Don’t Mix Apples and Oranges in Politics

I got a call the other day from a woman in North Carolina who was very upset with my recent comments (Oct. 08) in Carolina Arts on how the arts do better under Democratic leadership compared to Republican leadership.

Her complaint was that she had just spent two days visiting art galleries in North Carolina and had never been so ignored in her life. She couldn’t understand how these galleries could complain about the government and economic conditions when they themselves treated people so badly.

The caller kept going back and forth between these two subjects and even for me – it was hard to get a word in the conversation. Once I found out which commentary she was taking exception to I found my feet.

She explained that although not being a person of means, she has purchased a lot of art in her day, but was just amazed that upon entering these galleries she couldn’t get the time of day – even after explaining that she was new to the area and would like to know something about the artists and the work on display. She also couldn’t see how I could blame the Republicans for any of these galleries’ woes – being an Independent herself, she voted for the person – not the party – wishing there were more choices.

I had a hard time arguing my point on my recent commentary, since she mingled the two subjects together. Every time I pointed out that the Republican leadership has broken our economy, she would point out that the galleries were ruining their own business by treating visitors so bad. I would agree that this is a problem that I have talked about in other commentary and that even our writer from Australia, Judith McGrath, has also brought up this subject – she just kept going back and forth.

One of the reasons I travel under the radar in galleries is to see how people are treated in galleries and I have to say that at times I’m amazed at how much time I can spend in a gallery and not be approached once on whether I had a question or was interested in anything. This is not just a problem in North Carolina – my caller had also been to art communities in South Carolina and gotten the same treatment – as I have. But I’ll also add that in my experience this is the exception – not the norm. I’ve had wonderful experiences in our galleries.

On the other hand, I’ve also been trapped in galleries that made me feel like I was being held captive in a car dealership – where I couldn’t leave until they made a deal that would make me happy. Sometimes too much attention can be just as bad as too little.

On the subject of how the art community fairs under one party or another I would not yield. On the subject of how the average person is treated in art galleries I had to agree there is a problem, but also told my caller to make a complaint. Many times people attending galleries are not the owners of the art galleries. But, my caller was only interested in first impressions and was too busy to change the art world, who in her opinion was just interested in blaming someone else for their problems. She also thanked me for my time and said she would continue to read my paper.

I know what city this caller was talking about – I even know the gallery where she picked up our paper, but this is a general art gallery problem. And, I’ve only heard her side of this complaint. So no use in naming names.

My caller was contacting me to give me another side to consider, which I appreciated. And, I’ve responded about her concerns and complaints. Only problem is – most likely the people who read my commentary are not the ones treating visitors so badly. They are usually people who are working in a gallery because it’s just a job or an owner of a gallery who is just in business to make money. They don’t care about the art community the way I do, my caller does, and readers of this blog and our paper do. Apparently they don’t care about much – even people who take time to come see the art in their galleries. That’s too bad.

On the subject as to how you should vote in this election, I’ll ask readers the same question Sen. Barack Obama asked a restaurant owner in Ohio who sold him a slice of pie. The owner was a long time Republican. Obama asked him how his business was doing? The owner said terrible – people don’t have money to come in and eat. Sen. Obama said he should give the Democrats a try for once – it can’t hurt and it might get better. Well, he said a lot more than that, but you get the drift of his point.

How has your business been doing?

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