Do we really care about art?
For the past week, I’ve been in Bologna, Italy, for a series of meetings and workshops. It was only on Saturday that I had a free afternoon and used the opportunity to see something of that gorgeous city. The timing was pretty good. There was an exhibit on the work of Hugo Pratt and his famous graphic novel character Corto Maltese; a show featuring over 200 less well known works of Salvador Dalí; and an exhibit of Mexican 20th century art featuring works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera among others.
The photo above is the scene in front of the Palazzo Albergati. It’s a queue of people waiting to get into the gallery to see the Mexican art exhibit. It would take hours to get in, hours I didn’t have, so I decided to skip it and see as much as I could. I did manage to get into Palazzo Belloni after only about half an hour wait in line with elderly couples, students, families, and even a bunch of sketchy looking skeets all eager to see the Dalí exhibit.
Next time when the government cuts arts funding or removes culture from the name of the department that is supposed to help us create more of it -and it surely will- as we raise hell, we should also ask ourselves why is nobody lining up in front of our galleries. In what ways have we failed and allowed art to become irrelevant to so many outside of the art circle? We need more than just money, we desperately need a public that cares. How we get there is mostly up to us, but it may require a braver, less self-referential and more engaging art.
On a lighter note, you should also know that the Italians line up for ice cream confirming my lifelong belief that good ice cream is indistinguishable from good art.