Topic: Pete Morris: Expressing Opinions (2013)
One hundred and seven articles about a diverse number of artists, art events and exhibitions. It's been so much fun and endlessly fascinating.
I have to thank all the talented artists who have allowed me to write about them and their work. Thanks to the artists who have generously granted me access to their busy studios, given me insights into their thoughts and their art making process. It has also been a real treat to see their work exhibited in galleries around Tauranga and further afield.
Our art community is filled with so many creative personalities. They're vibrant people who hold strong opinions on what art is or isn't, what should be happening, who ought to be doing what and how it should be done.
The debates and discussions are often very vocal and reflect the dynamic nature of art and the people involved in it.
Owen Dippie's Madonna - Tauranga harbour bridge
One current issue is the need to formulate a Tauranga City public art policy to decide what art we residents should be living with and what public art best represents our city to others. Public art helps define the life of a city and cool heads and open minds need to prevail when decisions are made for the future. There is an open public art forum about Tauranga's public art at the Tauranga Art Gallery at 5 p.m. on Tuesday 14th May.
Often Tauranga's art discussion isn't open and members of the art community mutter amongst themselves seemingly afraid of expressing an opinion publicly because they fear treading on toes or upsetting the decision makers in positions of influence.
There is a danger when ideas aren't communicated openly and this often leads to misunderstandings.
When people take sides they often only see half of the overall picture.
In the last few months I've blogged some opinions and asked some questions.
My Inbox and interactions with dozens of people in our art community since then show a huge number of differing opinions in response to those blogs*.
This is exciting and a positive sign. The conversation is the important thing.
Online, some have chosen to attack the personalities involved instead of the arguments presented under the cover of a pseudonym and this is their right. Others have been more forthcoming and add their names to their views.
When I wrote about the charges for exhibiting at the funded Creative Tauranga Community Gallery recently, based on figures from a document released in late 2012, the comments in the blog where aimed at policy and not at individuals.
Questions need to be raised, especially of funded entities, and those we place in trusted positions need to respond in a timely fashion both openly and professionally.
When the judging of Tauranga Art Gallery's Mile's Awards is discussed I expressed an opinion that the Director of the gallery should not be on the judging panel. It is not an attack on an individual but posing a question about the present process and matters of perception surrounding that process.
When the costs for the Hairy Maclary sculptures is discussed it isn't an attack on Dame Lynley or her fabulous creation but about asking questions about costs and a possible funding hand up for our local sculptors.
Majestic pou whenua - Levers Road, Matua
One concerned local artist, and to his credit he questioned me upfront, asked, "Where will it all end Pete and what will you write about next ?''
At first I thought this was the beginnings of thinly disguised attempt to influence what I should and should not be writing about. A little arrogant given I wouldn't try to influence what the subject matter of his paintings should be.
The query is legitimate because the opinions have been expressed openly and publicly through a popular online news provider - opinions that have a bearing on those who are involved with the visual arts in a young city.
So long as blogs are relevant, offer balance and don't attack individual artists or their ability to make a living the online conversation surrounding the visual arts in Tauranga has merit.
As for, 'What next?' It depends on time, inclination and newsworthiness.
I'm hoping that the art conversation will grow and more people will become involved in expressing their views openly by blogging, writing newspaper columns or letters to the Editor.
In this way an art awareness will grow, hopefully increasing activity in our fledgling art market and stimulating the growth of a more interesting and colourful place to live.
The Cargo Shed on Dive Crescent could be a significant Tauranga art space. There has been considerable upset recently about proposed changes. With reputations on the line let's hope the 'new look' Cargo Shed will be a success for the planners, those implementing the plan, the new stall holders and for Tauranga art.
by Pete Morris (May 2013).
Pete Morris is an occasional painter and an art lover. He is a freelance writer with a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.