Subsidizing the Artist


Yes, I am audacious enough to think someone will share space with me – a couple of rooms in a house, a converted garage, a granny flat. For one thing, they’ve done it before. I think someone will let me live somewhere either free or below “market value,” or in return for some kind of help, or take their payment in paintings, or have the book dedicated to them.

Yes, I have the nerve to think someone will help subsidize my life on a direct, one-to-one basis. I’m fine with that, because it will be voluntary. Besides, my karma as both a host and a guest is pretty clean.

A lot of times, other artists give me advice, and don’t want to know about the reservations I have, some combination of political and religious scruple. Like “apply for a grant.” Where does grant money come from?* Well, some of it is extracted from the people via taxation. I’m not in favor of that. Some of it comes from corporations, so most of it is dirty in one way or another.

But even leaving that aside, here is a simple question that has never been answered to my satisfaction: If the company is making so much that they can give away money, why don’t they just lower the price of their product or service, and let their own customers get the benefit? Or hey – how about giving the workers a raise?

People unwillingly and unknowingly support far-off projects because either the government or a corporation decides a particular enterprise ought to be funded.

I’m all for people supporting the arts voluntarily. Preferably, by sharing their extra living space with me so I can get this book written.

*Questions like this inspired the zine Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics, of which 25 issues were published over ten years.


Moving — Yuck


Relocation is such a drag, and this will probably turn into a whole series of pisses and moans about what a stone bummer it is. When moving is in the cards, the first thing I think about is how to reduce the bulk.

In between times, I think about how things could be sorted out, to achieve a drastic reduction of cubic footage. A kind of mental triage process is always going on, calculating what to get rid of next, with the rough outline of a plan ready to spring into action when a move is announced. What if, at the next place, there is only half as much space?

Here’s an example of the dilemma. Say I have three large beautiful pieces of cloth, with different qualities – one is very lightweight, another is dark and thick enough to block out light, and the third has a waterproof side. On principle, I don’t mind getting rid of two, and just keeping one – but which? In the next place I live, there’s a very good chance that a big swath of fabric will be needed for something. And it will probably be one of the pieces I got rid of. Sigh.

A person might say, “So if you want to reduce the amount of stuff, let all three of them go. You can always find another piece of cloth.” But no. For the car-free person, that’s a major expedition, half a day, at least, spent biking or busing to somewhere and back. It’s a big expenditure of time. And just after a move, there isn’t usually a lot of discretionary cash lying around. Balancing all the factors, maybe it is worthwhile to keep three pieces of cloth, just in case, even if it does add to the amount of stuff that will need to be moved.

One thing I’ve become resigned to, in moving, as in everything else: it’s really hard for a lot of people to relate to a car-free person. They just don’t get it.