There’s a town an hour south of here that I have a very troubled relationship with. At the moment, I have a doctor I see in that town, but he is the only reason I go there.
I got involved in their art scene for a little while. I did a two-woman show at a local gallery. The gallery was packed and everyone knew each other. One man was absolutely obnoxious over two nude paintings. When I asked the gallery owner what was up, it turned out the man was her friend. She replied, “I’m sorry. He’s always this way. He’s a realtor in town and everyone knows him.” Apparently, that made it okay. I can laugh it off, but my partner in the show had trauma in her past and was visibly shaken. I can’t believe that was allowed to happen.
I also worked for an arts organization that helped the disabled in town. I was horrified when they would pick and choose who was more deserving of their help, even making ignorant comments about certain disabilities.
I thought I was going to write off small towns forever.
I live in Toledo where there are more opportunities for artists. I can leave that town and be just fine. I couldn’t imagine being an artist in that town and those are the people you have to deal with if you want to get involved in the local art scene.
It’s hard to believe people act that way in the art scene. Aren’t artists supposed to be open-minded? Not everyone is your competition and it costs absolutely nothing to be nice.
Dealing with this town’s art scene was disappointing, but it was a learning experience. I am now more selective in what opportunities I take as an artist. It’s important that an opportunity is meaningful and not just something to add to my resume. It’s also important to get out of Ohio.
Thanks for letting me vent. Feel free to share your learning experiences or other small town disappointments.