The Artist Apparent Complex

SONY DSCLiving in Minneapolis is great.  From time to time you run into some of your favorite, and least favorite, artists.  I have run into some of my favorite, those who are genuinely humble, friendly, and successful; the likes of P.O.S., Brother Ali, Dead Prez, Kal Penn, St. Paul Slim, Prof., Ant, and others, just to name a few.

 

On the other hand, I have run into some of my least favorite artists, these “artists”, I won’t mention by name (they don’t deserve the recognition), have substantially less success and value than the aforementioned artists; however, they are inherently expectant of fanning and adulation, surprisingly, and speak of their past successes (if they have any) as if they are gifts from God to the general public.  This seems like a mental problem, a complex.  This seems like some sort of delusion.

 

This mentality of expectant presumption and a need for sycophantic acceptance, which I will call Artist Apparent Complex, is out of control and completely ridiculous in the Minneapolis area.

 

Be aware and understand art is a very broad term, if not the most subjective term in existence in our culture.  In America, in 2013, art is real.  Art means everything, yet I find it hard to believe art means false advertisement and lies; however, it does.  Even if the artist is a shame and what they do is just an act for capitalistic purposes, it is still considered art.  Recognize.

 

Art is everything and nothing.

 

I am an artist.

 

Here are a few examples of performance art I did this morning:  I opened a door.  I breathed some air into my lungs.   I took a shit.  I had a boner.  I put on a shirt.  I looked in the mirror.  I changed that shirt.  I took a shower.  I made a shitty joke that my girlfriend laughed at because she is nice.  I looked at my phone.  And I wrote sentences in no particular order.

 

All of these things are art.

You see art is everything.

 

To put it blatantly, everyone in Minneapolis is an artist, and some (a medium sized portion) of these artists, especially the bad artists, expect incredible recognition and celebrity. Moreover, everyone you have ever met, ever seen, and ever will meet is an artist.  I find this fact funny and amusing; however I also find it sad, but more so hilarious.  I find this funny because for those with Artist Apparent Complex there are an equal number of counterparts who fall in line and give them the attention they need.  These people have “met” the “artist”.  They are now special, so it works out for both parties, as delusional as it seems.  If it works its gotta be right, as a math teacher I had  in high school always suggested.

 

This phenomenon is kind of a ridiculous vicious cycle, but it’s easy to find and watch, and understand why it proliferates in such a society (especially in the Twin Cities).

 

I fucking know everyone, I know every artist, and I am better than you, and they are my friends, and that sucks for you.  The culture in Minneapolis is so nice and so accepting.  Just take it in, because what you are witnessing is true performance art.

 

Recently, I have been associating more and more with artists and writers, and it is disheartening to see what the Artist Apparent Complex does to an individual with some talent and a lot of talk.  I have found it in my heart to counter this with a solution.

 

This is my solution:

 

From now on I am going to introduce myself by shaking a stranger’s hand and exclaiming, Hello, I am an artist!  This should work out to my advantage, and kill any preconceived notion that I was not an artist at all.  I am not sure how it won’t.  Everyone is an artist.  (And then I realize, it would almost seem more artistic to tell everyone I meet that I am not an artist though…)  Look around; I see black skinny jeans, backpacks, Ray Ban shades, button ups, cool haircuts, and a lot of people talking about their shit like its gold.  I know this handshake will one up them, for sure.  I win.

 

The Artist Apparent Complex continues, and my new acquaintance is esteemed to have met a real live artist.  Everyone leaves happy.

 

Everyone I know is an artist, everyone I meet on a daily basis speaks of being an artist.  I hardly talk of art, I think the stuff I do is mostly words and some shit ideas put together.  It seldom works.  I am unknown and you know of me.

 

Uptown is great, 10 million artists live in Uptown.  The MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art) has a billion artists going to school there, living off of their parent’s cash, no doubt, but also living off of their artwork.  Eating well.  Eating out constantly, throwing amazing parties where the best of the best are having the best time ever, and laughing, and talking, and laughing more about talking and laughing.  Stuff like that, you know, but they are artists, and they are doing art stuff.  So it’s cool.

 

I introduced myself to 3 of my coworkers like this and they started laughing, why the funnies, why are you joking around they asked.  I am not joking around.  Right after that I asked them if they wanted my autograph.  “E” looked at me and asked if I was serious.  I was.  Pen in hand.  I don’t have a fancy MIA piece of paper with my name on it, but goddamn, I am an artist!  Loudly.

 

I figure I might as well get a head start; I don’t want to hurt my hand later in life.  You know, with all the autograph signing and shit.

 

Artists always come into my place of work and get free food, ass-kissing, and heady introductions.  My manager, when she sees an “artist”, is like, this person did this:  They are amazing!  Amazing artist in the restaurant!  Look at how amazing they are!  Give them whatever they want, whenever!  Make it now!  Do this, do that, give them drink and food! They will speak and give great lectures on their amazingly incredible creations and tell others at our art event each month!  Oh my god!

 

I want the same.  I work hard, write a lot, and don’t speak much of it.  I watch from the back as they eat the art I made.  I had not seen any of their creations; I have heard much talk, but nothing of real art.  My art was in front of them, in their face, in their mouths, inside of their bodies. I am inside of famous “artists” I think.

 

***

I thought to myself, notes to remember bulging in my pants, these guys are all talk, I am all write.

 

This lady, she is an artist, treat her well my boss would say.  This guy, pronounce his name correctly, get him his NA beer, you should know, he doesn’t drink alcohol, he is an artist treat him right.  Free stuff for him, good service; treat him well.  Show him the ropes of fine dining.  Don’t expect a tip.  Your tip is being near this artist.  I gave him the wrong beer, he’s like, what the fuck you should know me.  I am so-and-so.  Are you new?  I didn’t know.  I did this one thing like ten years ago that was pretty okay-all right art.  You know, wise up, son.  What the fuck!?  Are you stupid?  He is stupid, okay.  Everyone laughs at stupid me.  Okay, sorry, next time Buddy, I say.  End scene, this act was and always is shit.

 

This lecture again.

 

My old manager would be like:  do you know who this is?  I would say, no, not really.  Who is it?  This is so-and-so’s DJ, they are famous, you should know! Oh, really?  Cool…  Give them free stuff.  Make whatever they want.
***

 

We have an artist exhibit each month where I work.  You want to see some fun and interesting people?  Show up to these events.  Some great speakers, some not so great speakers, they make you wonder what art is.  They make you ask yourself real questions like, is my art real and do I believe in my art.

 

The one thing I know now is that if I don’t believe in my art I shouldn’t do it.  I have seen people who don’t believe in their art.  I have seen people who just do it because well…  Its expected, its trendy, its cool.  I know a million writers and artists.  I have no idea, but they try.   I have seen non-believers.  It’s hard to watch.

 

You have these fakes and phonies toting this idea that success is wrapped in money, applause, and great adulation.  Success is not that.  No one cares in an age when gratification is immediate, immediately something is better.  Their friends told them their work was good 20 years ago and they “went crazy” and this is the result.  Poof!  Amazing art, look at it, don’t touch, tell your friends, and fuck off.  Okay, GO!  Spread the word.

 

You got people walking around looking at you, looking down at you actually, as if you aren’t shit and they are God, thinking they are true artists.  They are the truth.  Know this as fact.  Never forget this moment.  And they put out some piece of material that “everyone” loves, at some point, one time, and they think they got this under control.  People should pat their back for all eternity, get the limousine, get the pen for the autographs, get the champagne and the flutes for a toast.

 

Have a fucking cigar.

 

These are true artists.  These people are where you want to be.  Walk in, free food, free drink.  Handshake.  Applause.  Management knows them, they know people, people know them, you know them, and so on.

 

This is an act.  These people are only artists in the sense that they have to look the part not to get found out.  These fakes.  These actors.  A few pieces of abstract art, some “genius” ideas, and they are at the top.  Throwing fuck words around like baseballs.

 

Fuck me, please.

 

They are there because they know people.  They know everyone, everyone knows them; people even know the falsities, the untruths, that have been so graciously misspoken, truly accidental, truly genuine (wink, nod), purely articulated for a purpose.

Disingenuous pricks, you know.

Stories these “artists” fabricate at the bar to patrons who are drunk and could care less. These patrons may go out and say, hey, I met so-and-so last night, it was interesting, what work did they do again?  Pause, I forget.  I have no idea.  Come to think of it, they are artists because they said they were.  Everyone mentioned this small detail, and boom(!) they are the next great Surrealist, the next Dali , a genius prodigy child sent from the heavens.  I forgot what they did though…

 

Which brings me back.  I have learned from the best.  I am not an artist, so to speak, I am a typist, I plug keys with ideas, I write, I want you to read.  I shake these “artist’s” hands and let them know because first impressions are important.  I tell them I am an artist, and they ask for what.  I tell them.  This handshake, this is my performance piece.  We are both a piece of art, which is more than that “artist”, apparent, can say at the bar.  These are true artists, with true stories.  This proves their artistry.  Crafty motherfuckers.  Wannabe industry fucks.

 

(An Aside:  I know someone who killed somebody.  I drank out of their slushy to see what it felt like.  I didn’t feel any different.  I didn’t feel anything.  I left their house and biked home in the dark thinking.  I just couldn’t imagine how it felt.  What other people felt like.  I never wanted to touch another artist, person, or slushy ever again.)

 

Maybe true artists are living in a shithole apartment, eating the worst food and contemplating suicide.  Maybe they aren’t parading around like Paul McCartney rocking a boner and some thick black framed in-shades asking for praise.  Maybe I am wrong though…

 

The best artists I have ever met hardly acknowledge that they are artists.  The best work I have seen has been by anonymous.  Shake someone’s hand; that is true art.  Know someone.  My favorite artist is someone you don’t even know and will never hear of.  Their work is beyond you and your small opinion.

 

The real complex is called Megalomania, actually.

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About Terry Scott Niebeling

Hello, My name is Terry Scott, a human being with flaws. twitter: @sirterryscott Buy my ebooks: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/191-4788099-1818040?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=terry+scott+niebeling
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