Visual Art Commentaries

Artists Flex Facebook Muscles
VIRGINIA HOFFMAN SRQ Daily October1,2011

Facebook is the new “grass roots equalizer” for visual artists establishing themselves in Sarasota. During my coming of age period here, generating an income without a formal gallery association was impossible. Today, artists promote themselves using social networking and it seems to work well for savvy players. Specifically, the renegades with abundant visual spice who in real world social circles might be the round pegs that can’t fit in the square hole. How does this new beast do it? Brian David Braun, a single dad who lives in Port Charlotte, manages to land lucrative wedding photography gigs, shoot gorgeous fashion models and produce an endless thread of edgy fine art photos of which he treats his “Friends” 24/7. His success seems rooted in his ability to offer an intimate view of his here and now. One day he dominates, the next he remains cryptic, making you want more. Uprise Art Collective has the willowy April Donor at its heart. She deflects the leadership tag while she drives the conversation. The group recently held an exhibition at the Ivy Lounge reminiscent of Max’s Kansas City. Uprise was recently born inside the “public group,” a smaller Facebook universe joining people of similar interests which provides members with a daily sharing. April calls it “building community,” resulting in artists working together to take their art public. Strength in numbers can be magical. My first look at Ringling student Van Jazmin was as he was reciting his poetry at an exhibition organized at the Crocker Church. Normally, I ignore event invitations on Facebook due to overkill, but when I saw Van’s simple invitation written in a small voice, it redirected my evening plans. At his young age, Van seems to understand how to create an exhibition that showcases art rather than serving as an excuse to hold a party. These three are not bling bling incubators but examples of “Internet Based Grass Roots.” Absent of conventional advertising, IBGR is something new still being defined. A success infused with the comfort of a gossip over a picket fence, a hand written letter and the kind of marketing you can’t afford to buy.