Monday, November 07, 2011

Jerry Saltz's "Clusterfuck Synchronicity"

Some folks love to grumble about Jerry Saltz. Whether it's his writing craft, his demeanor, or his decision to participate as a judge on Bravo's "Work Of Art" reality series, Saltz's haters always find something to bemoan. Whatever.

I don't know Jerry well, but I enjoy reading his reviews and I appreciated the two classes he taught at the School of Visual Arts. Saltz's proclivity for, in his words, "speak[ing] about art more directly and more often to anyone willing to listen [...] even if they didn't go to art-school or don't know the secret handshakes and lingo of the art world" distinguishes him from many of his professional counterparts. Admittedly, I'm biased by this populist attitude. As I wrote here a few months ago, "artists need to make art that connects to common human experience, and both artists and art writers need to communicate more effectively with the general audience." Saltz generally succeeds on that count, and he should be cheered for that achievement. But this very success often inspires his detractors because, in the eyes of some, fine art isn't meant to appreciated by the masses.

In the course of a recent interview with ArtInfo, Saltz expressed his disappointment with "the many who continually pooh-pooh art-galleries."
"For these complainers the art world is not good enough. Contemporary art is not up to their standards. They're always disappointed. I always want to say to these people, 'Go away. We can't help you.'"
The same goes for most of the Saltz haters, in my view. Go away. Help yourself. ("Most of," because a small minority of Saltz naysayers articulately and thoughtfully express their grievances and invest their energy in creating the type of criticism or point of view that they champion.)

The ArtInfo interview is short and worth a quick read. If you're a writer, some of Saltz's responses will be particularly resonant.
What's the most indispensable item in your office?
My doctor said, "You have almost no vitamin D in your system." I said, "Probably because over the last 12 years or so I barely go out of my house other than to see shows and buy deli coffee each evening to refrigerate for the following day." So, until my number comes in, the most important thing in my office is the picture window I sit next to all day, every day, and look at the world going by. 

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?
I believe in a sort of clusterfuck synchronicity. I believe anything and everything I'm reading, seeing, thinking, or talking about has something to do with whatever I'm working on at that exact moment. I pay very careful attention to all of these things and use as much of it as possible. It is no longer possible for me to look at something and not think, "This has something to do with my work."
I especially like "clusterfuck synchronicity." Thank you, Jerry. If you write it, they will come...for better and for worse.

Photo credit: NBC Universal, Inc., 2010


andrea said...

I, too, have the populist bias and function best by taking note of the synchronicities that magically seem to occur. But I've nbever heard it described as Clusterfuck Synchronicity. What a great term.

Donald Frazell said...

While Jerz isnt too bad at heart, his head loves to play too many games with his nouveau rich buddies, and parties are his way of life. this takes him away from real art, as well as real life as his vitamin deficiencies show. one must be balanced to comment on things that seek a unity of humanity, nature and god.

His god is Manhattan high society, not exactly the home of those who create, but those who take. Power and control and the desire to actually be that, when it is but a temporary state of fortune built upon avarice does not lead to good solid views of creative art. his soul needs some exercise, time to come out and be in life Jerz, then you can look back at wehre you werwe, and be truly quizical why you would enjoy Effete and exclusive social parties about submerged junk and pseudo literary nonsense, and washing machine exhibits at the Gug. Needs to be flushed. what a waste of materials,

These are the folks with the hugest carbon footprints and enjoy wasting our resources away in huge quantities to amuse themselves. It aint exactly a virtuous lifestyle, but that is but the butt of jokes to the Pharisees of art.
They know not what they do. Literally.
God help us.