Fuck Art, man
by Nic Olson
Sometimes they say that I work in the Arts. Sometimes they call it the industry. I tend to believe I work in the business of happiness; making people happy by selling them Art pressed into wax and Art pressed onto cotton, manufactured by people who are unhappy, someone’s boot pressed in the middle of their back, picking cotton, weaving cotton, sewing cotton, inhaling cotton, shipping cotton. And maybe wax.
Happiness follows the law of conservation of mass. Happiness cannot be created or destroyed. The total mass of the reactants equals the total mass of the products.
Ice to water, water to steam.
Former-happiness to cotton. Cotton to t-shirt. T-shirt to Art. Art to happiness.
Art doesn’t walk around town handing out twenty-dollar bills or cab vouchers or new rental lease agreements. Art doesn’t have its lifeguard safety—it doesn’t save people who are already drowning. Art is like whiskey, it makes you feel warm even though you’re losing your leg to the cold.
Where was Art when your friend was evicted by Regina Housing Authority and slept outside for a month and died in his friend’s kitchen? Had we finally convinced him to draw a picture for the Free Press, would Art have saved him?
Where was Art when your wheelchair-bound friend kept getting his cigarettes stolen by his brother who could have been painting miraculous animal scenes and selling prints but instead stole blind people’s cell phones to sell for crystal meth?
Art was in an office building, denying grants. Art was at a wine-and-cheese opening wearing a well-fitting shirt.
Fuck Art, man. Fuck the fact that this piece of prose is (debatably) a piece of Art.
Rocky sits in the the empty coffee room of a fading drop-in centre drawing portraits of people who may or may not exist, to give away to the first person she knows will praise her for it. Rocky draws because it’s the only thing that can help her cope with the fact that everyone she knows is dying in front of her.
Her aunt from Cote.
Hilliard, found frozen outside.
All in a week. She draws because what the hell else can we do?
That is, unless it’s used for its one and only true purpose, as with Rocky, as the antidote in a place dripping in poison.