art criticism

Cultural Relativism and the Destruction of Society

I believe the lack of aesthetic standards in the arts is the cultural equivalent to moral relativism. Certainly, I am not painting every artist with this allegation of self-debasement, nor every gallery for perpetuating said atrocities. Unfortunately, however, it continues to be my experience that there’s a lot of bad art in galleries, and sadly, just as much junk that doesn’t even qualify as art taking up space and demeaning the value of good work. Consequently, I believe the general decline of society is at least partially linked to this cultural decline. The reason being that the deterioration of artistic beauty, in my mind, leads to a general loss of respect for the world in general.

Of course, I have no training in psychology, so you can take this article with a grain of salt and I wont be offended. In fact, I prefer you to do a little leg work and form your own educated opinion on the matter. I’m not here to convince you that you shouldn’t pay a thousand dollars for a framed scribble on notebook paper, but I would advise you against it. I would argue that you’d be wasting your presumably hard-earned money and perpetuating a culture of meaningless and talentless ‘art’ by doing so. I would also ask you to learn more about the Dadaist movement in the arts to better understand where I am coming from. When I have educated myself sufficiently on the subject, I will return to write in more detail.

For now, lets return to the original premise: I believe there is a direct correlation between the philosophies (or lack thereof) of Dadaism and moral relativism with the deterioration of our societal structure. I also believe it is not at all by accident. If it were a question of cultural laziness and lack of talent, that would be disturbing, but also reparable. However, I am certain there is also a measure of malicious intent driving this cultural and societal decline. It is my opinion that there is a general movement to destroy the concepts of value and individual merit in both, for the purpose of creating a new standardized concept of these ideals.

Compare, for instance, these two examples of public art:

Chicago underpass, Fairey mural

Shephard Fairey Mural, Chicago

Stack of Ladders, Unknown artist, Atlanta

If you prefer something a little more traditional, here are two paintings:

Oil on Canvas, by Ashley Norfleet
Jackson Pollock ‘painting’
I am here to argue that not everything created under the pretense of being art or the contrivance of being shocking is actually art. There are many who disagree with me on this point. Many believe that the artist’s intent counts as much as the final result of their efforts. I consider this point of view to be either a crutch for lack of talent or for lack of self esteem on the part of the artist. While I believe very strongly that there is and should be meaning behind a piece of art, I also believe that there must be talent for it to be good. There must be some exchange of value between the work and the viewer in order to convey that meaning.
Some say it’s all art – some good, some bad. While that does indicate an understanding of value, it does not address the issue of the effect that bad art has on the value of good art or the quality of our culture as a whole. I am particularly offended by bad art when considered in conjunction with the selfish mantra of many artists I know:
“Artists are contributing an invaluable service to society through their work and should be compensated for this contribution.” Fine, but only in relation to society’s perceived value of the work, to be determined in a free and open market. If the work is appealing to society, good or bad, the artist should have no trouble selling it. Of course there are other factors, such as marketing and exposure to be considered, but it falls on the responsibility of the artist to treat their work as a business endeavor rather than an excuse for a handout.
The point of all of my rambling is this: I wouldn’t buy a car that doesn’t run or a house that is falling down, so why should I be expected to buy paint splatters or a stack of ladders if I don’t find them appealing?

Frances Byrd is the National Director of She is also a conservative political artist and blogger. Her art can be viewed at

FineArtViews Interview: James Panero — Art Critic and Managing Editor for The New Criterion

Below is an excerpt from an article sent to me recently via a Facebook friend concerned with the state of art, and more importantly, equal representation of ideas within the art community. Mr. Sherwin writes regularly on the subjects of liberal bias in the arts and the outright exclusion of conservative ideas. Over the course of our correspondence, we have found that we share many of the same views based on separate and often difficult personal experiences.

Mr. Sherwin works diligently to expose the unfairness of the liberal dominated art community and its impact on the culture of America. He is not afraid to ask pointed questions in regard to why it is acceptable for the art community and media to shun conservative ideas or mock them outright. It is a struggle I share and I hope you will take some time to read his article and pass it on.

More importantly, Mr. Sherwin and Mr. Panero, the subject of this interview, point out the necessity for conservative patronage in the arts. This is something with which I struggle as an artist and would-be writer. After having spoken to countless people at rallies and town hall meetings, then attempting to promote conservative art at CPAC, I have come away just short of enraged at times. In short I have concluded that conservatives have no one to blame but themselves for the state of our culture. Until we become active as artists and patrons in this country, there is no hope for a change in the quality or the meaning behind the art representing the American ideal.

From the article:

Sherwin: The issue of liberal bias within the mainstream contemporary art world has been a hot topic as of late. Some art critics, such as Ken Johnson, acknowledge that liberal bias exists. In fact, Johnson recently described the art world as a “liberal circus” — and implied that social/political viewpoints expressed in art that go against the grain of social/political liberalism stand little chance of being exhibited or written about. What are your thoughts on this? Is the mainstream art world controlled by a ‘liberal circus’? If so, how did this happen in your opinion?

Panero: Since there is little state patronage of culture in the US, the market determines the art. So if the art world is a “liberal circus,” it’s because liberals are the ones buying art. The question of bias therefore must be addressed by the consumers rather the producers of art. If people want to see more art that resonates with them, they need to find and patronize those artists who speak to them. They need to get involved with their local cultural institutions and advocate for the art they like.

The rise of alternative media means that everyone has the power to discover art of every stripe. My own Gallery Chronicle comes out ten times a year and is available for free online .There are great original works of art for sale for less than $1,000 and sometimes for as little as $100 in New York’s outer borough galleries. The same is true in artistic communities across the country. Simply put, if you want to change art, you need to buy art, and support the apparatus (the non-profit arts spaces, cultural blogs, and journals like The New Criterion) that work to expose serious art to a wider audience.

Read the full article here.

This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. Disclaimer: This author’s views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Northeast Georgia Arts Tour 2011

On Saturday, I will be participating in the following event in Helen, Georgia.

Northeast Georgia 2011 Arts Tour

Friday, June 10, 2011 – 1:00pm – Sunday, June 12, 2011 – 5:00pm

Please join us for our annual Summer Open House Weekend Meet over 100 local artists–painters, potters, jewelry makers, fiber, glass, metal artists and more; demonstrating art in the making.
miles of handmade gifts and that ever so special one-of-a-kind item for everyone on your list.
Register to Win
great prizes–such as theater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, and an original oil painting at all tour stops.

Hours: Friday, 1PM – 5PM; Saturday 10AM – 5PM; Sunday 1PM – 5PM

For more information visit

TOUR EVENT: June 10th at 6:30pm join the Helen Arts & Heritage Center, located at 25 Chattahoochee St., Helen, GA, for our “Spring Gala” with local wine,food,art & music. $20 entry fee includes souvenir glass. Call 706-878-3933 Thurs-Mon 12-4pm to reserve your glass. June 10-13th Demonstrators—In the Clay Studio Fri. 10th Hilton Hill,Fri, Sat & Sunday potters will be hand building whimsical pots , face mugs or textured platters. Friday in the Gallery Terri Ficula & Helen Greear will be weaving pine needle baskets and Val Davidson will be making Jewelry. Sat. June 11th Frances Byrd will be painting from 12-2, Midgie Humphreys will be painting 1-5. Sid Snow, wood turner, will be on the porch all Sat & Sun with a mini lath turning bowls , vases or ornaments. Come see what he can do with a stick of wood. Other artists will be showing their colors on Sunday. Please come watch!

TOUR EVENT: The GHAA Arts & Fine Crafts located at 8016 S. Main St. in Helen, GA, will have a “Crunchy, munchy, artsy Cookie Contest” Two ways to enter and three prizes to be given in these categories: Most luscious cookie, Most beautiful cookie, and Best tasting non gluten cookie. 1. bring your favorite cookie Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the Gallery. If possible email us your name and the name of your cookie so we can make up a flier. 2. Stop in any day and be a judge and vote on your favorite cookie. Come enjoy the crunchy-munchies and visit with our demonstrating artists.

More information on the Tour.

Frances Byrd is the National Director of, a conservative political artist and blogger. Her art can be viewed at Frances will be representing Liberatchik at a booth at the Freedom Jamboree in Kansas City September 28 – October 2, 2011.

The Rise of Politically Conservative Art– Just Under the Surface

by Brian Sherwin on 4/9/2011 9:47:52 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

It is often suggested that artwork exploring politically conservative themes– specifically of the Republican variety– does not exist in mass– or that artists who explore politically/socially conservative themes directly are merely ‘bad‘ or ‘untalented‘ artists that do more harm than good when representing said themes visually. Mention the need to examine conservative themed art during most online debates about art and you will experience this negativity first hand. I don’t exactly blame people for going on the offensive whenever someone mentions conservatism and art. After all, a clear political bias has dominated within the mainstream art world since at least the 1950s. That said, I do think that it is time for the influence of conservatism to be considered directly by exhibit curators, art critics, and other art professionals who work within the mainstream art world.

Read the entire article here.


By Sonja Harris

The Liberals have in some part convinced Americans that there is no right or wrong by blurring the lines. No longer are we allowed to decide by common reason that which is good or evil because of ‘political correctness’. Art has emerged as the playground for promoting Liberal propaganda. The Merriam Dictionary defines diversity as a ‘variety’. So it would seem that the Art world would then support and exhibit different ideologies. But in the real Art world of today, diversity is practically non existent even though that is what Liberals tout. Tolerance is also another word used in the Liberal world but there is no tolerance toward the conservative artist. Somehow the Liberals have turned the meaning of words to their favor.

You can follow Sonja’s writing on her blog, Conservatives in Action.


You may be wondering why I am taking the time to write this article. Knowing that there are so many critical issues in our world today, I thought it would be a good time to reintroduce you to the Art process. You might ask why I would do this at this time. Obama wants to be reelected in 2012 and he will use every method to accomplish his goal. During his presidential campaign to win the WH he used his Logo, created by a graphic artist, which was extremely popular and unlike the other campaign logos and signs, his had meaning. In his logo, the O represents Obama and the white space represents the sun, the sunrise. The blue O and the red stripes represent our flag. Many times Art does have a meaning such as a historical significance, environmental or in this case political propaganda. Obama’s forever famous ‘HOPE’ portrait by Shepard Fairey was used all during his campaign and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery on Inauguration Day in 2009. People lined the halls to view it and photograph it. Obama’s face was everywhere. This portrait played a central role in his winning the presidency. Art promoted Obama. Don’t think for a moment it won’t happen again. Please take time to listen to Wendy Reaves as she explains the Obama portrait. She gushes over Fairey’s image of Obama. The artist deliberately selected colors, size and words on the portrait to draw attention to the ‘greatness’ of Obama. Words used on the image are: beautiful, fresh vision, no mess, stay up, purity, best, player, and a few negative words. Reaves confirms how young people “bought into this image.” How long did she spend on describing or swooning over GW Bush’s portrait and artist?

Read More…

Sonja Harris is a Liberatchik participating artist and blogger.


This three part account concerning Art is way over due, and seeing the apparent deterioration of our family values, I felt that it was time I had my say about the Art that is created today. You have just viewed some of the work that passes as ‘Art’ and is exhibited for all to see. Because I have been involved in the arts for over 25 years, I can tell you that the Liberals control the art field, and it is the work of the Liberals that will be selected and exhibited. I have travelled to different parts of the US and Mexico (when it was safe) to attend art exhibits of all kinds. Among my favorite places to go are the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans. And of course my favorite medium is photography. The last photography exhibit I attended was at the MoMA in New York City which included numerous sexual images; making the show most disappointing and not at all memorable.

Sonja Harris is a Liberatchik contributing artist and blogger.

Flag Installation, Conservative Art, and the 4th

This photo is from a show I attended recently. Because I have been busy working on the Patriot Pony Project, it got shuffled to the back of my list. I thought, however, that it might have been fitting to post it in honor of the Fourth of July.

My friend Alvaro, pictured here talking to his son, is a very patriotic artist. He has several series of American flags modeled after the work of Jasper Johns. The ones in this photo are a collection of 32 that hang as an installation. It is quite impressive to see, least of all for the impact it has on the Liberal patrons of the gallery. It’s a shame Alvaro doesn’t get more exposure, but that is a consequence of wearing one’s Conservatism openly in the Liberal art community of Atlanta.

I am proud to say I own two flags from a different series, titled “Hope” and “Honor”. They hag below the flag my husband received at his father’s Marine Corps funeral. This Fourth of July, think about the freedoms we still have and thank the people who make it possible. Continue to be active in your pursuit of Liberty, and consider becoming an active member in the Conservative art movement we are building.

This article was written for

Why Artists Should be Conservative

I read this blog post back in June when it was already a couple years old. I left a comment anyway because I was so happy to see someone else writing about the significance of art’s impact on the rest of culture. There were some good comments and it made me realize that there are people out there who get it. I left a couple links to MachinePolitick and Liberatchik hoping to hear back from the author. This week, a musician contacted me because of my comments and is now considering joining Liberatchik. Here is the full article. I hope you will go to the page and look at some more writing to get a little perspective on what it means to be Conservative outside the US.

From the blog: Oz Conservative

Why artists should be conservative

Since the end of WWII artists have been overwhelmingly liberal modernists. Where has this got them?

They have become irrelevant. As a reward for their role in transgressing the traditional order, artists have been given a few state grants and then ignored.

A liberal modernist society doesn’t need artists. It’s run by a managerial class on a technocratic basis. There simply isn’t an important social function in such a system for art.

Serious artists, therefore, have been shunted out of the public square. How many people today know or care about an important contemporary poet or painter or playwright or composer?

It wasn’t always so. Traditional societies ultimately found a basis for order on the transcendent (on the recognition of a “good” existing beyond our own immediate individual preferences or desires). It wasn’t functionaries who were best able to express and communicate the transcendent to the public. This was a role for high art, a role which gave artists an important place within society and culture.

Consider the case of poetry. Wordsworth had a tremendous influence in the early 1800s. If you read his most famous poems, they express the transcendent in Wordsworth’s response to nature. By the 1920s and 30s, you get poets like E.E. Cummings, who is a modernist in some regards, but who still expresses the transcendent in his love poetry.

And today? In Australia the only really well-known poet (known to the general public) is Les Murray, and it’s probably no coincidence that he is unusually anti-modernist in his world view.

People once cared about art because they cared about the “transcendent moment” that artists might communicate in their work. They also cared about art because art had a role in sustaining a civilisation: in giving finer expression to what was both good and necessary to the existence of a people and culture.

Artists might, for instance, represent to the public a higher ideal of fatherhood, or of national feeling, or of the masculine virtues, or of romantic love.

What is there for artists to do in alliance with liberal modernism? For a while, they could assist modernists in trashing the remnants of a traditional culture. There was a moment, too, when they tried to align art with the goals of technocratic efficiency (think of the principle of the architect Le Corbusier that a house is a “machine for living in”).

But none of this has a future. Eventually there is no more tradition to set yourself against, and there is no reason for an art based on efficient, abstract function to resonate with the public (most people do their best to ignore it).

It’s difficult to see how the situation for artists can improve; the further we descend into liberal modernism the more irrelevant that artists become to the processes of society.

So let me repeat: it makes sense for artists to decouple themselves from the forces of liberal modernism, as it is through these very forces that they are being relegated to insignificance. The hope for artists is that liberal modernity will falter and that this will allow a reassertion of the traditional within Western culture.

Please check out the comments as well. Some of them are as insightful as the article. I am also cross posting the article at Liberatchik.

Leaving the Conservative Closet

The following is an article by a new member of Liberatchik. His name is Robert Jones, and he is a spectacular photographer. His writing is great as well, and not only because he likes my work. Check it out, and leave a comment. I’m already looking forward to the next article.

Leaving the Conservative Closet

I hate political art. Political art is not for me. I am uncomfortable with it mainly because its foremost practitioners’ politics are way stronger than their art – and their politics suck.

Yet, if you are like I, you know viscerally what it feels like to be a conservative artist, especially if you’re one who takes his art seriously.  It feels lonely as hell.

Especially if you won’t sell out.  It has not been news that the art world is peopled with flaneurs, shockers, and other assorted pretentious dilettantes who pose at being outcasts.  But, you know who the real outcast is: It’s you.

It’s not just that you don’t fit in – you even feel as though you’d have been exiled from the Island of Misfit Toys.  It’s not that you are lacking in a certain social DNA – it’s that you’re completely bereft of it. Kind of like that scene in Taxi Driver when Robert DeNiro, woefully inept at dating prowess, takes an uptight Cybill Shepherd to a porno theater on a first date.

By day, you’re just some guy or girl with a workaday job.  You save up enough loose change and singles to finance what your family regards as your “eccentric hobby.”   The earmarks of your passion are the oil paint you can’t fully scrape out from under your fingernails or the smell of photo fixer you can’t get out of your skin and clothes no matter how often you wash them.

You hide your political beliefs.  You know you’re not a liberal, a progressive, one of those mindless lemmings who’ve “gone green.”  But, you’re struggling in your art career, and your position in the gallery scene is too precarious to let people know the “real you.”

So, you adopt a bifurcated self, hoping to avoid a confrontation with the movers and shakers, those oh-so insouciant curators in black turtlenecks, whose opinions you secretly despise whilst simultaneously craving their imprimatur.

You swell with a strange kind of “half” pride when you finally see your work hanging in one of those trendy galleries.  You’re “half” elated when a collector buys one of your pieces.  You convince yourself that you’ve kept your art “pure,” because you’ve kept politics out of your art – while hiding your personal political beliefs from the majority who automatically assume that because you’re an artist that you’re also a leftist.

You make yourself believe that you’ve kept yourself “above it all” by not stooping to the same level as the rest of the art community. Yet, deep down, you also know the very minute your secret political self is unmasked, that you will be blackballed, that so-called “friends” will drop you like a hot potato, and that in the art world you’ll be persona non grata.

You’ve censored who you are in order to stay safe, fit in, and pass by unnoticed.  But your real self looks upon your artist self with nothing but scorn and shame, because deep down, you fear that you have sold out in some more insidious way than by prostituting your art.

You tell yourself it’s not your fault, because you know that the selfsame “tolerant” lefties have stacked the deck against Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians.  They get away with it because of Political Correctness, you tell yourself.

But then, from out of the past comes the stinging rebuke that maybe they are not the only ones culpable for this bad scene.  The admonition that, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” echoing in your mind comes not from Edmund Burke, but your own conscience.

Yes, when the intolerant left finds out about your clandestine conservatism, of course your art career will be ruined:  You have already abdicated the sanctity of your conscience by prostrating yourself before people who hate what you stand for.  Why should they suddenly respect you when they already know you’re lacking in spine and stomach?

Or, you can take some schooling from Don Vito Corleone: “You can act like a man! What’s the matter with you?”  I have never had the problems so many conservative artists have with liberals because I have never played this self-defeating charade of hiding my political beliefs.  I don’t bash people over the head with them, but at gallery openings and such I don’t let an insult go by without at least offering an “I disagree with that.”  If you are forthright about who you fully and truly are from the start, then you set the terms by which others deal with you, not they.

Do you see the Tea Party movements the past year, filled with people who found the courage to stand up and defend their cherished beliefs and the Constitution of the United States of America?  These are regular guys and gals who finally realized that being consoled by their membership in the “silent majority” was a fool’s bargain – their liberal opposition was only too happy to oblige their silence.

What am I asking of my fellow artists?  To join Liberatchik?  Sure, but Liberatchik is merely a symptom of the problem, not the solution.  True solutions to the ills that plague society seldom rest in collective action.

The solution rests in being true to yourself, and standing up for your beliefs as an artist, as a citizen, as an individual.  What is needed, now more than ever, are individuals whose purpose in life is to fully engage in the pursuit of their happiness, not in wanting to be liked by everybody.

Take a look at Frances Byrd’s example.  This Jeanne d’Arc of the conservative art movement is out there, standing on her own two feet, facing the fire, but succeeding.  She’s succeeding because she’s true to her art, true to herself, and her soul is not for sale.

(And, if I may add, she has raised the editorial cartoon to the level of high art — here is some political art I actually admire).

Take an assessment of your own life as an artist, your own soul.  You will be welcome by us at Liberatchik, should you so wish, not because you’re “one of us,” but because you’re true to yourself.

Then, half the battle will be won already.

This article will be cross posted at Conservative Punk.

Good Art that Conveys Mood

In this article, I am going to be speaking entirely about the merits of the art. Unlike most of my work, there will be no political agenda. I don’t know the painter in question or his politics, but the work is an example of what could be coming out of the art community rather than what is widely accepted as ‘art’.

The artist I am highlighting today is James McLaughlin Way, who is a phenomenal painter living here in Atlanta. I stumbled across his work on Sunday at the Mason Murer Gallery where I was dropping off a piece for the Art Papers Auction this weekend. Here is the story.

Upon entering the gallery, I was immediately impressed by the sheer size of the building. Most galleries in Atlanta are seedy little back alley joints, or cramped spaces in high-end art districts where everything is about status and nothing is about the art. I didn’t get that impression at Mason Murer, which is in a huge converted warehouse. The only things they have added to the interior are a reception desk and display walls. It is a vast and awe inspiring space. All of this from walking in the door on a Sunday afternoon, when most of the lights were off.

The experience with my work will be part of a future article after the auction this weekend. All of this is lead-in however, to impress on you the magnificence of the painting in question. Upon leaving, my friend Alvaro said to me “Let’s go over so you can see my friend James’ work”. Upon stepping around the reception area, I was struck nearly numb by this painting, which loomed over me like a monumental placard of personal anguish and strife. Before you take this as criticism, please bear me out. It is meant to be a compliment.

The Bow by James McLaughlin Way
The Bow by James McLaughlin Way

The first thing out of my mouth was “Why don’t I know who this guy is?” Which was answered by “You know why. It’s realism.” My opinion on that will have to wait for another article as well, but I assure you it is one of my greatest criticisms of the art community. I spent the next several minutes examining the work; getting up close to enjoy the detail and richness of the painting; stepping back to admire the composition and mood. I was continually surprised by details I had previously missed, as if the glazing of the oils were a soupy fog that was twisting and turning about the piece to reveal or obscure the intricacies within.

This painting is of a monumental horse, called The Bow. For you to fully understand the imposing nature of the piece, you must know that it is 11 feet tall and 16 feet wide, hanging up on a wall as if some giant was running the gallery. The base of the painting is about a foot off the ground, so no matter where you stand, this larger-than-life horse is towering over you in his misery. Perhaps the dim lighting in the gallery played a role in the mood, because on going to the web page, I noticed it was very white. Regardless, pictures never do art justice and this is my take on the piece. The great horse is standing in this thick fog, with head bowed and a white cloth draped across his back. He looks beaten down by the world in which he lives, exhausted and stopping to catch his breath. Maybe I’m projecting here, but it is a very moody piece.

I was shocked when I tore myself away from the details long enough to step back. (You see, as a painter, I have this habit of getting right up on a piece to examine the brushstrokes and glazing. I learn something from every painting I look at.) In the depths of that vast and heavy fog is a city that begs the question of where the horse has come from. What is going on back there and how does it relate to the horse, or me, the viewer. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to look over Mr. Way’s work because this is what artists need to be doing with their talents. Art for the sake of shocking people is absurd, but art for the sake of beauty speaks to people. It tells a story and conveys an emotion or personal connection. It moves people.

This article will be cross posted at Liberatchik