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Mission Statement for a Men’s Gallery

The following post is a response to a call for a hypothetical men’s gallery. It stemmed from questions and discussions which spurred from two feminist gallery pieces we wrote on ARC and Women Made. As the discussion spiraled into the circular direction this disucssion often goes in, I created a call for a mission statement for a men’s gallery, one was accepted by Conrad Lawrence, (and I wrote a satirical version previously).

This is by no means the final word in such a complex discussion. It is, however, one artist’s opinion on the subject and a starting point for discussion – a hopefully new, fresh and non-circular discussion. As absurd as the call may seem to some, all specialty galleries have core internal questions and conflict about their existence. This was called for in hopes of looking at the discussion in a new light.

Conrad Lawrence

The Disensegment MAWGs

In the landscape of the art culture, covered with the snow of political correctness, the time has come for the thaw. Time has come for a new gallery to represent the special, unique needs of a currently unrepresented segment of artists, the MAWG (Middle Aged White Guys). If in the fairness of “allness”, everyone should get a voice, a place with focus to a particular voice, so should the MAWG. To that purpose, the purpose of fairness, it is time for a gallery entitled THE DISENSEGMENTED, for the MAWG cannot claim any segment to which to position their needs in the eyes of the public and to focus on the

Conrad Lawrence

inequities of opinion toward us. Every other group has its segment in which to alert and educate the public to the inequities they suffer at the hands of a consumerist culture: women, Latinos (and Latinas), African Americans, etc… The Bulgarians have their own group. Middle Aged Mexicans have their own gallery. Why not us? Why not the MAWG? We need our artistic voice heard and understood and we need a new marketing ploy.

So it is time for THE DISENSEGMENTED, a gallery whose banner slogan would be: “Call us chauvinists if you will, but we just wanna show our art without apologizing cause you think we screwed things up for you.” Of course we have a vision all good galleries do:

To ensure the equal placement of MAWG art in the world without apologies to the fact that there just happens to be a bunch of us. And to continue its non‑segmented tradition of providing exhibition opportunities for professional and emerging artists working in all media based on excellence of artwork, without discrimination toward gender, race, age, class, physical/mental ability, sexual, spiritual or political orientation, though we will only show work created by MAWG.

And we have a mission:

Being a likely profitable (sorry it’s in our nature) and a cooperatively MAWG run, gallery, THE DISENSEGMENTED will support, cultivate and promote the diverse contributions of MAWG in the arts through exhibitions and other programs that serve, educate and enrich the community. We will work to empower MAWG by providing professional and mentoring opportunities in the visual arts. THE DISENSEGMENTED will serve to raise public awareness on various community-based issues by presenting exhibits, workshops, discussion groups and programs by, and for, a purportedly over‑served and underappreciated population.

Walter Frydryck in his studio

Is there a need? Of course. If every one else can have a segment to cop to, why not MAWG. And we’re a bit pissed that everyone seems to blame us for their woes in success in an overly competitive market and is that not the criteria for a segment, to feel pissed and victimized by popular paradigm?

Fletcher Hayes Drawing

I spoke to Walter Fydryck a rather well known MAWG artist in town who invented his own paint that would etch into the clear acrylic he used as a medium. He said he was doing okay at getting into galleries and shows without a voice. It was just lot of work, submitting, going to openings everywhere, meeting everyone he could. So, I asked him to put marketing aside and asked from art/culture standpoint if he felt that MAWGs were represented and properly understood as a sub-culture and did we have a distinct and identifiable voice in our art. He looked at me rather blankly and shrugged. I felt like a flag bearer at the head of a brigade who had charged the field of battle and found myself standing alone, with my flag waving.

He pointed out that everything has changed that there are new students coming out of the School of The Art Institute were different and more homogenized in their diversity and didn’t seem to follow the rules of gender

Fletcher Hayes Drawing

and ethnicity differences. He also noted that there were more women graduates than men and that most of the curators who displayed his art were women. I asked if this was because of his MAWG sensibility of egalite which spoke to women. I got another blank stare and a shrug.

But, Walter, don’t you need to have your voice heard and be validated as a group which is often and erroneously vilified? Don’t you think in a world of true equality, MAWGs should have their own restrictive place and segment where the special MAWG artistic voice could be heard? He said he had to get to the

Hyde Park Art Center. He was networking and community building with them in hope of exhibiting there. He added it was pretty cool place.

That Moment, by Conrad Lawrence

I asked another MAWG, Fletcher Hayes if he felt there was a need for a forum for the MAWG voice. He said, “Let me begin with an apology for the art history textbooks being so heavy on art by men of European descent.” He went on to explain that at the time that those books were printed, the nation’s social awareness had not yet been elevated as a result of general protest movements from the second half of the 20th Century. So, in his words, “Don’t pin that stuff on me, I admire the work of artists from all walks of life. The playing field still needs to be leveled, and you won’t find me grousing about it.” And then I watched as Hayes drew a cartoon in the corner of the check he was writing to a local business. “That’s another check that will never get cashed!” he chuckled.

Thanks, Fletch. Um…wait! Guys! If everyone else can have specialty galleries to make aware the public of the inequities foisted upon them by popular sentiment and paradigm, why can’t we? Guys? Guys?

Well, maybe a segment gallery for the disensegmented MAWG wouldn’t be such a good idea. People would just see us as a bunch of cry babies and that doesn’t fit with the MAWG sensibility.