Without Direction, Future Unclear for Growing Street Art Scene
These are the artists you should stop supporting: these guys actually said that if artists, like myself, can't afford to paint murals for free to get started (?), then we don't deserve to ever do the work:
“Public artists could at least be talking together about what the endgame is,” she says. “Should the city play a role? Should it not? Is there a way to share resources? Can once a year there be a convening around community development and public art, so that people could think about what direction the city is going in as it relates to public art?”
Golden believes these discussions are critical for building a sustainable strategy.
“It shouldn’t just be everyone out for themselves,” she adds.
Hooker and Moore, who have been working in Charlotte for over a decade, are skeptical of any organization that would impose bureaucracy on the current free-market process.
“I think competition breeds a more creative approach,” Moore says.
Hooker and Moore’s argument for maintaining the current system touches on familiar defenses of the free market. They’re opposed to handouts and strongly advocate the need to pay dues before achieving success, in part because that’s what they’ve had to do.
Rain echoes Moore’s concern. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to start just handing out opportunities to those who haven’t put in the legwork,” he says.
But Rain, Hooker, and Moore are among the most sought-after muralists in Charlotte, perhaps in part because they were already established when opportunity exploded. They occasionally have to turn work down due to demand, so they’re the least likely to benefit from a change in the current system. They’re also in the unique position of being able to play a curatorial role themselves."
I had the "opportunity" once to do a small mural for a gym in the university area of Charlotte, and not only was it not paid, but we even had to supply all our own materials. I turned it down because I could not afford it, but there were artists who did it, and several of them have gone on to do a lot more mural work. I've been offering to do mural work forever, I've done renderings of tons of my illustrations to give people ideas of what it would look like, but the only offers I got were from people expected ME to pay for the mural MYSELF, on THEIR business. There are a lot of established muralists who will never admit that they did this and still sometimes do this, when their ego tells them it is "good exposure."
A lot of people have wondered why I don't do murals---it's not that I don't, it's that they cost money and you have to get permission, and I don't have those things. The reason I ran full-speed away from the mural scene in Charlotte is because it is so dominated by super-misogynist dudebros who expect women to play along with their "I'm an asshole and it's so cool" schtick, and I refuse to do that. If people want to pay me to do a design on a wall, that is awesome, but I am not going to finance that myself to “prove” that I can do it, because wow that’s crazy. There are people who really believe that’s what you have to do—-that’s what these guys are referring to when they say “paying your dues.”
Not everyone can afford the hundreds if not thousands of dollars it takes to get invested in creating large-scale artwork—-it doesn’t mean our work isn’t worthy of being seen by the public in such a way. These guys think that because they have more money and resources and powerful friends, that their work is more worthy of being seen—-they EARNED the right, whereas I didn’t.
OH and full FULL disclosure, both the Matts themselves told me that they would definitely consider my work for mural projects they were curating, and I always told them I was most definitely interested, but they always passed me up---often for artists that have/had a lot less experience than me.
FYI, having guys like this dominate the scene is how that terrible tone-deaf Frida mural happened in Greensboro.