International Sculpture Center
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July/August 2005 Vol.2 No.6
A publication of the International Sculpture Center

Complete text in print version available at fine newsstands and through subscription.

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From the Director

Lately I’ve been hearing that the habit of collecting is now considered a lifestyle. Does that make sculptors lifestyle engineers? I also heard from attendees at a recent conference on art education that in the U.S. there are 30,000 MFA graduates a year. Is that possible, and if so how many will go on to become part of the wonderfully entertaining and novel lifestyle that is American culture? For some, wanting to be an artist has now become another path to exposure, little different from the desire to appear on “American Idol” or “Desperate Housewives.” While there is nothing wrong with fame and fortune per se, the majority of us don’t get the spotlight. Yet somehow lives are lived, careers blossom, and achievements are made and even rewarded.

The cult of the art star has grown enormously as the art market has inflated to gargantuan proportions. But I’m afraid that the pie is not shared equally by all. For those who don’t get seated at the table, what then? I think it is important that the pie be remade every few years: people who were previously left out are suddenly included because a show brings new attention to their work, a magazine article appears, or the forces of the zeitgeist, that very slippery character, conspire to bring neglected things into focus while last year’s must-haves drift into the background. Whatever else one learns over the years, one important lesson is that the list of “winners” is constantly changing and the soothsayers, be they MBAs, bankers, or collectors, change too.

I’ve always thought that the work of the artist was to make the work; the work for the rest of us was to discover it. Patterns of discovery are, of course, mostly personal and idiosyncratic. Some people plod through the galleries, others browse the Web, and some simply read all the art magazines they can find. The vehicles of discovery are manifold: collector, curator, critic, historian—each plays a part in the process of discovery and the process by which the discoveries are told and retold, shared both locally and globally. For every art world darling, there are countless artists making great work, exhibiting in wonderful surroundings, selling, and gaining critical recognition. Theirs is a parallel world behind the glittering stage of hype—a place of action, activity, and energy going at its own pace. All we have to do is walk through the glare of the spotlights to find them.

There is no better time to try new approaches or plunge into new territory than summer, when many of us retool, re-energize, relax, and escape from the routine of work and the responsibilities of rents, mortgages, and deadlines. For artists, summer marks another work schedule. It seems to be the time to move studios, if one is so fortunate, and continue to work near the sea or in the mountains. To work outdoors, if you’re lucky, or to at least to work late, each comforted by daylight savings time and warm weather. For the rest of us, it is a time to plan, imagine, explore, and make ready for new discoveries.

Michael Klein
ISC Executive Director

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