Last night was the first of the spring 2012 Insight? Outta Site! lecture series at Zeitgeist, and a pretty sizeable turnout showed up to hear what artist and blogger Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint) had to say. It's a potluck, which is kind of fun — whoever brought the roasted pecans with rosemary was a genius. It was also meant to be interactive, but when organizer Adrienne Outlaw began by saying that she's a firm believer that there are no stupid questions, I was worried. Like everybody, I've been to plenty of talks where I've noticed that people who like to talk over everyone else are often kind of intolerable. But this was a painters' discussion, and it seemed like people where there with real concerns looking for practical advice, not just to hear themselves talk.
Butler is extremely well-spoken, and her skills as a moderator probably helped her guide the conversation towards a direction that kept everyone's attention. It moved from the question of scale (Does size matter?) to the relevance of art galleries in today's market to the importance of blogs and art writing.
The most memorable moment was when someone from the audience asked which quality is more important, motivation or talent. A few ooohs of approval over the question came from various members of the audience, and Butler answered bluntly: "I don't think talent matters." It was a bold statement, and in the context of the discussion it was extremely on-point. She wasn't discouraging artists from creating, but saying that you have to redirect your focus away from how great your stuff is, how people need to pay attention to you, how you're such a big deal. Instead, focus on working really hard. It's refreshing to hear such a grounded perspective at an art talk.
The next lecture is on Friday, April 20, and artist/critic/curator Bill Carroll will be visiting. He's going to be available for studio visits while he's here, so if you're an artist and you want to show off your work, contact Adrienne.