The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch

The Bush Dilemma

By Barry Kostrinsky

The art world has its panties in a bunch. George Bush has entered some hallowed halls through a side door. Powerful teams of married art writers are reviewing his painted portraits of world leaders he met while playing president. Lady Gaga and Jay-Z were allowed in at the top of the art world for a day. Her pop fame and costumes and his good looks, money and past rap edge were enough to get them in. After all, they were already in the music world: that suburb just down the block from the art world. Zimmerman entered the art world through the prison gates, the only painless prison backdoor I can imagine. But George W Bush came in through a White house back door quite unlike the one JFK slipped in and out of during his short-lived tenure.

The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch

President George W Bush at his easel. Notice the empty french easel drawer. In itself it could be a meaningful photograph but it's lack of content makes me wonder about what's in the ex-president's head.

The watchful eye of a critic is hard to come by. Though everyone shares an opinion on your facebook posts few have the clout to make their words count. Artists fight for these flashlights towards hope to shine on them; Even fewer realized all they had to do was become President of the US and then the evil eye would willingly turn their way.

At the crux of the matter is a greater question brewing under the phlem of older critics gaggled bolus. Can art be taught in a few years and can it be taught to anyone? A past Sunday morning show on the boob tube addressed the sister question last week when a segment focused on nature versus nurture in sports and your ability to be like Mikey- Jordan, or Tiger -pre-trimmed Woods or James, not Elmoed but Lebroned. Can athleticism be learned translates to, can aestheticism and artistic ability be learned. In short the answer is no....and yes. Yes it can be learned to an extent. Maybe enough to get you in the 1%; however it can not be learned and practiced to perpel you to the 1% of the 1%, to greatness, for all the bad press the numbers have gotten recently.

So George became a painter. By some critics standards he became a very good one very quickly with formal elements that tie him to Alex Katz and other notables stylistically. The content seems vacuous but that could be a whole page essay in the art world- to his favor! The work seems non-professional, but that could be the artist expressing his inner animal- raw Bush, sort of primitive Bush, a fauvy Bush that doesn't mesh with mauve: The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch

Alex Katz's Kate 1994. Katz's simple and direct style leaves me wondering if this work should be hung in a museum worthy of a Van Rijn boy.

When an example pops up that doesnot sit right in mathematics we look to throw out the rules that make it acceptable. George Bush could signal a paradigm shift in the art world if he is just this red herring example. The thinking goes like this: Bush can't be a great painter- nor a very good one. The art world likes elements of his work. To reconcile, dislike the elements of the work that you like and all those that have that side to their work. Katz's come down from Museums, Rembrandt's legacy is not shaken, not so bad for starters. Okay, more than a Katz or two will have to come down, be unhung, or dismissed: Twombley's scratch marks gotta go, Stills style is lame and Caro's sculpture is a pile of mess!

The Bush Dilemma Has The Art World's Panties in a Bunch

About Author

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Barry Kostrinsky Barry Kostrinsky is the founder of Haven Arts Gallery a large gallery and performance space that reinvigorated the South Bronx arts scene from 2004-2009. The Municipal Arts Society (MAS) awarded haven Arts a certificate of merit in 2006.

Barry has contributed to a variety of panels including a NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Percent for art program, and a Bronx Museum symposium for the Artist in the Artists in Marketplace (AIM) program. Barry formed and moderated a talk for the Artists Talk on Art(ATOA) Series at The School of Visual arts (SVA) that discussed the history of contemporary arts in the Bronx.

Currently Barry serves as a member of the Arts in Public Places (AIPP) committee for Rockland County.

His past experiences managing a family run manufacturing company in the South Bronx for 20+ years gives him a uniquely balanced view of the art world.

He worked in finance and banking from 2010-2013 for a small independent company and then for Bank of America. As a result he sees the art world from both the aesthetic side and the financial market it is.

As an artist Barry has exhibited in group shows in NYC. He works in a variety of medium including oil paints, acrylics, watercolor,photography and mixed medium. Where as the oil paintings are mostly plein-air works not unlike the impressionists and post-impressionist, his acrylic work is quite contemporary and often on found objects including car parts, light bulbs, beds and more. His photographic work ranges from serene nature shots, to street detritus and include playing with simple I-Phone applications to manipulate photos taken with his phone. He shoots with old fashioned polaroids and enjoys the restrictions compelled by the lack of choices with the toy like cameras.

Barry special ability is to be able to see others artists work from the eyes of an artist and to dialogue with artists in a meaningful way about their art and where they are going.

As a youth Barry was a math major at Vassar College and graduated in 1982. His High School days at New Rochelle High enabled him to develop his artists talents, Mr. Blackburn was an inspiring teacher. He spent the summer before senior year at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and had a firm footing in the arts before college. By chance Vassar had one of the best art history departments in the US and he studied with Linda Nochlin, Susan Kuretsky and in is rookie year, Ken Silver.

He is a proud father of three grown kids ages 25,25 (twins is the way to start) and 20.

Like so many of us he is recently divorced.

Barry has a strong passion for all things arts related and his love for cooking and eating run a close second.

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by Barry Kostrinsky