Myth: Professional/ Amateur

By Rick Rotante

It is impossible to cover this subject in one short article.

What is needed is a discourse on what art is and if those who make art have the necessary training, knowledge and imagination. Art is not a mindless activity for the uninformed. We may never reach a unanimous agreement on this issue but it pleads for an informative and obligatory dialogue moving into the future.

What should be important in determining quality is the principle that there are levels of expertise necessary for creating art that must be considered. Due to the explosion of instant media devices and painting programs, those who want to create or show any work, now have access for the world to see it. This exposure to all levels of art, has a tendency to blend all levels of quality together. The darling painters in the local clubs are entitled to every accolade they get. But their work will pale in comparison with work of a painter of experience, ability and technical facility when equated together. For those who deny this fact, they are deluding themselves. There is this notion that if you paint you deserve to be noticed on a world stage. This is happening in every profession mainly because of the Internet. Unfortunately, we are unwilling to be objective when dealing with Amateurism and Professionalism. In fact, there is a stigma developing about being a professional. True! With political correctness spreading like a plague, there has developed this idea that “everyman” regardless of experience or knowledge or expertise should be considered “worthy” of recognition if they create Art. This is a fallacy and dangerous for every endeavor where one seeks excellence.

A professional is someone whose entire life is taken up with what they do; when they do it every day and produce work worthy of consideration to be called professional by others qualified to judge; peers in their profession. Everyone else is an amateur, dilettante or weekend painter. It can only be seen this way.

Sadly art is one of those vocations where quality is difficult to quantify. Volume alone is not a genuine criteria of quality art. Quality, today, seems to have no yard stick anymore.

Curators, museum operators as well as some gallery owners are thinking only in dollars and spectacle. Not necessarily about quality and professionalism. They are in this only for money, fame and notoriety. They are not accurately competent to judge.

Why do you think a plastic shark in a tank sold for $14 million dollars? We can no longer trust the self-styled experts to make choices any longer. Theirs is a commercial interest in art not the creative one.

So can we determine art made of quality or substance? I am not sure I have an answer since art has become a democratic process. Anyone today, without benefit of training or schooling can call themselves an artist. It’s an important question that begs exploring for quality to survive in the future for all artists.

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