Drawing by Will from Los Angeles.

Drawing by Will from Los Angeles.

ASK BABS

Talent and Revisionism

Got Talent?
Dear Babs, I painted this one week in 1969 and have barely lifted a brush since. Should I take it up again?  
—Will, Los Angeles

Dear Will, Depends…is that supposed to be JFK? If so, perhaps leave the brush alone. But seriously Will, you should pick up that brush only if you want to. Being an artist today does not even require any talent or skill. And really, you seem to be quite talented, if you were going for a real likeness of a human face. You’ve got the eyes in the right place (most amateurs place them high on the forehead). You went to the trouble to dig this painting up, and then write me, so I would say yes, go buy some paint to go with that dusty brush.
 
Revisionist
Dear Babs, I went to an art school that has been the breeding ground for many flourishing artists since the 1970s. It was a wonderful experience, and I have many fond memories of it. But subsequently a problem has arisen repeatedly: in interviews (including in Artillery) successful artists who went there rewrite the history of the school and announce that there were no painters or women, when those of us who were there at the same time know that this isn’t true. Artists have done this since the beginning of history; Giotto was probably the one who first pushed the story that he was discovered as a shepherd boy. But besides distorting art history, it’s incredibly irritating to have someone erase your personal history (and you). How can one gracefully deal with this without coming off as shrill or boorish?  
—Emmett, Los Angeles

Dear Emmett, This sounds quite irritating to me. If indeed this person is telling tall tales that falsify art history, I think the record really does need to be set straight. I would confront this person, and tell them you don’t appreciate the revisionism, mainly to boost his or her profile. And if you and a few of your friends have talked about this, you should get together and tell the artist to start giving you a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T; I feel numbers are good for this approach. This kind of misinformation can go a long way and be harmful in the end, since published material will often stand for fact. Don’t waste any time. Confront this person with your other invisible artist friends. Who cares if this person thinks you’re boorish or shrill. They certainly didn’t think about your feelings when they were leaving you out of the picture.

Babs Cares.
Please email your questions to askbabs@artillerymag.com