Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Quality Loses Out

Vernacular painter E.M. Lee is taking some time off from display in the Plaza. Lee's works are remarkable renditions of southern country houses pictured with dignity and nostalgia. Florida is more than beaches and imported palm trees. E.M. will be putting down his brushes for awhile and is doing temporary electrical work in Jaxville.
Most tourists coming to see the artists in the Plaza want to get a picture. We ourselves call our works "prints" or "paintings". By" picture" the visitor means that he wants an image of St. George Street, Casa Monica, the City Gate or any number of locations around town. The street artist here that exhibits anything other than these images can expect meager sales. A three million dollar Rothko abstract original would remain leaning against a tree with little notice. A color snapshot of the "Oldest Schoolhouse"(Yeah, Right !) framed and mounted will always find a buyer. Works such as E.M. Lee's are a "niche market" yet they are some of the finest works in the area. Ernest takes almost three months for each painting which is one of the reasons he has declined to be one of the new "Highwaymen" because his art is not formulaic ,though his work has a recognizable theme throughout.
Ernest has found it necessary to take a temporary outside job in order to buy paints, brushes and canvas. I've heard it said by City Administrators that the "market will weed out" those plaza artists if they start to proliferate in numbers considered too large. True enough, but this certainly is not the gauge of quality. It is more a reflection upon the type of tourists we solicit. Lately it has been NASCAR ,bikers and my God, are the tourist development people actually going after big fat people and kids of both sexes? Ok, that is a snide remark but come down to the Plaza or walk St. George St. These folks are looking for pirate postcards, t shirts and food ,lotsa junk crap.
Some with a discerning eye have started collecting art by E. M. Lee. Not enough though. We want him back.

1 comment:

  1. I really hope he finds time to paint and work. His stuff has a profound softness this current world seems to be missing. Don't put them down, if you do, they are just pictures.