The first video "Passing the Torch" shows the last legitimate annual meeting of the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild and Guild board. They are voting for their new president and officers. With a treasury of $50,000 and rapid growth to over 600 members, the Guild was at a high point in its 75 year history. This occurred despite the fact that the new director of the SDMA, Don Bacigalupi, refused to allow the Guild to be involved in exhibitions in the museum anymore, after over 75 years of continual shows of not only its own membership, but exhibitions featuring art from throughout the state.

 

The second video "Democratic Art Exhibition" is the artists answer to having their shows removed from the museum. It is the 2002 Democratic Exhibition. The artists and invited art historians voted on which works out of more than 480 submissions were to be in the exhibit. The vote took place in the SDMA, with only the image and size presented, allowing for no media bias amongst the voters, just the best images to be selected. The voters marked 1 - 9 for each piece, with the highest scoring art selected. The show was held in the Boehm Gallery at Palomar College, July 13th - August 30th, 2002, featuring the top 92 selections. Three prizes were given out to the work that received the most votes and a Community Choice award, voted on by viewers of the show, was also awarded. Great hope was held for this to be the future of art selection, not only for competitive shows, but also in screening the selection of public art. People doubted that artists could vote as they "would only vote for themselves and their friends." But that is not the case. Artists are very sensitive to the presentation of their work and would vote for the art they wanted their work to be seen with.

 

A little more than one year later, the Guild, the cofounder of the museum itself, lost its seat on the SDMA Board of Trustees, which it held for over 75 years, democratic shows were banned, the treasury squandered, and the past-president was banished from the museum. Over 70% of the members subsequently left the organization.

 

The artists were up against a feudal art world run by a medieval system of "inbred royalty." The selection of art today is based on fashion, who you know, what academy you attend or teach at, and market trends. It has little or nothing to do with the quality of the work, as judged by the artists themselves, those who actually know what it takes to come up with an original concept and what level of skill is involved in the creation of art. This flies in the face of all other endeavors today and is a throwback to ancient times. The original Olympics only allowed the children of the wealthy to participate, until the competition mandated that "farmboys" be allowed to compete. The ancient Greeks evolved beyond such elitism, but today almost all the art institutions and artists cling to belief and theories about art that are irrelevant in the real world. The consequences of this continued practice is that the publics impression of art and artists is at its lowest state in history. Art is not important enough to be taught in many schools, artists don't get fair compensation for their work, artists are denigrated in the media, art institutions struggle for their funding, and the art community is fractured into little fiefdoms, not cooperating with each other, and jealously holding onto control their minuscule territories. This exhibition was our Magna Carta and it was only the beginning.

 

The San Diego Visual Artists Guild continues the work for fair treatment and compensation for artists and democracy in the selection of art, with artists, art historians, and art professionals all working together.

 

The third video was shot during the San Diego Visual Artists Guild sponsored art extravaganza held at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park on opening day October 1, 2005. There were three simultaneous exhibitions. The first was an invitational on the 2nd floor, the second a wildlife art competition on the 4th floor, and that weekend, in the atrium, several wlidlife artists from throughout the country presented their work. There was also a live band and party on the rooftop. Over 1000 people attended this opening and the show was a ground breaking success. Thousands upon thousands of people saw hundreds of works of art produced by local artists and were amazed at the depth of talent within our community. Thousands upon thousands of school children got to see and enjoy art in a form they could easily recognize and appreciate.

The fourth video was shot during the 2007 Carlsbad Masquerade, a special Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale of 40 world-class regional sculptors, the proceed of which were to benefit the Outdoor Art Foundation.

Passing the Torch & Democratic Art Exhibition

$1000 Grand Prize Winner
$500 Community Choice Award Winner
Article in the North County Times

 

An Instant Past by Greg KIamt

Till We Meet Again by Maher Morcos

by Sandra Kraisirideja

 

Photos of the Voting & Exhibition

San Diego Natural History Museum Opening - 2005

All these videos were filmed by Elfred Lee

Carlsbad Masquerade & Sculpture Exhibition - 2007 Outdoor Art Foundation