Curated by Abigail Satinsky, A Modest Occupation is a touring exhibition of artist subscription projects that opened at The Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis in March and will travel to Transformer Gallery in Washington, DC in September/October 2013.
Economics, which Lord Keynes had hoped would settle down as a modest occupation similar to dentistry, suddenly becomes the most important subject of all. – EF Schumacher
Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. – Andy Warhol
Artists and other creative people who organize their lives around the arts have long dealt with the problem, question, and opportunity of money (or lack thereof) in myriad ways by invoking the very same resourcefulness they’ve applied to making art. They have formed cooperative living and studio arrangements, started their own businesses, become grant-writing virtuosi, begged, stolen, borrowed, and even invented their own currencies. Thinking about one’s own artistic practice as a small business is even more urgent in today’s economy where there are few public arguments for governmental funding for the arts beyond economic revitalization (as seen in the NEA “Art Works” slogan) at the same time that private giving is on the upswing via sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
There are now a network of artist-driven small businesses that commission works specifically for subscribers, using the models of Community Supported Agriculture or magazine subscriptions. Some are incorporated into nonprofits, others are stand-alone businesses for independent artists. Consumers often buy these works sight unseen based on an affinity with the spirit of the business or name recognition of the artists involved. But what about the art? How do we look at artworks made with the consumer in mind? Featuring works from art subscriptions across the country, this exhibition is an opportunity to look at these works as more than the byproducts of inventive business models. When viewed collectively, they evoke both the spirit of their distribution method and the art behind the network.
Featuring works from Alula Editions (Bay Area, CA) Art Practical Mail Art Subscription (San Francisco, CA), Community Supported Art Chicago, Community Supported Art Philadelphia, Community Supported Art Minneapolis, The Drop/NOLA (New Orleans), The Present Group (Bay Area, CA), Regional Relationships (Chicago), Silver Galleon Press (Chicago) and The Thing Quarterly (San Francisco, CA).
And a publication designed by Christopher Roeleveld.