An article lamenting the art scene in Toronto…
I think New York sucks people and energy out of many cities in its vicinity, not just Toronto — certainly the entire “suburban” area surrounding it (New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, Long Island), as well as cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore… speaking about the culture as a whole, not just the art world. Being from Los Angeles, originally, which is a kind of Borgesian infinite expanse of points which contain all other points, a city with no center, a city in which things fold in on themselves at increasing distances, it feels disorienting to be in a place where there’s such a clear center which radiates itself outward and where everyone attempts to find the last place, closest to the center, where they can afford to live. Occasionally I drive to Jersey (yes, I have a car, an Angeleno transplant who cannot fully admit to being in a place where owning a car is an absurdity) and encounter a world both familiar and strange — there are the same sort of malls and suburban life, out there, that exist in my hometown metropolis, but strangely evacuated of what one takes for granted in California, the sense that nestled in between the gleaming, sprawling malls and big box stores may be, and are, treasures you have yet to discover. You can feel it, everywhere there, but it’s been vacuumed out of all but the most proximate edges of the suburban landscape around New York… and it must be because it all heads towards the center, towards New York, eventually.
Los Angeles breeds its own kind of one-way rivalry — no one ever says bad things about San Francisco or Northern California there, but Northern Californians (people from the SF Bay Area like to call themselves “Northern Californians” perhaps to establish themselves in a much larger geographical context) love to hate Los Angeles, seemingly unaware the rivalry is entirely one-sided. Angelenos have no idea that San Francisco hates them. Even with the rise of the tech industry and the international significance that has placed in that region of the world, the one-way rivalry lives on, for reasons I’m not sure anyone fully understands.
I’ve often remarked upon the culture among the artists of my father’s generation — the abstract painters and other artists working then — how generous they are with each other. How unconcerned with commercial success, notoriety, fame. They sit together, my father (who is completely unknown and has never even attempted to have a commercial career), and his friends, some of whom sell their works for tens of thousands of dollars a piece, some of whom don’t even make work anymore, and they all talk completely as peers, swap work and stories, because they have a kind of existential appreciation for each other as people, and have never been competitive with each other. Today’s art world, not only in Toronto but it seems throughout the world, does seem remarkably less cooperative in many ways, though that same character exists in New York, as well, but perhaps because it is New York, that doesn’t stop art from happening here. I’m not sure how long this will last, however… art now is the harbinger of rapid gentrification and sky high rents, a trend that cannot continue forever, but one which has already priced most people out of most of Manhattan and much of nearby Brooklyn. The future will not be like the past.permalink |