With three shifts completed and some additional touring of the show, I'm ready to compile my top 10 list for the latest installment of Artomatic. The work is generally better this time than in 09, which was better than 08. There are probably 50-60 artists making really good work that would fit in at better galleries. In fact, many of the participants do have representation at these galleries.
There is a whole lot of work that seems pretty close to being there but for me there was something missing. A large percent of this group made ambitious work that was competent but lacking either a level of polished craft or originality. There were so many works that were well crafted but the content was so obvious that I just couldn't get interested. The inverse was true with really good ideas not crafted appropriately to convey the content. In short these came off as good student work to me, regardless of age or experience of the artists.
I find it interesting that there are a number of artists making what I would consider commercial work such as landscapes and portraits that I found really nice, often compelling. Stuff I think I would usually walk right by. There is still good territory to mine in those fields.
As expected, the glass artists were some of the best in the show. A few will make my top 10 and a couple may not just because I don't want most of my list to be glass.
Art blogger Lenny Campello has noted that there seems to be less porn and nudity this time around (he also noted the quality of glass). There is still plenty there and, except for a few exceptions they do nothing for me. It is amazing to me just how unsexy some of this work is. I keep thinking, just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do it.
There is a lot of bad work too. I get the same feeling sometimes at Artomatic that I do with the opening rounds of American Idol. Don't these people have friends that say, "No way man- You're just not any good." Its interesting that music is such a part of our lives and there are certain qualitative benchmarks that most people understand like playing/singing in tune that we can easily provide that "No Way, Man" speech. But perhaps, since art is not as much a part of our everyday lives- at least on a conscious level, these qualitative factors are simply not understood by most. This may be why folks will look at a Pollock and think they could do it. There seems to be a need for some to express themselves and there also seems to be a ready and willing support group in the visual arts field (and I would add poetry). A lot of bad art could look like "Art" to the layman and I would guess the entire support network.
Another bad art observation, why would someone pay $110 dollars and spend time working shifts to write or post a bunch of crap on their walls.
Overall, its a pretty good showing- hell, a day in Chelsea will usually only net about 3-4 shows that were worth the time so having 50-60 in one place is quite good.