Gerald Prokop, in his new blog, has a few bones to pick with how Minneapolis/Minnesota treats its artists (even as we pat ourselves on our collective back for our self-perceived enlightenment).

He writes (in one post):

Minneapolis can’t support artists. Take the number of venues or galleries and compare it to the number of musicians or painters and you have a problem. And some of those people are cooler than you. Some have “friends in the scene.” Some have money in their family or other weird sources of income. Plenty of them are younger than you and willing to take greater risks. Add my own personal struggle with myself, and it gets hard to compete.

And in another post he writes:

I have mixed feelings about the art “scene” here, if you can call it that. I used to really believe in it. Afunctionul was all about investing in our place, and the local scene and how we could build it through those “unestablished” venues to create a healthy, diverse culture. But that was over four years ago. Since then, I tried my best at creating and marketing my visual art. I constantly felt like the “scene” was going on without me. Being an artist here is more about choosing your friends then creating your work. It’s more about having a style and fitting in somewhere socially. I closed my studio because I ran out of juice. I was broke and I wasn’t being myself. I would go to every gallery opening because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

It’s partly my fault for being socially awkward. But I dread the day when misfits don’t have the privilege of a career in the arts because overachievers have changed the standards.

It’s quite possible that the reasons I failed here as a visual artist would have caused me to fail anywhere. Regardless, I wish people would just shut up about how great it is here.

Minneapolitans like to create insulated communities, or cliques. And from that viewpoint, you can convince yourself that it’s anything you want it to be. And with our corporate paychecks, we can finance our fantasies.

For those who are interested, here’s a bit more bio about the work that Gerald Prokop has done since the early 2000s. He sounds like a doer, and it’s a shame he hasn’t found a community of support. I’m going to keep reading his blog to see how his career develops…

2 Responses to “Minneapolis also hates its artists (according to one of them)”

  1. cory says:

    I don’t see how an artist not doing his part to fit in and reach out to the community means that community has failed. Artists often think they are entitled to success just because they are artists. Ridiculous. Work hard and provide value just like everyone else who is successful (granted there are a few exceptions) and you will succeed as well. No one owes an artist anything.

  2. admin says:

    I agree with you, Cory. You make a good point. “No one” person does indeed owe any given artist “anything.” After all, we do live in a “free market” system. Still, a free market dictates that when you believe in something you have the right and responsibility to speak out about it–to “sell” it, so to speak. And I firmly believe that the culture at large has a responsibility to make sure that art in general survives and thrives.
    I realize this is a highfalutin ideal, and that I am expressing it somewhat naively, but, simply put, any civilized society worth its salt must place a premium on how it represents itself and expresses ideas to future generations through its arts and cultural production. And, following this, any thinking and cultured person living in a civilized society then is required to determine how he or she will play a role in keeping the arts alive…
    For me, I have determined that my responsibilty to art comes down to this: I will write as often as I can about every angle of the failure of the culture to support the arts. My intention is by pointing out these failures–both large and small–I will play a role in keeping art alive, mostly by inspiring others to think about art and its failure or to consider potential ways to break the failure cycle and support the arts and artists.
    In the very specific case you comment on above, I wanted to point out how one artist’s experiences of feeling shut out by the supposedly “supportive” Minneapolis arts community sheds light on a local paradox–that Minnesotans pat themselves on the back over and over about their support of art, and sell their region as a bastion of support for the arts, even as the place is really not that nurturing to artist, many of whom come from all over the country to be here…
    I point out what this artist claims as a challenge to anyone reading from Minneapolis: What are you going to do to make the local culture truly supportive of the arts?

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