A question has come up repeatedly over the past few weeks: "who are you represented by?" and the answer is: "no one." It's true! We may have cracked the code in how to achieve recognition for Matt's work via social networking, but this is only part of the puzzle. For years he has put together a body of work - say 12 paintings - and put together submission packets to send out to galleries only to wait months for the rejection letters to come in. They are all kept neatly in a binder titled "REJECTION".
I have always suspected that trying to get in with a gallery is playing the game of "who you know" as Joanne Mattera recently posted. I guess the question is, will this project fall under the ears and eyes of those who care enough to bring it that much further into the seemingly impenetrable art market, or will we continue to get recognition from art bloggers and the MSM? Should we be content with the occasional commission and/or sale of a finished portrait and call this project a success? I don't know the right answer, but I do think about it constantly.
In all honesty, recognition from galleries and inquiries from them about representation is a mark of validation for any artist, and Matt is no different. Today's artist are churned out of University MFA program's in such a formulaic manner that it is very difficult to be recognized as an artist if you don't follow the same path. When Matt and I met, I was working for a contemporary arts center in Seattle as an assistant curator and associate producer. Nearly every artist we exhibited was stamped with modicum approval just by graduating an MFA program. It's not to say that hard work and dedication to your education should mean less, but the lack of having that degree should not hinder ones ability to progress either.
As the art market continues to feel the impact of the deepening recession, gallerists, dealers, and critics, I feel, should look to what the artists are doing in areas of social media because that's where the buzz is, and I suspect, that's where it will remain. Clearing their shelves of emerging artists and sticking to the old standby only hinders the progress of art. The long-term effects of stagnation in terms of arts' progress are far greater than taking a risk on a relatively unknown, unstamped artist. Call it what you will, but I think we are all trying to connect with one another to make something out of this economic mess that is relatively positive, innovative, and uplifting. Progress only exists if people make it.