What Do I Think About Arts Commons?

I once told Preston Manning that I owed his father, former Premier Manning, who preached the gospel on radio every Sunday in our ‘home’ a debt of gratitude. His government’s mean spirited, penny pinching welfare that I grew up on, made me a lifelong socialist and advocate of guaranteed annual income and education, the silver bullets that solve poverty, crime and health issues in global society.

I still feel rage at the hypocrisy of the self serving conservative Christian misusing the very cool teachings of their gospel for their own selfish  economic agenda. The same fear of ‘others taking what is mine’ justification that they use to embrace nationalism as opposed to globalization.  Buy locally is a conservative agenda, disregarding that their Christ would see that the guy in India needs to feed his family too. Fuck the pakis, fuck the Jews and fuck those faggot cocksuckers too, in the language of my conservative ‘home’, the streets of Calgary.

I accept that these expressions have also been business as usual with the Catholic Church, for centuries, as they plan ahead in terms of centuries. On an individual basis the using of altar boys for the pleasure of the priests has the same lack of empathy as their global policy of using women as breeding stock to make more straight Catholic men.

The current far right in today’s political climate, locally and internationally, claims a lot of allegiance to the Catholic Church. The head of the Alberta conservative party that was parachuted in from the federal party for example.
My former wife, upon graduation from law school in Calgary, promptly divorced her aspiring artist liberal husband, joined the Catholic church, and joined the conservative party of Alberta, in order to have a career.  She was rewarded with a position with Alberta Health fighting the unions, which she knew intimately since her father was a union auto worker/organizer in Windsor Ontario.

I solicited her and everybody I ever knew for my gofundme when I was hospitalized  recently and needed money for a place to live. She donated a niggardly amount, but refused to do it publicly, since caring for me might be suspicious I assume. I suppose I am on some list somewhere.

After the divorce, I eventually got to art school and then further qualifications to educate adults, and got gigs doing that at ACAD and Mount Royal University.  I was hired at ACAD to do professional development for public school art teachers, a 3 day studio gig, where they could study drawing and painting using the basic methods artists have used for 800 years to train each other; observation of the figure using a model and still life composition.
Arts Commons then hired me to further professionally develop the art teachers from the Catholic schools on site at Arts Commons. The model was not allowed as a subject to study, only coursework lending itself to abstraction please and thank you. Conservatives love abstraction, because it is historically spiritual based, I suppose, (Kandinsky and Malevich the white Christian mystics) and it is non-confrontational over their couch.  Also a staff member from arts commons was in the room at all times to monitor, I suppose, the conversation.
This was 20 years ago.

My colleagues at the artist run centres have always programmed at the window spaces of Arts Commons during this 20 years. I have been of 2 minds, supporting the emerging artists and disgust for the venue and its conservative programming and agenda.
Lately the artist run centres have pulled out, and while I don’t know the details, I did get a letter that said:
“Ultimately, our organizations strive to create spaces and opportunities in the arts that work towards more equitable and inclusive futures. At this time, Arts Commons has been unable to support us in these aspirations.”
In other words they got told to follow the Catholic agenda or fuck off.
Apparently Arts Commons hosted some fascist speaker, Canadian Art Magazine posted a link,
concerns about a Jordan Peterson lecture at Arts Commons ,
and arts Commons are taking the usual bully route of saying their free speech is under attack as cover to censure the programming in its windows which doesn’t comply with its Catholic agenda.
I hope this upheaval provides opportunity for new exciting venues for the artists but I am not hopeful for the traditional brick and mortar. There is an old European adage, taught to me by a German dance teacher I once had, “whoever controls the money, controls the art”, meaning that the money controls the message.
For me, personally and professionally, I embrace the internet as a way to circumvent the gatekeepers of the conservative gallery system who aspire to control even my very non confrontational art.
As a white straight male, a new senior, and a former lover of painting flowers, and currently street photo, I see no place for my work in the conversation of inclusion which is the battleground of the artist run centre.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t lend my voice in support, especially in support against fascism.
I invite them to join me on the net and take their work global in some manner that they will create for themselves, and control their own art, and message.

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