Monday June 14, 2010 | The Bechtler Museum

June 10, 2010 at 10:34 am | Posted in Coming Up | 15 Comments

Join us in celebration of Charlotte’s newest, and perhaps most important, museum. The Bechtler museum houses some of art collector Andreas Bechtler’s finest pieces and experts say it’s on par with some of the most famous collections of art around the world. President of the museum, John Boyer, sits down with Mike to talk about the museum, its art and about art collection.
John Boyer
– President and CEO, Bechtler Museum

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  1. A grounding concept: What makes any artwork, especially modern and contemporary artwork exceptional or significant or “Great” except that it has been in the ownership of someone very wealthy and/or powerful?
    And when it passes into custody of a museum or some other trust or collection does not that fetishized cache’ or ambiance travel with it?

    I hold a degree in media analysis and have spent decades reading, studying, interviewing artists and custodians of artwork. I have come to the conclusion that high dollar fine art is the best and purest example of the purposeful colonization of the collective mind of our intelligencia.
    Observe for instance how often the artist is deceased without access to the fruits of the esteemed works. Observe how high fine art lacks community interpretation as in popular culture, as with theatrical film. This is not to say that all our media are not distorted by the gravity of our perversely magnified vulgar material obsessions, but the putative oligarchy is illuminated from the shadow in the reflective glow of modern and contemporary fine art.

    So many have proven this with the marketing of a blob of animal feces or some nondescript found object that I can forego the accounting. (I still adamantly disagree with the repressive ignorance of critics like the late Sen. Jesse Helms, that old grandstander!) And isn’t it a wonder of our mental flexibility that we see meaningful personal insights contained in the impulsive investments of the rich, the same way we see Jesus flying among cottony clouds. And this is not to say there are not skilled and inventive artists out there competing for attention and commissions. I guess I only lack faith that only those with money and power are qualified to choose the worthy ones. The insular class is often so out of touch with the mundane struggle that the best works are victims of class prejudice, elite discrimination and pretentious expectations.

    This is the question of the hour: Why is there a Bechtler in Charlotte where generalized art appreciation is discouraged. And this is the question of the minute: What is lying around Charlotte neglected that should already be displayed in the Bechtler Collection? Most current recognized custodians and critics are not prepared or qualified to address such issues.

    • Excellent comment Grady.

      Regarding the supposed ‘art’ contained in the Bechtler, nearly all of it is degenerate trash, nothing more than ugly garbage that is not beautiful, or transcendental, or uplifting, or even remotely artful, but rather just inane scribblings which reveal the ever-compounding neuroses, ennui, pessimism, and nihilism which is unfortunately so prevalent in our post-postmodern West.

      There was more talent contained in the fingernail of a masterful Greek sculptor or in the eyelash of a noted Renaissance painter than in all of the combined pathetic scribblings of these ‘modern (con)artists.’

      Instead of wasting money to see the non-art freak show at the Bechtler, if you care about real art and the future of Western art donate that money to a more worthy cause like

      Similar to how Nietzsche once wrote that “God is dead,” some now say that “art is dead” – I wouldn’t go that far, but rather I’d say that ‘modern art’ is just not alive – at all. It is sterile, catatonic, stagnant, pitiful, depressing, ridiculous, and worst of all UGLY.

      “experts say it’s on par with some of the most famous collections of art around the world.”

      Experts say…experts say…experts say – when you read that phrase, especially in regards to modern art, just turn around and just run away.

      • Realist: Now, as an “expert”, how many barrels per hour are leaking out the Bechtler every hour? Why hasn’t Mayor Foxx deployed the booms? Pneumafil has come up with a new fix: a giant vacuum cleaner will be lowered to vacuum up as much of the admission money and the Charlotte city subsidy as possible.

        Just curious Realist: Have you visited that art colony “Little Italy” on Mountain Island Lake, the 300 acre peninsula jutting into our water supply, just down the shoreline from Duke Energy’s two coal-fired toxic waste impoundments? When that booger lets go it will be Charlotte’s art happening of the Millenium. Luckily, Andreaus will be present to document it. Then he can sell the footage to Spirit Square. What a coup! What a debacle!

      • P.S. Realist: I am disappointed with your Jesse Helms approach to art criticism. Modern and contemporary art are real categories elicited by actual societal needs.(the ennui and nihlism you mention, plus anomie and alienation, identity consternation) If you are curious why GOOGLE Manifesta, a European attempt to comprehend how present day human creativity has been co-opted by wealth and power at a time when it is most needed. Art as politics, in the Weimar era when DaDa yet lived, or in the counter-Globalism demonstrations in Seattle and around the globe, may be the only visible surviving strand of the avant-garde spirit. Anti-intellectualism and corporate control are a natural pairing, so be careful where you step. (Although the CussToadIans of corporate pseudo-intellectualism are dominating the discussion… Notice how the forces of Real Estate are turning the upstart NoDa into a row of trendy beer joints.) If you could return to the classic traditions of ancient Rome and Athens you’d find your objective pieces handcrafted by lifelong chattel slaves. remember, Charlotte is the home of the one track mind. try ordering off the menu and you’ll find out, young Realist. Charlotte is a modern Athens.)

  2. Your turn Peggy, or maybe Gregg, or one of those curator wannabes I call the CussToadIans.

    • Okay, I’ll bite. Art is defined by the observer not the artist. If it moves people for whatever reason then it has value. How much value? My horse lovin’ sweetie said it best when I asked her what a horse was worth. Her answer: whatever you can get. When we get into taxpayer money paying for crucifixes in tanks of urine then I’m with you.

      • So if you can sell Piss Christ for $150,000; more power to you then? Not by a long shot?
        My critique concerns the fact that some “observers” possess, a perhaps less discerning, but more powerful ability to define. Since the 60s the Greeks and other Balkan Europeans have termed this ability to observe with great power and influence “the gaze.” Women can describe the power of a lecherous or voyeuristic gaze and this power-observation of artworks is akin to those unwelcome gazes. As the woman is objectified by the sexual exploiter, the art is materialified (debased into second currency status) by the gaze of the elite strategic collector. Such persons pre-empt potential plebian judgment and appreciation by using their status and influence to accelerate the acceptance and acclaim of what they buy. Andreaus Bechtler has claimed that he and his relatives received much of their plenty million dollar collections as gifts from grateful artists, but doesn’t such a technicality prove the rule. Asymmetry in wealth and power always distorts peer relationships. I would actually prefer that the wealthy and well-placed not look at worthy art but leave it to the masses. There was a man named Bogg drew twenty dollar bills that were so exemplary he used them to pay his bills and even received change. He proved the debasement of artworks converted to second currency. Of course the IRS shut him down. To the contrary for the Bechtler class: They get tax breaks and government subsidies: matching funds. The will of the parasite is celebrated while the source of the artworks (talented artists) are used and flushed like Charmin.

      • There are two issues Mr. Howard. Art is one thing, subsidizing it with taxpayer money is another. Artist are supposed to starve for their art, I certainly did. I never asked for government assistance when I was stuck in Nashville and the club’s check was no good. I was reduced to pilfering from gardens and staying in a motel so nasty that there were dead bloated cats floating in the mungy swimming pool. We still rocked the place and got the girls. An artist pursues their craft because they must. It’s who they are. It does make them suckers and easy prey for unscrupulous victimizers, I get that. Been there, done that. Got the Tee-shirt. I blame myself, no one else. Live and learn.
        So, if you take the taxpayer funding out of the equation then I do say “more power to you” if you can sell “Piss Christ” for $150,000 to some idiot. I wonder how the “artwork” is smelling now.
        I don’t agree with your premise that the rich have the final say on peer pressure although it’s a good point. That happens but there are no black helicopters circling. One does not need wealth to influence the masses. Beauty, emotion, captivation, rhythm, color and imagination can trump all the wealth in the universe. Don’t you ever get that fuzzy feeling?

  3. I used not to be able to watch my acting. Now I look fondly upon my guest shots on Leave It To Beaver and Barnaby Jones. In the middle are some horror movies and teen beach flicks I’d just as soon would be lost. With maturity I understand that I was doing phenomenal work in European small budget movies, and when I sat behind Senator Specter with the research and notes from constituents. I learned along with my directors. What I can say is that the producers and the insurance hacks and the investors always had some outcome in mind that was not art. You could feel it when they turned away for unrelated phone calls, and in observing some deplorably unimaginative lifestyles. At the bottom I sold worthless high premium life insurance to seniors who didn’t understand the product any more than I did. I paid fines and served probation even though I was never the brains behind the scam.

    And that’s what I mean to say: “Find and punish the brains and hard hearts behind the scams.” Sometimes corporate law’s main purpose is to protect the perpetrators. Those who accept government funds in order that their personal tastes (bad as they may be and as outmoded as they may become) live on beyond their deaths are also culpable perpetrators. Many accessories are ignorant, such as public officials caught up in the hobnobbing. They are accountable too in my book. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is a recent example not living up to its hype. (I predicted that!) It’s sad when a charming enterprise like the Barnes Collection (inspirational and instructional and modest, arranged in a former private home) is at first embezzled and then pirated. Just the opposite is the flashy Bechtler that will be a millstone around Charlotte taxpayer’s necks for generations, and their offspring not even welcome or acknowledged. Charlotte is hoggishly ignorant in its elite and will always bite the biggest nastiest cookie like chum for sharks.

    I like Andreaus Bechtler as a man. He tries to be an artist and a friend to artists like his parents before. But there is ignorance among the oligarchy. Their very lifestyle and education make them incapable of consistent good citizenship. They are socialized with money myopia and will stomp the ass of anyone undermining their wealth and wealth uptake. That is why Congress and the state legislature and county commissioners and councilpersons are all bought by definition whether they like it or know it, or not.

    Mike Collins taunts complainers to run for office, but I think he knows the real estate speculator candidates and the developer candidates and the Duke Energy stooges are going to be elected because that’s how the parties and media work. Harvey Milk would be good news in Charlotte just because he’d be something different who might not go along. It is may job, my mission in life, not to surrender the general interest quietly. No one loves art more than I, but I hate having my tastes dictated by the Big Man. All of us somewhere inside have a yearning for creative self expression. That need should be expressed as a right, just like free speech or freedom of movement. Corporate art and state art are both dangerous: There are mysteries and obscure powers. (No helicopters needed!)

    • P.S. Gregg: When I hit the jackpot working for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley I bought no planes or fine homes. I sought out promising filmmakers and other artists for commissions. I hope that you do not think starving a prerequisite to talent. Most artists are compulsive and will sing or draw in a prison cell, but that is not where art belongs; maybe it is needed there; but it deserves a better place. After you finish your power plant and feed your steeds I hope you will teach and fund training and opportunities for others. They will provide the highest and best memorial. Choosing the best worthy ones personally is the ideal method, pure and self-perfecting. I’m not talking about millions, just hundreds, strategically placed.

      • I get where you’re coming from. I really do and I don’t disagree. No, I don’t consider starving a prerequisite. Creature comforts are just not as important to the artist as the art. When governments get involved everything gets mucked up. That’s when taste is dictated by the man. “Corporate Art” is not the same. The artist is still free, you’re excellent points notwithstanding. I know we disagree on that. My question to you is, what kind of career would you have had without the benefit of the corporate oligarchy? You were a child actor, a politician (of sorts), studied in Europe and hit the “jackpot” at Goldman Sachs. Not bad for a “freakish dwarf” (your words, I don’t find you freaky at all). Why the bitterness? If an artist, on merits, can move the private sector to finance the craft then that’s a beautiful thing as far as I’m concerned. Would Tchaikovsky been able to reach his potential without the patronage of business woman Nadezhda von Meck?

      • As to your PS, thanks for the encouragement, My band once did a concert at a charter school in Gastonia. We coordinated with the director of the school choir and they learned songs in class. We rehearsed after school with them once a week for a month. The concert was a huge success. Having a choir for “Pips” on “Midnight Train To Georgia” elicits fond memories. We featured a few kids on some songs. The school was mainly minorities and less privileged, I think it was a special opportunity for many of them and I hope it lit some fires in some souls. I hope to do that again with a horn section as well. I even thought it would be fun to have some of the non musical students help unload the truck and set up equipment. They could learn about equalization, balance, staging, lighting and much more. Beyond that some could manage the show: “Five minutes to curtain!” I even thought about getting Percy involved.
        Most schools have auditoriums. The participants have parents and peers to fill them. Admission could be very cheap. If a video was made a lot would buy the DVD. There are schools everywhere and would not compete with each other no matter how close together. While one concert was being delivered another could be in the making. See where I’m going? There’s money to be made…big time. Is that wrong?

  4. It depends upon what is done with the proceeds, but, always understand that a cultural and social accounting exists independently of money. We fail to properly award volunteerism and sweat equity, or to measure nurturing outcomes.

    Maybe my perspective originates in my RKO contract with the ever crazier Howard Hughes. If I were a genetic dwarf I could accept that as my unconditional identity. I was small but normal until age 8 when “the Aviator” insisted I have a tonscilectomy at HHMI. An accident or an experiment occurred on a sedated child.Even with HGH injections at 17 and up I never grew taller again. It prolonged my child acting obligation with RKO. People with money can get away with ANYTHING in this society. The outcome is that I go through life wondering “what if” I were a person of normal staturre without these debilitating chronic complications. I can’t change that fact but I can campaign for transparency and justice for others.

  5. A comment to add to Mike’s question about the art being different than what many people are accustomed to seeing….I have found that for both myself and my children viewing art from a broad spectrum has been highly valuable for us all. Sometimes you go to see what you know you will love, but it is just as valuable to see art that is new to you and likely will take you out of your comfort zone. It gives one the opportunity to find new joy in art. If one does not like what one sees it helps us define even more what we do like about the art that gives us joy. Either instance is a wonderful experience.

    • Kitty: Your attitude suggests you approach art like any other commodity provided to consumers like yourself by the existing hierarchical infrastructure. You owe it to your children to question the definition and origin of products called art, and to examine your personal creative urges and tastes. A little birdie told me there may be some “sofa-sized oils” in the Bechtler Collection. “Some are of Kitties,” she chirps.

      Mike’s comment is not realistic for people who seek out museums in their travels and daily rounds. I would expect that anyone who has been to the two Mints, and a gallery or three would not be startled by the typical mundane fare at the Bechtler.(Many pieces would qualify as antiques were they furniture and knick-knacks, assuming they are not.) I recall a physician’s daughter who stretched impressionistic nudes in a storefront window in bombed out downtown Gastonia. It caused more titters than outrage. The primary complaint was that the technique was poor, and this from bail bondsmen and homeless. I believe it an affectation of the commercial bourgeois that they pretend to have art knowledge while assuming the working class and underclass do not. It is a mistake of the upper consumer class to assume that interests and capacities are bestowed in a bundle according to family income.

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