Delta 32: When the Jazz Man Testifies The Wise Man Believes…

the final instalment of...
Abridged 0 – 4: An(other) Irishman in New York

Curator Greg McCartney, selecting for a 2007 Context project, continues his reports from an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Residency in New York.

Well, Sky Sports, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The Express, The Mail and all your so called football ‘experts’ contained within – Your boys took a hell of a beating! Champions Chelsea again! Sorry about that, had to get that off my chest. And welcome Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko. The world’s best. Don’t need to say more. So I won’t.

So this is pretty much my last entry this side of the ocean. The project at this end is nearly complete. I’m happy the way it’s turned out. I’ve met a lot of people; saw much art in many studios and many galleries. It’s been very beneficial and I’m pretty certain I will return. I’ve worked hard (ok nobody will actually believe me when I say that and isn’t working down a coalmine but still…) and I’m hoping that the project gets funded and that Derry sees some damn fine artists and some damn fine art (sorry for the Twin Peaks terminology – a damn fine show.). Is there any lessons to be learned to take back home? Hmmm probably is, though they tend to become apparent in time rather than anything startling and revelatory. We currently operate in a different sphere where thankfully it’s isn’t imperative on us to sell though in the future who knows what will happen.

My impressions of New York? Well, a great city, an untidy city, a noisy city, an angry city (see previous blog for the reasons) a diverse city (you can’t possibly realise how diverse until you get here) and a city that has too many galleries. Never thought I’d here myself say that, but bloody hell there’s a lot. If all that was important was the exhibition itself this wouldn’t be such a problem but when the need to sell is uppermost, well you tend to get a lot of dodgy abstract paintings with a lot of red dots appearing beside them. So imaginative artists don’t really benefit from the vast number or if they do they have to come up with something saleable. There are notable exceptions (see previous blogs for examples) of course. Could I operate in this arena? Probably could though coming from the public background I tend to think in terms of ‘show’ rather than what will sell. But with a space and some money (much easier said than done) I think I could do something over here. (Go West…Life is Better there…Go West…In the Open Air…and all that!) Hasn’t everyone from Columbus onwards said that though? Mind you, still even at this stage haven’t got the hang of the food thing!

It’ll be interesting to discover fully what’s been happening at home and to immerse myself in the deluge of funding form filling again. The OBG controversy has succumbed to real world politics as was inevitable I suppose. We’ll await developments on the newly reopened space with interest and won’t say ‘told you so’ if museum type things occur.

It was great seeing so many studios and talking to so many artists. Sadly of course the remit of the project meant that all the work I saw, even though it was interesting didn’t always fit. It’s often hard to get away from the form filling so visiting a million converted warehouses and factories was beneficial. Also there could be some lessons for establishing studios learned from here. For example there’s a set of studios right in the heart of Manhattan loaned to an artists organisation by the company that owns the (very plush) building. Basically they’ve given them a very (ahem) basic floor, which has been simply divided up but hey with workable and wide lifts it seems pretty good to me. Maybe there could be some similar avenue explored in Derry?

Thanks are due in no small way to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Declan Sheehan of Context Galleries who are responsible for me being here. Thank you kindly.

Well this is a shorter piece to end on than usual because the author is now going to operate in fully fledged tourist mode. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty awaits…So Goodbye, and Abridged 0-3: Romance & Assassination(that confused you! – see previous blog for explanation) will appear very soon as will the first Abridged public art project, Abridged 0-5.

Have A Nice Day!

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