Past Comments

September Issue 2006
by Tom Starland

Hard To Focus

I'm having a little trouble writing a commentary this month. Oh, it's not that I don't have something to say or don't have an opinion about something going on in the visual art community in the Carolinas. There is always something - believe me. It's just that with today's headlines it's a little hard to concentrate on issues that seem pale in comparison.

In our world, these (art community) issues are important - to us and hopefully others, but outside of our world - others have their attention on other things - three major wars in the Middle East, the ongoing hurricane season, rising gas prices, threats of terrorism from outside and within, rising temperatures, and for some - the upcoming football seasons - college and pro. It seems only a few months ago we were told to worry about bird flu - what happened with that? Or, is it the next shoe to drop.

These things are important to us too, but it's hard to get past the worry of how is all of this going to effect what goes on in the visual arts. Will people still go see exhibits, will they still buy art, will they contribute to the arts?

Some say that the arts are a good distraction from what ails you or the world. They say the arts act as an oasis from all of it - even if for just a little time, but how much can people take?

I'm not an alarmist, I'm too laid back for that, but I think we must keep in mind the world situation - the state of the planet - when thinking of our future - that is the future of the art community and how all these worldwide factors and regional factors will effect us.

Some would say - well there's not much we can do about the weather or what goes on in the Middle East, thousands of miles away, but it's not true. We play a part in everything that goes on - it's the price we pay for being Americans. We have our hands in everything - some invited and some not.

Some would say - what's that got to do with the arts, much less the visual art community? Well, if you're an artist - has the price of your "oil" paints gone up? If you're a gallery owner - has the price of keeping your gallery cool and lighted gone up? Are people still driving long distances to come see your exhibits?

Although some in the art community think and act as if they live in another world - they don't. There is nothing that happens outside your universe that doesn't have an effect on you and your dream world.

I have always thought of the arts as a business or industry, just like any other industry - the Cultural Industry. Although it is a creative industry - we still produce a product or service that we depend on others to consume in order to make a living. Money counts - even to those who seem to live off grants or government assistance to produce. Without money - not much art is produced to feed that industry. And industries are affected by outside circumstances.

I'm not concerned whether the Carolinas are red or blue states. I'm interested in a better environment - weather-wise and of the human condition. I don't want people to view the arts as a distraction.

We have to actively take part in making sure that the worldly circumstances don't get so out of control that the distractions become irrelevant.

On The Cover

This month we have an image of a work by Dan McCaw, which is also the cover image for the catalog for the first Charleston Art Auction LLC., taking place on Oct. 27, 2006, in Charleston, SC, at the Marriott's Renaissance Hotel.

For more info see our cover or visit (

Check With The Tax Man or Woman

Last month I mentioned a way of dealing with making donations of art for charity auctions. I suggested that two artists could swap works of art and then make donations to the art auction and benefit from the full value of the work - as a donation. A reader called to say the IRS would want each of artists who made that swap to claim the value of the artwork as income earned.

It seems that those who create art are always to be held to a disadvantage versus those who buy art. But it's a good thing they still buy.


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Carolina Arts is published monthly by Shoestring Publishing Company, a subsidiary of PSMG, Inc.
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