One of the best things about attending art fairs and open studios events is how much you learn about the artists who produce the work that you see. It’s one of the advantages that these types of exhibitions have over traditional museum exhibits and gallery shows. I really enjoy the one-on-one conversations with artists, and I always come away with new insights i to how artists think about the work they produce.
Today, though, I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the table, as a participant in the The Art of Living Black Open Studios Weekend at Mills College. I had a lot of great conversations with interesting and thoughtful people, several of whom were artists themselves. Indeed, one of the greatest things about the day was how much I learned about art lovers. I got some great and unexpected insights into who loves art and why. In particular, I had some fascinating discussion about what fans and collectors of Black American art want and expect from today’s artists of African descent.
The man in this picture was a pleasure to speak with. He was very interested in discussing what it meant to make a collection of drawings that focus on African American men. He was both curious about and skeptical of my motives, and though I explained my interest in the subject matter as clearly as I could, he seemed neither convinced of or comfortable with my rationale.
Still, he seemed to like the images I presented. This highlighted for me one of the wonderful contradictions of art — that you can truly love and appreciate a work of art, even if it makes you angry or uncomfortable.