Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Toxic, Boring, Inhumane"

The other day I got an email in my in-box titled 'really?' and it concerned a viewer who was disturbed by some of my recent work currently on display at Doug Witmer's Green Line Art Projects in West Philadelphia. It expresses the trendy self righteousness of a certain part of the urban population. He's sincere and humane and leaves his name and then, ironically, doesn't afford me the common courtesy of addressing me with mine. And I actually love the work being called "toxic". It sounds powerful and dangerous.
Here's the email:
I can't believe you get away with this (sponges and
washcloths?). either drop your prices by 85% or start collecting more
interesting garbage. PLEASE. unless you use your funds to promote or engage
in social justice work.
until then your work is toxic and boring. if that's
the point you have to
charge less. it is inhumane otherwise.

Here's my response:

Thanks for your email. Really. I've never gotten hate mail for my work before and it's kind of interesting.

As far as getting away with charging so much for art seen as "unworthy"(by you at least)-- you should get out more! There's a lot more where that came from! Ever hear of Damien Hirst and his sliced in half cows and sheep? Or his painting made of 1000's of dead flies? Millions, dog, millions. I'm asking for chump change in comparison.

And for what it's worth, I made my artwork from scratch(made from felt, foam and polyurethane resin). I didn't find it in the garbage. I wasn't aware if you knew that or not. I called them sponges and washcloths because they looked like that. They're not REAL sponges and washcloths.

And another thing, you found my art SO BORING you found the time to write me about it. Things I find truly boring I forget about them a minute later. You found my artwork boring enough to put some thought into it and write to me. Hmmph.

Anyway, thanks again. I plan to post your email and my response to it on my colorchunks blog. If you ever want to get really bored again. Check it out!




libby said...

Hi, John, this is quite amazing. I love both the comment and the response. I did stop by to take a look. My daughter and son-in-law, who were with me, looked and said, Huh?! Then we all talked about it a little, me less than both of them. I was mostly interested in hearing what their response was, the two of them being somewhat interested but not rabidly interested in contemporary art. They didn't reject the work. They were just a little mystified by how to respond. But we talked about it, about what the process probably was, about the colors, about what the substrate was. We laughed at the purported materials the title suggests. And then we downed some lattes and headed for the door. I consider that a fair amount of entertainment for an art work! Besides, the paintings (objects) are still entertaining me in my mind's eye!!! They are gloriously unresolved there.

John Tallman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Tallman said...

Thanks Libby.

I resolve not to "resolve" in my art. Resolving tends to wring out the tension and mystery.

Anonymous said...

*big grin*


Rob Hitzig said...

Great stuff. Your response was perfect. Recently, I got hate mail as well so it is interesting to see other reactions/responses. Thanks for sharing.