Carolyn Ramo is Right: The Art World Needs to Ditch Its Big-City Snobbery
This blog from September 2018 seems particularly relevant as art seekers head up to the Hudson Valley for events like the inaugural Upstate Art Weekend. Urbanites are fleeing the cities and streaming up the Hudson in search of open spaces and opportunities to experience art. Are we finally ready to ditch the big-city snobbery of the art world?
A few weeks ago Artsy posted a blog titled “The Art World Needs to Ditch Its Big-City Snobbery,” the first in a series of opinion pieces from voices across the art world. Penned by Artadia Executive Director Carolyn Ramo, the essay examines and dissects the work being done outside of the big city heavy-hitters-- and why it’s important that the art world continues to seek out and support artists in the tinier pockets of the country-- and perpetuate that habit into the next decade.
Naturally, #teamcronin was elated when the blog circulated to our inboxes. In effect, it spoke to and encapsulated the mission CronArtUSA has been trying to accomplish from day one: making art accessible. Not only to big city dwellers (some of our nearest and dearest patrons), but also to our community at home, here at the foot of the Catskills in New Paltz, New York.
We adore the Hudson Valley. This goes without saying. That’s why it was difficult to responsibly digest and objectively respond to Ramo’s points, being that we’re small town gallery, featuring the work of one artist. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that we had big city dreams of reaching a global audience; but that’s why we launched www.cronartusa.com. While we’re never quick to negate the importance of the metropolitan areas existing as sort of gigantic art-incubators (particularly considering our close proximity to the biggest of them all, NYC), it’s easy to feel neglected by the art world, especially considering how much we respect and admire the local artists native to the Hudson Valley-- and not just the work of our own Artist Ryan Cronin.
It’s true: his work captures and relays a specific narrative that speaks to shifting social, cultural, and political tides. What Ryan calls “the colorful irreverence” that he captures inside a 4 foot-by-4 foot board never ceases to comfort us: it’s a reminder that we’re not alone during this bizarre time to be an American; that it’s okay to laugh at how bad things can/might/will inevitably get; that through the muck and the mire of the current divisions splitting this country right down the middle, we can turn to the Rust Oleum paint that decorates Cronin’s work and sigh, with a slight laugh: we’re going to be OK.
And that message doesn’t have to find a delivery on the walls of a Brooklyn gallery. Or Chelsea. Or LA or Miami or Seattle.
Not that we’re not open to it: we are. We welcome it. We love spreading the Ryan Cronin message of hope, perception, and country to our metropolitan friends. Some of Ryan's favorite moments over the course of his career have happened in the big cities: his exposure at Art Basel in Miami was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we welcomed it with open arms. But being a more blue-leaning small town surrounded on all sides by a more red-leaning county, we feel that it’s our responsibility to stay put and speak up as the opposing local voice; and that when the folks inhabiting the five boroughs some 70-miles south of us get tired of the noise and light constantly bombarding them, residents of the mighty City of New York, they can come to us: we can offer them sanctuary.
It’s no accident that our gallery looks like the inside of some eclectic art collector’s living room: we invite you to come in and sit on the mid-century furniture and soak it in and talk to us. Not only for the sake of our community-at-large, but for all of the artists who find their home here. For as Ramos demands in her narrative, “We need to ensure that a greater number of talented artists can make a living from their work, and can do it while living outside of America’s art centers.”
We founded the CronArtUSA brand for this exact reason: our mission is to ensure that Cronin, one of so many talented and brilliant artists in the Hudson Valley, can make a living doing what he loves. While his work and his voice and his reach are bigger than the Hudson Valley, Cronin’s home is here, nestled in the warm, welcoming arms of his community. For inside this effervescent and rich geographical square of the country, Cronin has been able to find and develop exactly what Ramos cites as the shared “fundamental definition of success” among artists: “to have the ability to continually create work, make a living off that work, and have that work be part of a larger conversation.”
And today, that’s one of the many reasons we’re thankful to call New Paltz, NY our home. Come visit us sometime. We love having guests.
That’s why we have couches.
@blakepfeil / Operations @ CronArtUSA