Hugly Mangry Killdren

By Blair Brennan

I’m pleased to have this opportunity to exhibit work with two very talented young artists, Sarah Van Sloten and Andrea Williamson. I’m indebted to my friend Shelley Ouellet, not just for bringing their work to my attention and bringing my drawings to the attention of other TRUCKers, but also for a long, late night conversation that reminded me of the difficulty that young women artists face no matter how talented they are.

It’s not that I’m totally insensitive to this, however, I was pretty much ready to proclaim “mission accomplished” from the deck of the equality-in-the-arts aircraft carrier. Like another middle-aged white man, I was wrong. There are complicated reasons for my negligence but I will share only the most positive of these. Edmonton, my home city, boasts a number of senior women artists and thankfully most have been (or continue to be) involved in studio instruction at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University. 1

TRUCK is keen on mentoring but there seem few specific tips that I can share with these young artists about their wonderfully evolving art practices. All I hope to share (or what I hope this exhibition will do) is further convince Sarah and Andrea of the importance of their art. Any artist with a sustained practice will face periods of self doubt and related inactivity. The painful difficulty of these times is exacerbated because the amount of time that art consumes in our lives is so seemingly disproportionate to the presence of art in the public consciousness. All I can say is: “Fuck the public consciousness!” That so few people care what we do, seems precisely the reason to do what we want.

When the public consciousness turns its fickle eye to visual arts it will invariably consider a microscopic slice of artists. In Mira Schor’s book “Wet” she suggests that recent art school graduates are unrealistically focusing on "the youthful fame and financial success of a handful of exceptionally talented, ambitious and lucky men"2. Schor maintains that to survive in the long run we need to know that there is a "long run"3. Schor is interested in "the ecology of the studio”4, a great phrase she uses to describe the evolution of a consistent methodology that contributes to an ongoing studio practice.
To Schor’s insight I can only add that all art is invocation. This is especially true of drawing because of its immediacy, directness and presence. Drawing is pre-eminent for most artists but rarely or only recently of importance to curators, critics and connoisseurs -- another reason to draw what we want and draw our own conclusions. We need only answer to ourselves when we pick up a pencil, pen or brush and, when we’re not sure why we do it, we must continue with a faith that, eventually, it may be revealed to us. “In the end,” as American artist John Baldessari noted, "it's just you and the art."5

Blair Brennan
October 2010

The short list includes: Catherine Burgess, Isla Burns, Liz Ingram, Darci Mallon, Cherie Moses, Lyndal Osborne 

Mira Schor, Wet, (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 121 

Ibid, 123

Ibid, 123

Irving Sandler, Art of  The Postmodern Era: From The Late 1960s to The early 1990s,  ( Boulder:     Westview Press, 1998), 444