Etiquette for Artful Living


Dear Babs, I’m thinking about leaving the U.S. and moving to Berlin because this country is about to explode and also because everyone says Berlin is better for artists. Is this true? How would I go about making this move?
—Thomas Newton, Los Angeles

Dear Thomas, I feel your pain. I’ve actually looked into my heritage to see if I can obtain dual citizenship; I’m half Italian. But then I thought of that disastrous regime in Italy. I’m a fan of Mexico, but they have troubles too. Maybe Berlin looks good now, but must I remind you, not so long ago (in relative terms), people were fleeing Germany!

Who’s to say where it might be safe these days. No doubt the situation here in the States is deplorable, but are you sure it’s better elsewhere? We elected a horrible president, and now we have to work on fixing that. Maybe we were silent and content too long, and now it’s time to pick up the pieces.

Do we run away from our troubles, or confront them? Do we leave everyone else to make it all better?

You say you’re an artist. Would you be a better artist working in an environment where you feel safer? Are you wanting to paint still lifes in cheerful sunny Berlin? How in danger are we? More than anyone else in the world?

It’s important to feel safe, but running away is not an answer. Sure, if you want to go out and experience the world, by all means, go to Berlin. Go to Amsterdam. Go to Tahiti. But I think in the end, running away is not the right approach.

Our country has been spoiled in a lot of ways. And American contemporary art shows it. We’ve had way too much decoration, way too many shiny artworks, way too many fabricated, over-the-top, ridiculous art.

You seem like a sensitive soul, why don’t you be brave and stick it out? We need some real change in our country. We need people around like you to help put it all back together again. Please don’t cop out… get involved. Know what? I bet you’re gonna make some powerful art, right here in America.

Babs cares.
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