The Fame in Art

by Andrea Auten

If art had no fame, would it be more vast? I wish art had no fame. Stardom is not an evaluative outcome that proves talent. Fame and art are not fraternal. They have no recognition of each other. Two painters could ride an elevator to separate floors, one getting out on the lowliest hovel floor, painting twenty-two hours a day with coffee meals and blaring dub-step, and paint with splatters and chaos of such greatness. Only the canvas receiving it and the ocular response to it appreciate this art. The other painter could exit onto the top floor sky-view expansive apartment, splattering the same sort of mess across muslin and wood. This painter has a keen smile, connections, and a charmed life, chosen for celebrity. This celebrity artist is considered the success. Celebrity is not art.

More than before, I feel this tug; this threat that I am not succeeding unless I am known. Somehow being known is now considered talent. Your good blog, his great tweet, her-look-what-vegan-feast-I-am–about-to-ravage; digital attention craving. I believe we are confusing success with the act of creating art. We must not.

Living in Los Angeles only increases this dismaying myopia. Slender youth with its beachy waves and bronzed velvet skin greets by asking with unchecked rudeness, “Who ARE you… what do you do in The Biz?” It dismisses the answer with a tongue cluck or vituperous tweet. What am I if I am not someone newsworthy?

I may have been doomed from the start. There is a certain ache and longing in those of us who share skills with a famed-talented parent. I have seen the similar pained look of want in siblings of famous siblings, driving us to match, if not exceed the talents of the famed one who shares our DNA. More and more it seems that I am nothing if not my maestro father’s daughter. It is the identity that grounds me, but the pursuit to claim my corner of the stage has never been for fame. It is not for celebrity. It has been to ex-press art with the ease and confidence that he did and to have that art received by a community outstretched hands.

There should be a circle of artisans who desire to give to the collective because it is sacred. The transformative exchange of creativity should be our breath, our food. I believe the pressure to provide and maintain a social media platform can impede artistic growth. A watching public requires circumspection. If we measure everything we say against the prudent need to be careful, we lose our fire. Censorship finds a new avenue through peer review.

Artists must fight for autonomy, building venues to share our work without the forced requirement of celebrity status. Our country is stuck in a cyber popularity contest, making demands on its artists to fill a hero-worshiping need. Where celebrity is mandatory, art dies. Nameless and faceless art: what would that look like? Actuate it. Get out your drums. Find street corners. Post an entire body of work with fellow artists anonymously. Find a circle of like minds who create for change. Make art reverberate.

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