October 18, 2012
Today’s blog is aboutEgo, and how too much of it can be a bad thing, especially when you let it win out over common sense and possible career opportunities.
However, despite this penchant for endless self-promotion, I also strongly believe in the notion of an organized and committed Arts community working as a whole, and that’s where my rant starts- with the annual artistic gathering of the PAC, the yearly group show known as Chaos Theory.
Curated by fellow Artist Randy Slack, the latest incarnation of this always kick-ass exhibition is in it’s 13th year, and features over 60 artists from all the disparate genres of our local art scene. To draw an analogy, it’s the Super Bowl for PHX creatives, kicking off the Winter Arts season in a big way, and this year was no exception to that particular rule.
Normally, this affair comes and goes with a large modicum of goodwill, partially due to the after parties being legendary, the art being incredible, and just having the mere thought of talking non-stop shop to the PAC Tribe happily ensconced under one roof makes a Chatty Cathy like myself positively dippy.
But this year’s event contained something new within the standard mix- an air ofscandal, courtesy of painter Suzanne “Meow Meow” Falk’s tissue-thin ego, delivered in the manner of a bitchy Andre Serrano. Falk has openly been rumored to be the resident Drama Queen of the PAC for some time now, and her innate capacity for focused self absorption is something that even this Artbitch can’t touch on his best day.
And by way of an addendum, I think referring to yourself as “Meow Meow” with a straight face when you’re way past the age of fourteen is sort of absurd, but hey- maybe that’s just because I never had a really cool nickname when I was in High School, and I’m all like, bitter and stuff.
However, when it comes to her pride, I think this time she’s really outdone herself, and that is no small task where the PAC’s very own version of a crazy (yet artsy) cat lady is concerned. Even before I penned this latest screed, the Interweb was simply abuzz with the talk of it all, stirred on by thePhoenix New Times article recounting Suzy’s latest “shoot thyself in foot” fiasco.
[ NSFW Link:http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/jackalope/2012/10/suzanne_falk_randy_slack_chaos_theory_13.php]
Penned by my best buddy Claire Lawton, this latest tale of faux manufactured outrage chronicles a one-sided tiff (of sorts) between CT’s curator/host Randy Slack and Suzy over the unforeseen exclusion of her submitted painting wryly titled: “ In Heaven everything is fine.” The 7” x 5” painting depicts a group of young men masturbating in a formation commonly referred to as a “circle jerk”, something that fittingly describes Ms. Falks’ overreaction to being excised from the show.
Most Creatives in her unenviable position would have gone one of two ways; either they’d race back to their studio and grab a suitable backup piece to maintain a slot in the show, or they would have politely bowed out, attended the event anyway, and quietly grumbled to their friends about the unfairness of no one recognizing their obvious genius over clandestine drinks in the parking lot.
You know. Like a true professional. But that’s not Falk’s style.
I quote from the PNT article:
“Falk went home and posted on her Facebook page: “my painting for chaos theory was refused — i need time to choose my words for exactly what i want to say.” She blocked Randy Slack, and in 24 hours, more than 175 comments from the art community poured in. Accusations of homophobia and hypocrisy were common, but the main discussion turned to censorship.”
I myself have never submitted for CT, so I’m not sure if there’s a clearly defined Prospectus or not regarding the show, but I do know that at worst, this still strikes as an issue of miscommunication.
For his part, Slack seems way more genuine in his remorse that this situation has blown up the way that it has, and he’s definitely been more diplomatic in regards to addressing the issue. When I first chatted him up, he was stunningly complimentary about Falk, despite the heat being thrown his way via the NT forums and related article.
Personally, I think by her actively boycotting the show Suzy blew a huge opportunity to regroup in the way a true professional should easily be able to do, but in the end, a group show is at best, a benevolent dictatorship. There’s only room for one leader, one unified vision. Think of it this way- just because you’ve been invited to the party doesn’t mean that you have a hall pass to act like a boorish jerk.
Honestly. How hard would it have really been for her to just suck it up and take it on the chin? It’s not the end of days just because someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, unless your Ego is so fragile that you constantly need for it to be stoked just to be able to get through the day.
Note: Ididn’t say she isn’t talented, I just happen to believe that this particular piece isn’t up to her usual standards, and when viewed against her previous body of work, it’s glaringly obvious.
I’m also not smacking her down for trying to shake up her style either- branching out is essential for an Artist’s growth, and as a rule, it would be a cold day in Hell before I mocked a fellow Creative for attempting to do so, even if that attempt results in colossal failure.
Oh, would you look at that?
When it comes to critics, it’s always been my deeply held certainty that most critics are a lot like Ticks- they only feed when they draw blood, so they endeavor to do it as much as possible.
It’snever happened to me of course, but that’s what I’ve been told. (Rolls eyes.)
So, what terrible, appalling, dreadful, and simply inexcusable thing had Mrs. Vanesian said in reference to Suzy and her work? Well, as you can imagine, it was simplydripping with the kind of venom and ichors that can only form inside a critic’s misshapen and pustule ridden mouth.
Once again, from the article:“While Suzanne Meow Meow Falk’s The Defenders of Sweet Dreams displays the artist’s usual mastery of her medium, I just wish she would venture out of her comfort zone and mix a little acid with the sweetness of her nostalgic still-lifes.”
Um… wait a minute… that fairly innocuous statement was “it”?
Whenever my work has been criticized, I’ve always looked at the source from which it emanates and at what’s been said, before I decide on a course of action, which usually involves the uttering of several crude jokes at the expense of their mother, and blowing off what’s being alleged.
Don’t misunderstand, I normally loathe critics, as I’ve always felt that they’re legless men who teach classes in running, but this could hardly count as the worst review that Falk has ever gotten, and her reaction to this irrelevant piece of journalistic fluff was just pure egocentricity at it’s best.
Especially when you work in a market as small as Phoenix.
We don’t have the luxury of a consistent and thriving Patron base, nor do we have a large pool of professionally run galleries to choose from unless you factor inScottsdale, of course. The majority of the spaces that do exist are, by and large, run as hobbyist enterprises, and if you don’t believe me, just see how many are open when it’s not First or Third Friday.
Real businesses have business hours and are based on an economic model to remain both solvent and relevant, and that is so not the PAC’s approach, much to the detriment of our community as a whole. Factor in amateurish tantrums like Falk’s on top of the PAC’s half-ass approach to business, and you can see why the scene (overall) has very few dedicated collectors.
In regards to Kathleen Vanesian and her supposed “influence” on the PAC and it’s stable of talent, I will simply say this: look who she writes for- the Pennysaver with Porn. Hardly worth getting upset about, yet I constantly hear my fellow Creatives bitch about this or that concerning her writing, while usually griping about how they’re being ignored by her.
The only time I’ve responded to one of her reviews was when she wrote a rather blunt hatchet piece on Fausto Fernandez, and that was only on the NT forums, not within the confines of this blog.
Since I’ve never met her, I cannot possibly give you a sense of what kind of person she is, but writing about Art and stirring the pot is her job, and that she does do pretty well. Whether you agree with what she writes or not, it seems ridiculous to devote any energy defending yourself against someone who can’t affect you or your career one way or another.
In essence, she’s seemingly incapable of damaging the forward momentum of the truly talented, so why in the heck would Falk give a damn about currying the favor of someone who works for a non-entity where the reviews are tucked in-between strip club and car stereo ads?
Easy answer. Ego. No more, no less. As I stated earlier, I’m not saying she isn’t talented… but she’s not exactly the second coming of Michelangelo either, so let’s keep it in perspective, shall we?
However… didn’t she originally state that her piece was a reaction to a critique of the show written by NT’s critic Kathleen Vanesian? If this is true, at what point did she decide that rampant misogyny was a problem she had to finally address?
In all the years she’s been part of the show, I have never heard her mention once that this was a concern.
While I do agree that a double standard exists in relation to the display of male vs. female nudity, it’s also a fact that Slack rejected another painting by a male artist depicting a female nude- an act which I think sort of negates the accusation of ingrained misogyny, and as far as the homophobic slur, I have to laugh at the ludicrousness behind it.
One could cite the statistic that male nudes traditionally don’t sell as well, and while I’m not sure what the market for paintings of masturbating men is, I’d hazard a guess that it’s a very small specialty niche. The foremost buyers of my female images are gay lawyers, so you do the math on what’s considered socially and artistically acceptable among the paying clientele.
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about a nude marble sculpture, or a study done in charcoal, or even a modern woman’s take on male eroticism via molded body parts. It’s an ugly and listless painting showing a bunch of guys wanking off themselves and the others around them.
Not surprisingly, it backfired. People don’t like drastic change.
Sure, there’s been a load of free publicity, but will it be of use to her career? I really don’t think so, and I base my opinion on the following:
More frustrating is that even though many of the people that I talked to thought her behavior was disrespectful and unprofessional, they were still defending her actions, citing her talent as if it were some sort of golden ticket for acting like an ass.
A related aside…
One shining gem in particular, a part-time local furniture maker and full-time bald guy who goes by the name of “Mike Mikowski” posted several overly aggro comments on my FB page chastising me for having the audacity to possess my own POV on my own page.
Apparently, I’m supposed to only post pictures of kittens and links to videos of adorable babies laughing… who knew? I guess when he “friended” me, he only noticed my truly sexy avatar and somehow overlooked the fact that I tend to be rather blunt and speak my mind quite frequently.
Mike Mikowski:let it rest already
Thanks for stating your opinion, I do respect it, but I will be addressing this regardless.
I’d think not.
And its high time someone called her out on her drama. If I get heat for it- great. At least everyone will know where I stand, and that’s okay so far as I’m concerned. I’m part of the river in this town, so I’m allowed to have an opinion, and whether I address it publicly or privately is my business, I think.
I for one don’t need that shit on my facebook page.
To answer your “who made me the Behavior Police?” I say this: the same people that told you that you could be rude in my yard. My opinion is my own, and you’re allowed to disagree, but I’ll be damned if someone I’ve never met talks to me as if we’re best friends.
Unfriend me? Oh dear God no! Who ever would I talk to?
Oh, that’s right- my actual friends.
Best energies- you need them way more thanI.
God, I just love trulycivilizeddebate, don’t you? I’d also like to point out that as of this writing, he still hasn’t un-friended me, nor has he answered me back, so I guess we’re still really the bestest of buddies… for now, anyway.
Fair enough. We all make mistakes- even I will freely admit that, and I’m usually intractable when it comes to letting improper behavior and it’s consequences slide. Honestly, I did think of going easy and letting the whole thing fade off after reading their Email, but you know me, I just gotta keep digging when I think I’m on to something.
That’s an awful lot of premeditated steps for an accident, don’t ya think?
And if you manage to hit all the right notes, you may also have the pleasure of being escorted out of the building by a fifty year old woman who will sing a song she wrote especially for you, while she dances ala Fosse style.
That alone is worth the trip, and until you’ve seen Amy Silverman in full performance mode, you have no concept of what talent really isn’t.
I’ve always believed that if you have a score to settle, you take it to the source of the problem- you don’t subcontract the hit, nor do you use other people’s platforms to exact your revenge, especially when the so called slight you’re avenging isn’t worth getting upset about in the first place.
– Rejection is always a possibility. Not everyone will love you or your work. Accept it.
Suzy had a group show and needed to get a painting re-stretched and framed in time, and I offered to do it as a professional courtesy. So all goes well in that arena, and my GF Ashley and I wind up attending the show, mainly to see Matt Dickson’s work, of which I’m a big fan of.
During the show, we get to meet her then boyfriend, who overall- seemed like a nice cat. It was very nice, except for the fact that she came off as a little high strung about the vibe of the show. Because we live in the age of social media, both Ashley and I received FB friend requests from both of them.
I accepted for business reasons- since Suzy is one of the known Artists in town, I thought it would be good to at least be on a colleague to colleague level with her, and because of that, Ashley agreed to accept even though she didn’t know either of them.
And really neither did I, to be quite honest. This was strictly a business decision. At this time, I had maybe accumulated half an hours worth of actual conservation with her, and that over the last five years. So it’s not like we’ve ever been real friends, you know?
So flash forward a few weeks, and it comes to light that the boyfriend and Suzy had broken up, over a situation I will not divulge here, and Suzy apparently took it very hard. Once again, she turned to FaceBook to advertise what should have been a private matter.
She started posting continual and exponentially disturbing status updates ranging from the threatening to the bizarre, where she railed violently one moment and was contrite the next.
But it wasn’t that simple, as we both found out. Within 72 hours, Suzy discovered the fact that Ashley had dropped her, and the messages began… to me, strangely enough. Starting with a tone of almost frantic whininess, she wanted to know why “Ash” had done such a cruel and heartless thing.
[Perhaps it’s because her name is “Ashley”, not “Ash”- but I seriously doubt that’s the reason.]
Did I mention that I have a God given talent for hitting the “crazy as fuck” button in people? Good, because that info will come in real handy in about a minute or so.
The next message that I received (and the last one I actually read) had Suzy comparing herself to a blind, mewling kitten who was huddled in the corner, defenseless against the world.
Now, I don’t want to seem callous here, but give me a break.
I’m not a grief counselor, nor were my GF and I her friends. And thanks to FB, she already had access to group therapy, albeit an unwilling one. When she realized that Ashley wasn’t going to get back to her, she then dropped me and blocked both of us.
And with that, we come full circle, and to the end of our tale.
“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” – Denis Waitley