Controvesial art

tshirtAs I was ego surfing some time ago, I stumbled across a quote about me that I just fell in love with.  "Larry Moss is a hack -- I see no dachsunds." The quote turned up on and all it had for an attribution was a username, rob511. Rob511, if you're out there reading this, thanks. You made me smile. I saved that quote, waiting for an appropriate time to use it. That time has come. I thought of it as my trip to Grand Rapids approaches and more ArtPrize information has been circulating. ArtPrize voter registration has begun. Voters will have an opportunity to vote "up" or "down" on any entry. You can read about the "up" and "down" votes on the ArtPrize site. The gist of it is that a "down" vote, while not being included in a piece's total votes and therefore not affecting its chance of winning or losing, may help determine how controversial a work is. As I read that explanation, I wondered what sort of controversy they expected. Being the sort of person to be egosurfing, you can imagine that I found a way to identify myself as a "controversial" artist. I'll find a way to place myself in the spotlight any way I can. Why can't there be controversy over my work?

I recently wrote about  how my work is often considered something that is "like art". While I assume rob511's comment was tongue in cheek (at least, that's how I read it), it sums up an attitude that is common about balloons and the art created with balloons. That is, balloons should be used to make dogs and cats. That feeling about balloons has, at times, caused trouble for me.  I haven't been able to get funded by grants in some situations because I'm not creating art, according to some funding organizations. But could this really be the sort of controversy that ArtPrize organizers had in mind?  Quite possibly yes, if Facebook discussions are to be taken seriously.

Every week, ArtPrize hosts an artist chat on its Facebook page. The artist selected for the chat is chosen by Facebook members that are fans of ArtPrize. Any fan can simply chime in with their vote for someone that they'd like to learn more about. The last couple weeks were interesting. I came in a close second last week to Matthew Stork, another artist whose work I find quite interesting. (It's really hard to be disappointed about not being selected when there are so many interesting artists out there.) One ArtPrize fan posted in great frustration that so many "clowns" were voting for me. She seemed to be one of those people that only associates balloons with clowns. Sure there are a lot of clowns among my supporters. Likewise, some of my favorite entertainers are clowns. Many clowns do use balloons. And clowning is something I did in the past. But to suggest that only clowns are interested in my work, or that clowns being interested in my art somehow makes my art less valid is a little disturbing. I wonder if any of these concerns will come up this week now that I've been selected for the final artist chat.

I've drawn, painted, blown glass, folded paper, created digital artwork and played with a variety of other media. I've always returned to balloons as my primary medium. I like the fact that balloons are so accessible to everyone. I've learned to create with balloons in ways that I haven't been able to with other materials. Some people will always see a balloon as just a child's toy. I don't need to change their minds. I'll keep sharing my work and teaching my art to people that are as fascinated by my medium as I am.

If you're in or have reason to visit the Grand Rapids area, I'd love for you to come and visit my work at the Furniture Campus Building (560 Fifth Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Make sure you register to vote while you're in Grand Rapids. You can vote when you get home, but you have to register at an official voter registration location in the city for your vote to be counted. I'll be building the sculpture September 20-23. Stop in and watch the construction. There will also be an opening reception and artist demos in the building. Make sure to visit my calendar to see when I'll be on site for details of those events. There's still room in the class I'm teaching on September 23. Please make sure to let me know if you're interested.