Saturday, February 6, 2010

George Fishman's Mosaic of Arts Blogtalkradio

Mosaic of Art Blog Talk Radio is the brain child of George Fishman, a veteran mosaic artist, and former editor of Groutline magazine. It cleverly opens at the mammoth Art Basel Miami, with George roaming the exhibits and stringing interviews with gallery owners/curators and artists of all stripes (painters, sculptors, photographers, holographers, etc.). The discussions range from artistic techniques, materials, and approaches, to the nitty gritty of contacting dealers and galleries, finding representation, or, for a gallery owner, selecting appropriate artists and "composing" a show. This opening sets the tone for the rest of the series.

There has been six episodes so far. George has interviewd artists and gallery owners, but he has also hosted Ariane Goodwin (artist coach), Richard Davis who commented on a slide show of mosaics that he had taken on his recent trip to India, Nancie Mills Pitpgras who blogs enthusiastically at Mosaic Art Now and is lovingly involved in everything mosaics, Judy Hoffman who run a youth center in Haiti where needy children are taught art (especially papier maché which can provide them with an income), Laurie Hoffman from the Greater Miami-Dade Adopt-a-Pet program of the Humane Society, and I must have forgotten some.

George's interviews dispel the false dichotomy between artist and artisan. Artists discuss their visions, their experiences, their dreams. They compare materials and techniques. They dwell in particular on the fabrication of their works. They also address the vagaries of the art market to which their livelihood is subjected. The picture of visual art that emerges out of these interviews goes beyond the romantic vision of a plain air painter who cares little about the "real world" and works in a quasi trance, best incarnated by the legend of Van Gogh. Talent and artistic vision may be the cornerstone of art, but the work itself cannot be realized without technique and know-how. And once they are realized, works of art still need to be shown and sold.

So far, the radio show has given mosaics a prominent place rarely found in the art world. We have heard Gina Hubler, Carlos Alves, Brit Hammer, and Eric Rattan.I am heartened by the fact that mosaics are discussed along other arts with which they share familiar considerations about techniques, materials, tools, forms, colors, inspiration, marketing, etc. It is, I think, a giant step in the right direction, and one I advocated in an earlier post. And indeed, Gina Hubler mentioned that galleries are more likely to be receptive to mosaics than they were a few years back. SAMA, about which I shall write another time, is another venue that brings mosaics to the attention of and in a dialog with the art world.

The "ghettoisation" of any field is its kiss of death. I have learned that much in my long academic career: universities and programs encourage multidisciplinary approaches, and scholars who once spent their life on one narrow subject or one writer (I come from literature) now offer courses in which the same writer or subject is examined in context, through various disciplinary filters, along with other signs of his/her times. Mosaics are not there yet, and I suspect that George's current listeners are primarily artists, perhaps even primarily mosaic artists; but it is only the beginning and I am sure that many more art lovers, artists and non-artists, will find their way to the pages of Mosaic of Arts Blogtalkradio.