Visual Art Commentaries

Political Clout for the Visual Arts
Virginia Hoffman, SRQDaily  December 24, 2011

Precisely 20 years ago, a small group of visual artists started an organization called Artarget with the agenda of establishing a presence and exhibition opportunities for emerging artists. The genre of our art was Avant-garde, as “cutting edge” had not yet made its way into the art world lexicon. Our first exhibition was a huge success. Four hundred people attended our opening, with a steady stream of visitors to the weeklong exhibition and credible reviews, (yes there were once art critics in Sarasota). Artarget established the first visual arts presence in the Arts Day and we achieved our goals by word of mouth, as the Internet did not factor in back then. The group eventually faded and, until now, the underlying value of our group has been lost. My reflections on the year 2011, which I thought of as a tipping point year, started with the promise of the progressive Festival Committee. But nothing changed in regard to establishing reliable support for the visual arts. Instead, we got kitsch statuary and all promises of economic incentives were laid in shaky hands with little grasp of aesthetic standards. Worse yet, the small amount of opportunities for local visual artists still seem to get farmed out to outsiders. The single exception, Dennis Kowal won the purchase award for the Intersections public art project. Can this change in 2012? I still yearn for the establishment of a higher aesthetic ideal for our visual arts that is part of a process imbued with transparency and accountability. This has been missing as leadership is seduced by proposals slapped on the table loaded with social and political currency but with little connection to assisting the local community of artists to grow and prosper. Rather, our monies flow to outsiders who have no investment in our city. Since Artarget days, a new generation of artists has emerged. They are more knowledgeable of politics and influence. My wish for them is to unite; it’s the only way to create “Political Clout for the Visual Arts.”