WTF — “Community Art” by Norbert Marszalek


WTF is a periodic rant about an ill of the art world, one of humankind’s most screwed-up endeavors.

Artist communities don’t attract good artists. Having a “community” of artists seems like a good idea but if you look deeper into any “community” invariably you’ll find a lack of talent, a hobbyist mentality, more social than serious.

Some artists find out that playing with the big guys or getting into a “real” gallery is too difficult so they join a “community”. Has any artist ever become a “rock star” while climbing through the ranks of a community art group? In Chicago we have Around the Coyote, the CAC, the Ravenswood Art Walk District and the Pilsen Art District to name a few.

There are usually two kinds of artists. Look at their résumés. On the one side you’ll find respectable galleries, serious curated shows, museums, residencies, grants and on the other side you’ll see store front and frame shop galleries, restaurant and bar shows, Co-ops, vanity galleries and a lot of community art stuff.

Embrace the path that best makes you happy. Just be clear that each path will take you on a different journey.