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[BKARTS] Free Enterprise

     Several years ago I had a most interesting discussion with the husband
of a friend.  As we sat in his dining room, in an incredible home in Shaker
Heights, Ohio, drinking expensive wine, he "enlightened" me as to my place
in society as an artist.
     I won't bore you with how we fundamentally represent to each other the
"wrongs" in society; that he has grown up in a position of utter privilege
and sees my Canadian values as socialist weakness.  I'll leave it at the
fact that he is a corporate banker who prides himself on his imported
wardrobe, while I am an artist and teacher who scours thrift shops for
exciting finds.  Our perspectives are rather different.
     During this discussion, I was told that artists are self-absorbed,
obsessive people who don't contribute anything of real worth to society.
When contributing to the GDP was wielded as the prime example of what is of
value to society, I realised that this schism (or Grand Canyon) was beyond
my bridging in one sitting.
     I could not, however, resist commenting on how he categorised "value".
I pointed out that his home had acquired several new objects since my last
visit.  It seems that as his career and "monetary value" progressed, so did
his acquisition of wealth.  Of course, I said, that new furniture, those
paintings and the sculptures were all created by machines in his
world-centred middle America.  Indignant, he proceeded to list the crafts
people and artist who had created these pieces, some American, many from
developing countries.  They were expensive objects, of course, but he felt
them worth it because they were unique and somehow distinguished him "from
the masses".
      How unfortunate, I pointed out, that these same folk often work for
very little profit, thus not contributing very much to the GDP.  Isn't it
fascinating that while he thumbs his nose at the artist, he hangs their
"product" on his walls (and places it in his book shelves, on his
      Stunned, he poured himself a glass of scotch and left the room.

Stephanie Dean-Moore
Blue Stocking Bookworks

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