ideologues of the so-called-right are holding sway at the moment.

From: Sue Miller — Apr 01, 2011

No wonder you are in a stagnant time in your career. Your work is extreemly dated and boring. Loosen up, try a different format, get away from all those straight lines. Sorry to be so blunt, but it might help bring you into 21st centruy art making.

From: Dirk — Apr 01, 2011

It was not long ago we discussed art as a spiritual event. You can’t complain that someone HAS to be buying your spiritual event. Robert is another whiney artist who thinks the world owes him a living.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 01, 2011
From: Karen Baker Thumm — Apr 01, 2011

If Robert Dublac went to art school during the 60’s or 70’s, he probably didn’t get much true “art” instruction in the basics. Good abstract art is based on good design/composition, knowledge of color, successful use of values and so forth. The first abstract artists were trained in realism by traditional classical methods common in the 18th and 19th centuries. They then took their art into abstraction using the foundation upon which they had been trained. Perhaps Robert Dublac, instead of blaming society for his lack of success, should take an honest look at his own art. Perhaps he should go back to the well of traditional art training with an open mind to see where his art may be lacking and find how he can improve it. Good art sells no matter what the style or genre. Living in a backwater should be no excuse for lack of sales in this computerized day and age. “Just vegetating” tells me more about his state of mind and the state of his art than anything else. There in lies his problem.

From: Robert Redus — Apr 01, 2011

Robert, It is difficult to comment on your paintings as they are some instance in time. Perhaps they are current works or are the result of years of study to get to this point; but it would be nice to see some history that says where you have been and where you are currently. I tend to align my thinking with Sue Miller’s comment…these are dated…looks like you studied Richard Diebenkorn and found a great place to leap from. Although, I like the work yet because they have a clear time line, they are predictable and to your advantage…though, galleries do want predictability. It sounds like you have been doing this for awhile, (painting/showing) if that is the case what marketing did you use in the past to promote yourself, where did that change and how do you reinvent a new more effective plan that promotes you and your work today, 2011. I don’t buy into Robert Genn’s idea that you are “a victim of the tides that ebb and flow in fashionable art.” unless of course your goal is producing fashionable art and painting “trend”. I paint to paint, that at least is the #1 priority this second, in ten minutes it may very well be to sell and show, and following that it may be for some journey of the soul or I want to go on vacation, but all of the same thoughts hover around my porch light of painting….they never change…just in position…. Just might be time to capitalize on your experience, skill, time in the trenches, and desire…good luck to you…

From: Joy Corcoran — Apr 01, 2011

Artists need to remember that art’s education is almost non-existent. If you love and create a certain type of art and no one around you can see what you see in it, it may be time to start giving lectures and posting blogs about it. I come from a narrative, folkart background and from very poor Southern schools. A lot of my arts education has been from artists who take the time to tell their stories and share their insights on what I don’t understand. I would have never appreciated abstraction without the help explanation. I find myself in the same position educating people as to why I work with thread and cloth and whimsy and disability. We’re not all destined for the great or even local museums. But all who are creative are destined to give their own particular insight to the world. Help people understand yours and you can’t help but grow an audience and a deeper insight into yourself.

From: Greg Danielson — Apr 01, 2011

In response to the abstract art and poor me subject matter. Poor me can take a variety of paths. Some is justified. Observing the American public’s attitude about art in general is “under-appreciated via ignorance.” It is my observation that people don’t see art from a knowledge base. It is painfully obvious that the lack of art programs in the elementary grade levels of education has been an aggravated lack of dollars. What was the first item eliminated from school of the 70’s thru 90’s+ because of lack of funds? You know. So, a buying public has a reason not to see art as substantive because they never learned about it in the first place. Overcoming ignorance is the greatest challenge of any subject. How to overcome it, I don’t know. How do you educate an adult what he/she should have learned in grade school? Keep plugging away and the pity party must be short lived.

From: Terry McIlrath — Apr 01, 2011

Art is never easy to sell. It is more difficult with the economy in the toilet. Even good abstract work starts out a car length behind figurative work when most buyers are looking for work which is not risky and does not require thinking to understand.

From: Celeste Chute Wright — Apr 01, 2011

Thank you for another great thought provoking article…….. Let’s hear it for SKILL and MEANING!

From: Marian Dunn — Apr 01, 2011

I know that during the 60’s and 70’s many university art programs eschewed basic academic skills and just taught abstraction. I have found that today in Utah the abstract artists who are still doing well have the basic skills to work in realism or abstraction—their work seems stronger when it has that background. I don’t know about Mr. Dublac but while non-objective art doesn’t sell as easily as representational work here in Salt Lake City, UT the really solid abstractionists who are still out there reaching for new ideas and means of expression do just fine.

From: Faye Taylor — Apr 01, 2011

Well said, Robert. I was offended at his statement: “Galleries no longer choose artists with conviction; they’ve become art shops.” How dare he say such a thing? How does painting realism mean the artist has no conviction? “Woe is me,” is right.

From: Alex Nodopaka — Apr 01, 2011

Yours was an elegant repartee to the question. There’s no excuse for the contemporary artist to mope about the state of the arts. Myself I used to think of my own achievements as being outstanding and the majority of it is except with the out, standing out more than not. However, I also agree with the writer that there’s has not been much new directions since the ’60’s except that I’d go earlier in history back to at least the teens, basically to the start at of abstractionism. The truly unique and original approaches have been its scale, I’m specifically speaking of immovable and noncollectable art that ranges from the performance art to structurally colossal constructions like why would I want a 12 foot spoon in my kitchen or a 10 foot tooth brush in my mouth.

From: Susanne Forestieri — Apr 01, 2011

I thought the realism vs. abstraction debate was dead until I read your latest post. As an artist who has worked realistically, in semi-abstraction and most recently in abstraction I don’t feel there is any hard line dividing my work. For many years I worked from photographs doing small scale intimate scenes of my family and friends. For a few years I did large semi-abstracts and for the last two years I eschewed using any external references, i.e. photography. Playing with color and texture, smearing and scraping the oils with palette knives and trowels, I’ve enjoyed the process and let it lead me where it may.

From: John F. Burk — Apr 01, 2011

Good conclusion to this essay. I would say “under-recognized” describes many more than me, and maybe all except for a world-traveling, articulate Canadian landscape-painting ‘friend’ of mine, and a few others. But your continuing advice I applaud: Make art, keep growing and have fun with it. Whether others have fun and write checks or not is secondary.

From: Kittie Beletic — Apr 01, 2011

What beautiful work Robert Dublac creates! Thank you for posting some of his images. I wish him every success! I am constantly learning. It helps me do my job better and fortunately for me, I love exploration and discovery. Many times in conversation, artist colleagues (this includes writers, directors, painters, musicians, etc) are discouraged and often disgruntled about the “lack of integrity in the business” and about the trends that sweep through the world of art. I don’t know if they are aware what message they are really sending. It feels so good when I am able to go with the changes rather than gripping my paintbrush with fear and loathing. I don’t just paint for a living. I’ve had to be resourceful and because of that, I’ve learned about art in a plethora of mediums. I am committed to who I am – an artist. It is exciting to see how the process of creating works in everything I try. With practice I get better in each genre. With focus and discipline, I become discerning and sometimes decide the medium isn’t something I enjoy and try something else. Purposefully, I work with the elements I have and what happens is that new and enthralling pieces come forward. I’m not famous. I don’t have a lot of money. I love what I do for work and play. What I make appeals or doesn’t. I am thrilled when people enjoy what is on canvas or in one of my books or on their radio. But I don’t do it for that reason. I love what I do because I do what I love. Enthusiasm without expectation is the most fun I have! I don’t expect applause and sometimes it comes anyway.

From: Linda Anderson Stewart — Apr 01, 2011

It really troubles me that this kind of narrow thinking pervades the painting mind these days…non representational art being the only direction an artist can take after impressionism? Give me a break. The trends of history show that the sky is the limit because those doors where opened….and the resulting work is exciting and gut wrenching and also amazingly beautiful. Do some looking….Anslem Keiffer, Frank Auerbach, Gerhard Richter ( MOMA retrospective 2001), Hockney, Richard Attila Lukas…even Joseph Raphael…..all very successful in their own right…all doing representational work…but from their guts and using the information and tools of their era. As painters it’s our responsibility to pay attention to all the work that is happening out there….whether we like it or not…and choose to follow whatever path feels most honest for us. If we are only concerned with what is selling then I guarantee one will be sucked dry in short order.

From: Louise Cass — Apr 01, 2011

A word to Robert Dublac- read your letter printed by Robert Genn – I really sympathize – your paintings are beautiful! I suffer a bit from the same problem -although my subjects are recognizable they’re not ‘realistic’ enough for today’s tastes it seems – I’m staggered by the number of names on the Pollock-Krasner Foundation site – the same is true at the Saatchi gallery online – one has to realize that the world is populated by a surfeit of luxury trade/artists – very many of whom do great work but there would appear to be more artists than buyers! but this has been discussed before – Mr Genn can you remind us of the numbers (of artists) world wide that you came up with a while back? -we must all continue to do it because we love it and try to forget about the fame/selling/marketing side, either being satisfied with little or being engaged in another more lucrative trade at the same time to finance our folly!

From: Jan Ross — Apr 01, 2011

I do like Mr. Dublac’s paintings and wonder if he’s just marketing to the wrong audience or understanding of the current conditions? These hard economic times cause people to tighten their purse-strings as the cost of food and fuel keep reaching deeper and deeper into precious funds. Additionally, there are so many big box and inexpensive home decorating stores where people can buy something they like, already framed, for less than $100, so the ‘average joe’ is going to ‘invest’ that much for a print to go over the sofa. While his art isn’t being recognized in museums etc. I think Mr. Dublac may have to derive satisfaction from creating it for now, and realize he is not alone in his frustration.

From: Rick Rotante — Apr 01, 2011

Here we go again in the fire. From where I stand the problem with abstract art is that it is badly done by anyone who thinks tossing a pail of paint onto a canvas is abstract. In a way they are right but then anyone can do this with no art training at all. The other problem I see is that abstract art can’t be commented on even by the critics because they cannot connect with the work without the artist explaining his/her intention. Even some abstract artists cannot connect with their work. The nature of abstract is IT’S ABSTRACT! Abstract art needs comment. Without comment, most, even the experts, don’t know what it means. Traditional or Representational art doesn’t. It is what it is and that is enough for most affectionato’s. Most viewers can get a handle on traditional/ representational art and understand much of what they see and they appreciate it. Abstract art is discordant and goes against the natural mental makeup of most human being that are considered “normal”. It’s good to see abstractly as an artist, but as a concept not as an art form. Those who practice abstract art, are just using it as an excuse for lack of years of strenuous study and are incapable of being “artists.” If you stop and think about it, representational art IS abstract in the truest sense. Think about it! The image is flat yet seems three dimensional. The bucolic scene isn’t real but seems so. The painting is on a flat material but seems to come alive. How more abstract can you get.

From: Thomas Tobin — Apr 01, 2011

Well said. I think the artist is self indulgent. I’m an abstract painter, perspective is everything! Artists should get back to creating art. I talked with a seventeen year old artist last week who said she is also being ignored by the public and that she has paid her dues in the art world.

From: Pam Hobert — Apr 01, 2011

I didn’t hear/see Robert Dublac asking for advice, but here goes.. Your skill and complex handling of color reflects your experience. I offer the same advice I give myself. Try some classes or workshops in a new media to loosen your hand and mind. Be open to an evolution of aesthetics, composition, and color relationships. Find a young person whose work you admire. As studio practice or just for the class, analyze and make some work inspired by-not to market…just to loosen your eye and thinking. I find that I am surprised at what I see in my work. Herein offers an opportunity to see ‘anew’. Taking a class in something I am attracted to, but do not necessarily do, loosens and gives permission to be a beginner again (less self criticism AND less praise!). One definitely has to put one’s ego aside for a short time. These experiences have been refreshing. Lighten up. My current work is printmaking -there are numerous avenues. I am by nature, and degree, a sculptor. My current work is good and satisfies. I have lost nothing, only gained, by moving sideways. Good luck!

From: Sandy Schultheis — Apr 01, 2011

I can sympathize with Mr. Dublack’s problem. I live in a town that has a museum director (and board) that loves super-realistic, old master-style painting. In the last four competitions with an outside juror the winner has painted in this style. I was lucky and was included in a juried show with two small abstracts, I think there was one other abstract in about 60 entries! I’m not a professional painter and am not concerned with selling my work but I love abstract painting.

The only consolation is that I am seeing lots of abstract paintings in decorating magazines like Architectural Digest and have heard that big abstracts sell at art fairs in our city.
From: Yvonne Moyer — Apr 01, 2011

Robert Dublac’s paintings are beautiful and include just enough image to let my mind travel on the water reflections, barges and fields. Keep it up. MOCA museum in North Miami may be interested. As would galleries In West Palm Beach through to Miami….good luck.

From: Shari Caldwell — Apr 01, 2011

No movement is without its brilliance–I doubt Mr. Genn was lumping these greats into that bunch. However, any artist who has taken time developing their craft is aware that “I’m an abstract painter” is one of the most frequent statements to come out of a lazy, non-dedicated artist’s mouth — it’s just easier to pretend to be misunderstood when you’re “working” in that genre, and it cheapens the appreciation of the the geniuses who actually pushed the boundaries of it.

From: Mary Moquin — Apr 01, 2011

Robert Dublac needs to stop looking from left to right at other artists and trends and keep his eyes focused on his own work and vision, otherwise he will drive himself crazy. That is what I have forced myself to do. There is no accounting for the taste of the public, and as John Stewart commented the other night on his comedy show, “Gee, I never equated high ratings with quality”. Good art is rarely “popular”. I know there is little comfort in that, but Robert Dublac might as well accept that and just get on with the work.

From: Brad Greek — Apr 01, 2011

We see this all the time in every circle of the art world, poor me, I’m not recognized, yet the artist isn’t willing to commit to a life as an artist. I’ve found that sometimes in order to make a living as an artist you have to paint what will sell in your area, Whether you like to paint it or not. Art for art sake is great and works well for juried shows, but it’s just a harder sell usually. If pure abstracts aren’t selling, paint representational abstracts, if they aren’t selling, paint something else, this isn’t rocket science.

From: Michael Fuerst — Apr 01, 2011

Anyone wishing to earn a living as an artist must adjust one’s work as the public’s tastes evolve. Truly distinctive works defy evolving tastes.

From: Liz King-Sangster — Apr 01, 2011

Firstly, I would like to say that Robert Dublac’s work its superb. I long to paint abstract and am incapable. Assuming he is in the US, I think he is on the wrong continent. The French, Dutch and Germans in particular would love his work, he needs to get himself to Europe, where he will be amongst like minds. When he uses the word under-recognized, I imagine he doesn’t only mean remunerations, frustrating as that is, but being recognized by our own artistic peers is just as important, it emphasizes that he is following the right path for him, it’s a lonely world out there.

From: Norman Ridenour — Apr 01, 2011

Don’t you read the news. The whole country is going conservative. Art is not separate. A few years back a study of Playboy models was conducted. They were lean and slim in good economic times and considerably chunkier (rounded/maternal/pillowy) in bad times. These days people seek the safety of the known, nostalgia, and comfort. I quite like your work but an average buyer would need to feel good about the world to buy it. In teaching art history I have come to believe that for the collector art becomes his or her peacock feathers. Art is used to show aesthetics, strength (I can buy something useless), audacity (I can have something far out), i.e., I am a good actual or potential mate. Face it most people are not feeling strong and audacious these days. Impressionism is perfect; familiar friendly topics, cheerful upper colors and not hard edged. Sure a lot of it is MUZAK but even in the best of times very few people want to be ‘challenged’. Look, you had galleries, I have sold maybe six pieces in my life in a gallery and those were at shows I paid for up front. At least working in wood I can turn my art into fireplace fuel.

From: Wes Giesbrecht — Apr 01, 2011

I’ve made my living as an artist for many years now. I’ve never applied for government grant money and never will. Why on earth should we expect the tax payer to bear the burden of supporting artists who make what the people don’t want? Someone once said, the secret of success is figuring out what people want and giving it to them. Conversely, it should be fairly obvious that a direct path to failure is in trying to sell what people clearly don’t want. What the heck is so hard to understand about that?

From: Jacque Duffy — Apr 01, 2011

I’ve been painting for many years and have found as you pointed out “the fashion” of art. I spend a great deal of time in community galleries as well as private and have made an observation. I find (In Australia) many people who are ‘lookers’ admire representational art pieces and have NO concept of abstraction. The buyers tended to go for the abstract a few years ago and then slowed. I paint in all mediums and have painted from photo representational to total abstraction…. I decided to continue to paint for myself and not worry about the sales (job pays the bills) and I have been fortunate. I have happily discovered my latest love semi abstraction has won over both some of the lookers and some of the buyers.

From: Joel Simpson — Apr 01, 2011

The country is falling apart economically, being taken over by giant corporations who have bought out the politicians, and which now wage war for profit, ideals be damned, and Robert Dublac goes on blithely painting decorative abstractions. The woods are burning! Let him express some of the Zeitgeist through his style — it can be done. Maybe that’s the way he’ll find his way back to being compelling. At the very least, he’ll achieve eschewed-voice-in-the-wilderness status, rather than remaining an artist whom fashion has passed by.

From: Shan Thomas — Apr 01, 2011

Thank you Robert!

Life is all about attitude…. clearly espoused in your newsletters!
From: Narender Mehta — Apr 01, 2011

As a painter I am interested in making the work of the soul more visible and real, enriching our everyday lives. It is in these moments when our soul speaks to us in a quiet, perhaps even a silent voice – wielding great power and influence at both a conscious and unconscious level. A primary role of my art is to provide clarity and insight into issues of soul as inherent elements of man’s role in creation. As awareness and consciousness increases, so does the clarity with which we are able to perceive the exquisite beauty and wholeness of creation. Ultimately, art acts as both a mirror and a lens that gives presence and visibility to that which previously was unseen, unknown and not understood, often residing in the underground of the conscious. It is worthy to note that in this endeavor one learns that – the perception of all great beauty always has an element of “strangeness” and in its expression is an opportunity to truly know the perfection of all creation. Painting is a universal language and its truths are accessible to all who view an image regardless of culture, nationality, age, language or status in life. The paintbrush is a tool that crosses cultures, breaks boundaries and grants access and connections that are not available through any other means. In my work as a painter I seek expression and a deeper knowledge of these issues and in that pursuit a profound experience of being intensely alive. It is here that one’s life has resonance within our innermost being, knowing the intense rapture of life. By following our passion and our bliss and by being willing to enter the “underground”, we find paths that have been there all the while, waiting for each of us. The life we live becomes the life we should be living and one has the opportunity to know the fire of passion and the continuing renewal of the life within. On this wondrous path, being an artist makes me become an instrument of story telling, spirituality, faith, seeing, knowing, exploration and celebration.

From: Brian Romer — Apr 01, 2011

Wow! When I was a teenager in the late fifties, I was an abstract painter and sometimes wonder if I still should be, but somehow can never go back to it. The thought that “abstraction now seems old fashioned” hit me like a bit of a IED. It all suddenly made sense. But I also agree that “the tide could easily turn.” Then where will I be?

From: Adrienne Moore — Apr 01, 2011

I think this whole concept of painting ”fashionable art” is so losing as far as I am concerned. Abstract art is “alive and well” as it always has been since the sixties and seventies, provided it is educated art, but so often it this whole movement has been misrepresented by so many painters who put up work that is very sub-standard . I agree with Rober Dublac when he says he was doing this kind of work in second year at college and we must move on . I personally think that I do allow myself to move on but in two areas as a successful painter. I know that to make things work, I must be diverse. I know that my landscapes and the popular stuff sells well and this allows me the perfect opportunity to lose myself in what I love to paint completely for myself. I call it my experimental work when I just need to play with my materials and not worry about the market. This is where the child like artist takes over and allows the artist to just have fun. There is a no risk factor. Surely this is what we have come to love in our childrens’ early undisciplined art ….. which is their kind of magic.

From: Bill Hibberd — Apr 01, 2011

Its very apparent that the “contemporary art market” of the type you’ll see in the Armory show in New York is mostly nonsense promoted by a small but influential group of dealers/speculators. There is great abstract and installation art but lets get real. Most of it is shock art motivated by greed for money and prestige. To be balanced, I’d admit that representational artists can be just as guilty. Most of us (myself included) produce unresolved, substandard and redundant work. When you stand before a great piece no one needs to educate you, its obvious. Abstract and representational artists are one. We must all continually improve and maybe we will occasionally put out some great work.

From: gail caduff-nash — Apr 01, 2011

good points. i think this is where art agents and managers come into play. to sell something difficult, get a better sales plan. perhaps this guy’s success with his work lulled him into a false sense of security about the art world. he could read about artists of 1890 and pretty much read the same things he wrote. and there’s the recession. people start thinking about having things that are more of a practical nature – less of a spiritual one. and then there’s titles. looking at his work, it’s strong, vibrant and interesting – but if all the viewer gets is a two word title to ‘explain’ it, they won’t ‘get’ it or relate to it. it needs more to capture their imagination. (at least it does with me) “Spiritual Realm”, for instance, doesn’t do much for me and really didn’t seem like it meant much for that painting. my interpretation of it was completely different, but i would have liked to get the artist’s viewpoint for it.

From: Judi Birnberg — Apr 02, 2011

I would disagree that an overabundance of abstraction exists. It rarely sells, not because it is inferior but more likely because most people just don’t get it. They need to latch onto something they can identify: “Look! A tree! A shed! A cow!” They need to be spoon-fed (or brush-fed) stories. I think it is an indication of the general dumbing down so prevalent in today’s society; people want “easy.” They don’t want to have to do any work to understand a painting (or anything else).

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 02, 2011

So- fellow artists- what do we do about the dumbing down of society? Here’s another great topic for Mr Genn to tackle! But I’ve another comment! And you’re all going to hate it! For more than 30 years I’ve been working in a medium that’s barely recognized as fine art and most of the artists in the group are women. So my work stands out because it is completely different. Most of these women have also been in my age group- older- not younger. Most of these women- if not ALL- have has husbands supporting them and their ‘art career’ though many have had jobs just like all the rest of us. But women who do not have to succeed financially won’t. PERIOD. I learned they think it’s OK to break even- and beyond that it doesn’t really matter. This is the Kept Woman Syndrome. You can hear from this group- who are mostly women- the ones who have jobs and paint (or whatever) as a secondary focus. Those are often just what survival demands. Someone mentioned that Robert Dublac seems to have a sense of entitlement- which may be. Others think he’s just whining. Personally- even though I’m still working with similar materials my work has still changed again and again- so I can’t imagine it still looking like it did 40 years ago now. I’d call that a creative rut. But here’s what I found out hanging in the group I’ve been involved in. There are tremendous negative patterns imprinted on non/artists in our culture- about artists succeeding FINANCIALLY. The problem is that virtually every single one of us artists are holding onto these patterns TOO. ALL OF US. So the problems we see outside of us- we see because they are also INSIDE of us. We- collectively- need to dump the patterns ourselves if we ever think our society is going to dump them. And then apparently we have to hold the hand of culture and walk it through the art museum and explain everything in great detail so culture ‘get’s it’ and grows up. This- unfortunately- blows the ‘mystery’ of art out the window- but oh well.

From: Joe Yeno — Apr 02, 2011

i guess he must be in the backwater, perhaps a swirling eddy on the Farmington river where you just go ’round and ’round….I’ve been associated with and on the board of several art guilds and galleries in north west Connecticut for 20 years and I have never heard of Dublac. Not that i know everyone — maybe he should get out more! I’d like to meet him. I think you have to

From: Grace Karczewski — Apr 02, 2011

I looked at his work and was disappointed in the content, as an artist myself, I am not an abstract artist, I am more a realist, while all his work looks fine it is dated with the 70’s. We all as artists have to find new avenues to search, change our style etc. There is always that statement” its been done before”, I probably sell a painting a year, the economy has been terrible and I don’t live in an aria where art sells as well as art in say the southwest portion of the United states. Even though I change my work around I am still a realist artist and I tend not to be as abstract, so where do you go? (Grace Karczewski, professional artist and Livonia Arts Commissioner, keeping art alive in the city and State of Michigan)

From: S. Knettell — Apr 02, 2011

I don’t ever remember anyone holding a gun to our heads and saying “you must become an artist”. when we are younger we do it because it interests and fulfills us. It is joyful play. However things change and as we get older, the twin needs, money and recognition come into the equation. If we could imagine, not needing either money or recognition, what kind of work would we do? The world is flooded with artists turning out acres of canvasses, rivers of watercolors and mountains of sculptures. The art schools are graduating thousands upon thousand of students a year and museums and attics are stuffed to the groaning point with the efforts of legions of now deceased artists. What art is is, has been has been dissected for centuries and what seems to be most valuable at any time finds a space or a place on the wall somewhere. It may not be what we like, and worse not us, but there it is. We have no control over it. We just have to continue doing what we love to do with as much passion, care and honesty as we can and keep trying to find that space on the wall. That is all that is left to do.

From: Larry Malone — Apr 02, 2011

Art always needs to be new, for it is the purpose of art to expand our collective vision. Recycling proven, if once avant-garde, styles and techniques does the opposite. “Derivative” is the art critic’s kiss of death. It doesn’t matter whether the style is abstract, photorealistic or anywhere in between. Mr Dublac’s paintings are, I think, quite nice, very agreeable and I am sure their strong structure would look good on the wall, but that very agreeableness suggests a certain familiarity, like we are walking a road already smooth paved. There is indeed a resurgence in representational painting, but it isn’t the same as the last century’s representational painting, or that of the centuries before. Seems to be a bit quirkier, or maybe even disturbing, as if we see the world, but we’re not sure we can take it seriously. Yet I still prefer art that leans to the abstract — while the real world can serve as a terrific excuse to arrange colors within a rectangle, recognition of the imaged objects can get in the way of seeing the image itself. But the trend today is the opposite, toward pictures that “say” something, which, for me at least, rarely work — I just don’t think art is a good outlet for the intellect. Nevertheless, the art world is huge, and admits of many subjects, styles and intentions. Mr Dublac has a clear style and if that is where his vision lies, he must pursue it for all it’s worth. He might never sell another picture, or he might break into something truly new. Los Angeles CA

From: Nader Khaghani — Apr 02, 2011

No one owes us anything, and nobody asked us to pick up a brush and attack the canvas. Self-imposed. So, the kitchen is hot, the cooking is getting tough, and we are not finding the popular recipe, are we to give up? We shall paint in the meadows, we shall color the valleys blues and violets; we shall compose after the heart’s desire; we shall abstract the hues of yearning; we shall mix the yellow/blue, red and green and wing them to the cloud n; we shall sing form and color on top of our lunges; we shall serenade the inner and outer universe with all our sentiments, victories and agonies and the whole miserable business of art; welcome the impressionists (including Rich Little), expressionists and realists; we shall flirt with the muse and charm the collectors and embrace the art of 60’s, 70’s, past present and future. We shall be ourselves when wanted and particularly when unwanted. We shall never ever give up. Since to Give up, when under-appreciated, is to watch the soul wither and die. We shall never do that. Muse fill up my heart and soul, let the music of color and form play on my canvas the short few days that I live. wiping out the tears, we hear the laughter of the canvas, and paint the objects of desire, the apples of eyes, anything else is a crime. Dip the soul into color, the hues, the children of light, the radiant daughters of sun smile and sing across the canvas. Go, Robert Revak Dublac of Unionville, Connecticut, paint with all your heart, enliven your image. Shed a few tears when you need to but understand the noise is meant to throw you off your painting saddle. We shall never give up . No way.

From: Rose Moon — Apr 02, 2011
From: Dirk — Apr 03, 2011

Too many artists don’t understand the concepts of supply and demand.

From: A Reader — Apr 03, 2011

Robert Dublac refers to himself as “under-recognized.” There is a difference between being recognized and being appreciated (and respected). Former American Idol contestant William Hung, who can’t sing a note in tune, is recognized. But few people with any understanding of music appreciate his “music.” The words people choose reveal a lot about themselves.

From: Thor Vesterberg — Apr 03, 2011

What is life but being under-recognized?

From: Skyya Grenoille — Apr 03, 2011

I was trying to cash a check at the bank and they wouldn’t recognize me so I had to produce some ID. They didn’t even know who I was.

From: Chaz — Apr 04, 2011

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. ~Pablo Picasso

From: Marni California — Apr 04, 2011

As far as fashion goes, some of the greatest artists who ever worked didn’t give a flying – e.g. JMW Turner who went whole hog into watercolours at a time when the medium was dismissed, painting pictures all critics save Ruskin loathed; eventually Turner brought watercolours into repute. Also, I don’t get this idea some people have, that education makes modern art more accessible – if you don’t like it you must be dumb or have no education. I’ve had an excellent British education, acquiring my Honours degree. I’ve had modern art explained to me in detail, and I *still* think it’s complete balls. Perhaps the public are not so much dumbing down as voting with their feet.

From: Gloria Miller Allen — Apr 04, 2011

I just HAD to say AMEN to your response about all us under-recognized artists. My sales are down a big bunch too, and guess what, they are more representational. Lets face it, money is tight. Keep painting, all you artists, and drive a taxi if you have to. Things are not always fair, so do what you have to do. In the end, you paint for you. By the way, I loved Robert Revak Dublac’s paintings from Connecticut, and I love getting your letters for many years now, Robert Genn, from Canada. Gloria Miller Allen from good ol’ Idaho in the USA. AWS TWSA WW NWWS Big smiley face here

From: Colin T Bell — Apr 04, 2011

I read the latest tale of woe with some amusement as well as surprise. Looking at the samples of this person’s art, they all appear very horizontal and orthogonal. Although they hang together well as a series, have good colour, decent composition and nice values, they seem to lack exciting curves or diagonals. Yet, although lacking in sales, the artist is still benefiting from grant moneys at the public’s expense. Most of us struggling artists also have problems with superfluous inventory, and have never seen a cent of funding support. This person should stop whining and decide what might encourage sales.

From: John — Apr 04, 2011

I agree. These woe is me letters to Robert Genn usually make the writer look bad. I don’t know why artists keep writing them.

From: Ned Rocha — Apr 04, 2011

‘Cause a lot of artists are basically masochists.

From: Valerie Seligsohn — Apr 04, 2011

Your insights are accurate and right on regarding the American art scene. Also galleries in New York and LA as well as museums like MOCA in North Adams, Mass. focus on concepts, scientifically-oriented and technologically-oriented stuff, most of which is visually boring and often ludicrous. And so it goes, real talent ( I know too well ) goes unrecognized.

From: Trish — Apr 04, 2011

I would suggest Robert try his hand at painting with oil & encaustic. That way he can use his color sense and design sense, but the new medium will give him a new attitude and an updated look.

From: Sheila Minifie — Apr 05, 2011

Well sorry Robert. Turn and turn about. I had a hard time for decades because I was representational. I was told when applying for official Arts Council grants (Uk) in the 1980s “Forget it. Don’t you realise that Brancusi has now superseded Rembrandt?” A group of us – figurative sculptors (all in our 20’s at the time studying with Stuart Osborne who was a prodigy of Epstein) – were considered elitist and dead in the water by art academia. Even when I went to Art College many years later in the 1990’s to do a degree and postgrad, the ageing tutors were still pushing abstraction on us and were very negative and dismissive of anything representational. BTW, I really like your abstracts – I’m surprised they’re not doing well. Actually, the point for me is not whether something is representational or not (because I love pictorial values) but representation is still now only ‘allowed’ (lauded) if there is sufficient pain/cynicism/politics/anti-beauty/anti-Nature/’knowingness’ in it to show that the artist isn’t living in the past and still has that ‘shock of the new’. * yawn * So – for me representation isn’t the true dividing line. It’s about something else. Graydon Parrish may shift things – though I don’t particularly like his work – students may very well be ripe for listening to what they want themselves instead of being brainwashed by art theorists and lecturers who have been.

From: Bev Searle-Freeman — Apr 05, 2011

WOW … this sure made for some very interesting reading … thank you Robert for stirring things up again :D

From: Rebecca Trueblood — Apr 05, 2011

Oh puh-leeez- making abstract art that works, moves the viewer’s eye around and makes a connection is probably the most difficult, frustrating and rewarding things I have ever done. Still life, landscapes and nudes are cake by comparison- I can knock those out and get a “Wow” with no problem at all.

From: Anon — Apr 06, 2011

Hey Rebecca, where can we see some of your “Wow” still life, landscapes and nudes?

From: Pebble Carnovan — Apr 13, 2011

The art milieu — often referred to by its commercial handle, the art market — is, at any time, what it is, and to rail against it makes no more real sense than complaining about cold in winter and heat in summer. We live — in the West — in such a mediated society, where images of all sorts abound, it takes an incredibly engaging image to be engaging at all. For people who believe that they “should” be able to make a living from the sale of their original art works the situation should be clear. Either they are, they can, they are not, they cannot, or they make some headway, or not. It’s very easy to determine where you are among these alternatives. It’s less easy to come to grips with unrealistic expectations. There is always a limited amount of money being spent on original art, and little when contrasted with other media. If you are not getting enough of that pie, you have to decide to either do better, change what you do to what the buyers want, or accept your marginal participation for what it is. There are too many curmudgeonly artists ranting about how beset-upon they are, how they are under-rated, how lesser artists are over- regarded, how they are not earning their just due, etc., etc.. This has probably been the case since the first charcoal stick was applied to the first cave wall. Someone always thinks, it’s not me, it’s the world that has to change. In this case, the world might actually be moving away from hand produced art. Or, more likely, it will be relegated to a niche much the same as hand woven articles. It’s difficult to know, but when it happens (or doesn’t), if you want to enjoy yourself, it will be better to accept the art world for what it is at any particular moment. Right now it seems to be enjoying its Tracey Emin’s and it’s Banksy’s. Passes my understanding, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If you don’t like it, then just enjoy that Damien Hirst has put his foot in it by trying to paint again, and it’s not very interesting stuff. (I certainly hope I’m not indulging in schadenfreude!) But try not to care to much.

From: Kathy Farmer — May 12, 2011

When I made a small living as an artist I tought for the local community college, had a small public space where I painted portrait commisions and did an excellent mat and frame service on a small scale. Not every place does good matting and framing; one needs to study up on everything and provide the best job (acid free and all that). That’s how one gets repeat business and becomes indispensible.

     Featured Workshop: Sharon Rusch Shaver
040511_robert-genn Sharon Rusch Shaver Workshops   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Roses For You

oil painting, 12 x 24 inches by Pat Deputat, Edmonton, AB, Canada

  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 Bill Skuce of Sooke, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Sometimes artists are, either of inner necessity or outward circumstances, obliged to reinvent themselves. In such instances, flexibility helps and versatility develops, extending the artist’s range of expression while enriching his/her confidence and capability.” And also Loraine Wellman of Richmond, BC, Canada, who wrote, “A lot of us are ‘under-recognized’ but I also think artists need to realize that selling is one thing and making art is another.” And also Gilles Mauve of Limoges, France, who wrote, “Anyone can paint anything if they want to.”    

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