On the Needs of Visual Artists

Post from Charles Hankin
This is a subject that I tried to raise when I was President of Philadelphia Tri State Artists Equity Association
I was able to get the book “On the Needs of Visual Artists” from The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation.

The publication is the result of the 2001 Roundtable on the needs of artists co-sponsored by Sharpe. The book had much to offer on the discussion of the subject. It is free for those non profits that ask. [Ed. note: the website says it’s available to other interested parties, so check it out even if you’re not a non-profit]
All the things that you list from the Linc day seem to boil down to making a market for art. It is the responsibility for the whole cultural community to raise the interest for the arts. Galleries, art centers and museums all have a role in gaining public interest in art. The individual artists seem to be feeding on the same small crumbs left over from the big feast. How many visitors to the Dali exhibit were moved to find work by living artists to buy? Fame is what sells art. Artists can’t make themselves famous without two things, exceptional work and the support of the art insiders. Unless you have a wealthy backer it is hard to compete with the budgets of the PMA or other leading art institutions that hold the public eye. Add to that the confusion in the publics mind about what good is and you have a mess. (images are two group shots of the artists at the end of the LINC forum at Fleisher)

I feel it is time to stop lumping all art into one pile and talk in terms about what types of art interest different people. Music does this well. Movies find their audience. Visual artists need to respect those who make different things and stop cutting each other down. We need to teach our friends, family and neighbors about art and why we are important creators. Respect for art will come from personal relationships not from an Arts Council or other government agency. The reason the Mural Arts Program is a success is that they connect with the neighborhoods.


Artists simply need to be a respected part of the community. Charlie

–Charles Hankin is a regular contributor to Artblog. He’s also a blogger. Check out his blog working sculptor.