Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Art Friday

A few weeks ago I was forwarded this article from Dublin, Ireland by Fil Alcon, the owner of the Guam Gallery of Art at the Chamorro Village:

Out of cash? Pick up free art on streets of Dublin
Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:33am EST

DUBLIN (Reuters Life!) - The financial crisis has hit Ireland especially hard, so Dubliners will appreciate getting a little surprise for nothing. The "Free Art Friday" movement has reached the Irish capital.

The group, with "no known creators or hierarchy," asks established artists and amateurs to leave pieces of art at random places -- on benches, cash machines or telephone booths -- for the next passer-by to pick up and take home if they wish.

It is absolutely free but there is a note with an e-mail address at the back if they want to thank their donor.

"Free Art Friday is a terrific idea," said artist Sean Hillen, whose photo montage prints were among the hundreds of items scattered around the city throughout Friday.

"I'm a strong believer that art is really for everybody," Hillen told state television. "Ireland has only really come in in the last generation to the idea that people could have and should have original art in their homes."

(Reporting by Andras Gergely, editing by Paul Casciato)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

From this inital article, and after a couple of discussions it was decided that the gallery and the Chamorro Artists Association would have a free art night of their own, a Free Art Friday to take place this Friday the 13th at the Guam Gallery of Art, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm. At least 13 artists, myself included will take part in the event, and in some way create free, public art, whether by making something which will be placed in the world for all to see free of charge, or by creating a lot of something and then allowing people to take it free of charge.

The Marianas Variety published an article this morning on the event, noting that one local artist said that this sort of event devalues artists and that he or she would not participate. I can understand this point, but on the other hand, artists and art at their best are community servants, underpaid and often times under appreciated ones, but they are meant to help stoke the fires of a community's imagination. To keep them mentally on their toes, to help them appreciate the world, to give them something they wouldn't expect, something new, something different.

For me, giving away free artwork is easy, I don't make massive bronze sculptures or hulking oil paintings, for this sort of activity I'll make some simple small original abstract paintings. Quick paintings that only take a couple of minutes, but which might make someone's day, might unlock a corner of someone's mind, might become a gift to someone they love (or hate depending on what painting they take). My relationship to art and art buyers on Guam has been a tenuous one.

Ten years ago, while attending UOG as an undergrad I tried to also be a full time free lance artist. I sold my work at the Chamorro Village, usually on a table in front of my grandfather's shop, I attended whatever fairs or festivals I could, although often times the price of the table was more than I would make selling there. I had two solo exhibitions, both at CAHA's Two Lover's Point Gallery. Right now, there are literally hundreds of my pieces floating around Guam right now. Everyone once in a while I come across some.

But my prices were always so low, and my subject matter so "foreign," that it really did become about love and providing for the community. I could have set higher prices, but then frankly no one would have ever bought anything, and I would much rather have my work out there appreciated, even if by someone who only paid a couple of dollars for it, then sitting in my closet or the trunk of my car. My work at that time was very abstract and so most people on Guam were looking for trongkon niyok or latte when they went art shopping, and so although I did have some pieces which reminded people of latte or trongkon niyok they usually had titles like "coconut tree being swallowed up by the hole in the universe" or "an island's trauma as if it were a cracked latte stone."

For the Free Art Friday, I've made a lino cut block, which I'll then make prints from. In the past few years, my art has circled around three subject matter, women's faces, sunsets and abstract images. But for Free Art Friday I decided to take a break from these types of images and chose instead to do a quaint scene of a karabao relaxing in the ocean at night. I hagga-hu Sumahi desperately loves karabaos and yells "bao bao" everytime she sees one, and so like most everything nowadays, I did it with her in mind.

I'm pasting the image here, but you can get a free original printing of it yourself by coming down to the Gallery on Friday night.


Finders, keepers
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 22:30
By Jennifer Gesick
Variety News Staff
Free Art Friday kicks off

STARTING Friday until the end of the month, you can own a piece of art-- for free. Hence Free Art Friday, a movement that started in Dublin, Ireland and has been adopted by Guam artists.

Free Art Friday is a simple concept where artists create a painting, sketch, sculpture or installation and leave it in public places or on the street. The artwork can be picked up by anyone who wants it, and finders are invited to email the artist.

For the artist, it gives them a chance to create work uninhibited by the requirements of commerce, because art is so often attached to a need by the artist to “make a living” and it is affected by gallery and dealer issues.

All artists whether producing static or removable art want to promote discussion.

“In Guam it always rains so we are going to put the art inside buildings,” said Filamore Palomo Alcon, owner/curator/artist of The Guam Gallery of Art in Chamorro Village and founder of the Chamorro Artist Association.

Free Art Friday will kick off this Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Guam Gallery of Art in Chamorro Village. At least 14 artists, including Alcon, have confirmed their participation in the project. Other participating artists and photographers are Monica Baza, Viktoria Sayrs, Mar-vic Cagurangan, Moe Cotton, Jason Palmertree, Tessa Borja, Rolly Zepeda, Tina Zepeda, Kristin Zepeda, Jacqueline Hernandez, Tim Hanley, Al Lizama and Michael Lujan Bevaqua.

Alcon said there were some artists who are against the Free Art Friday concept. “One artist said he will not participate in this event because he believes it is devaluing his art.”

He disagrees: “It’s not devaluing art if anything it’s the opposite. It is a good way for people to promote their art, and what is wrong with giving something away when we give away lots of art to charities. Everything good that is given away comes back to you two fold,” Alcon said. (By Jennifer Gesick)


Drea said...

Wow! This is awesome. I would've loved to participated, had I known. Hopefully I'll get off early enough to check it out though.

I give my paintings away because they mean a lot to me and I'd rather they go home with some one who truly loves it, then just some one who could affford it.

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achakma said...

People's art!


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