This is a fantastic photo of Pete Seeger singing for Eleanor Roosevelt at a Federal Labor celebration in 1944. An ardent socialist and great songwriter who served in the Army in WWII in the Pacific, I think he's a perfect example of this.
I ain't rich, and I'm an artist. In fact most of the people who show or perform at our gallery are broke...we sort of cater to that element. Check out dosfolkies.com as well for some folk art by the not so rich, many of whom are in the deep south along with locals. Poor people still do art, they just don't show it in judgemental hoity toity galleries that take 50% of your dough, forcing you to raise the prices and hence not make sales.
I see the point and the larger trend about music, but, in my rural, working class upbringing in Illinois there was quite a bit of “working class art”. We had a corn festival every year, with a photography show, huge arts & crafts show, a flea-market type event with all kinds of folk art/crafts. This may seem like a weird thing to say, but I always thought it was pretty neat how passionate the men were about woodcarving, crafts, etc. My uncle (working class, Christianist, from Iowa) makes folk art using driftwood he finds, coal, and copper wire – same thing, I think it’s pretty cool that he has something he loves as an artistic outlet (even if it’s definitely one of those things where we keep his pieces in the closet until they come to visit). Maybe this isn’t exactly what you’re talking about, but, just go to any kind of flea market-type thing and you’ll see plenty of working class artistic expression….
To clarify from #2, Dos Folkies isn't our place....they are friends of ours. We have a little place across the pond called the AFU Gallery in B'town...where broke artists come to show!
It's a valid concern, but it's forty years out of date. Even Seeger and Guthrie to some extent were consciously emulating a style, not coming to it organically, and they were sixty years ago. The music of the working class comes exclusively from other countries, like Brazil, and has for decades now.
Pop music since the rock era has always been the music of the spoiled middle-class art student.
Visual art? Has there EVER been a real working class visual artist? If there has, it's been someone like Norman Rockwell, not something interesting.
get the rednecks to quit driving, turn off their TVs, & stop sucking down meth & corn syrup, and eventually they'll start making music or art again.
Redneck culture is dead, though. All they have is the completely deracinated American Idol version of modern country. Even the rootsy shit is totally fake; you have to go to Ireland or Scotland to hear honest country music now.
But culturally speaking hip West Coast liberals are just as bankrupt musically, at least in terms of the broader culture. America doesn't have a real connection to music anymore, nowhere. I mean, if you like indie rock, there's a ton of it around, and it's all to a reasonably good standard, but it doesn't MEAN anything anymore. America would not be a different place with or without it.
I think I heard about this on the NP & R, but I found the same tale at the NYT obit:
Rauschenberg's thrifty childhood, and his stumbling into a museum while stationed in San Diego with the U.S. Navy. Never thought about art before that day.
@5: depends on if you mean they were born into a working class family, if they worked a job while they were artists, or you consider art-making to be a job until it starts to pay the bills. I thought of a few artists I admire who were from working-class backgrounds:
John Sloan (a few of the other ashcan guys were, too)
Clyfford Still (Spokane, holla!)
Point conceded; there are some. Those are good examples.
Plenty of artists are poor and plenty (but perhaps not enough, I'll concede) poor people make art. The artists you've heard about, the famous ones, are disproportionately wealthy. Probably because trust funders are more likely to have the opportunity to build their careers for five to ten years starting in their early twenties without having to work a day job. They're also marginally more likely to be encouraged to study the more esoteric disciplines like ballet or opera at a young enough age to make a difference.
Poor does not equal working class. Artists choose to be poor, usually. That's the bohemian way. Most of them could leave that world and move back into the middle class if they wanted to.
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