It has not been so long we've forgotten the massive government bailouts of Wall Street and associates. The Occupy Wall Street movement and vocal accusations of the 99% are likely to remain relevant for some time, and grow louder as we near the November 2012 elections. Master watercolorist and writer, Tim Stevenson, weighs in on the art front in today's guest column. While his prose may be tongue-in-cheek, his argument is both timely and timeless.
Following the recent notable events in the investment banking sector and your even more notable response, I have decided that it would reticent of me to delay any longer in asking for a federal bailout. I think $3Million would do it, though in the course of negotiations that are sure to follow, I would expect the real figure will be closer to $4.5M. I have noticed that the figure almost always grows significantly when cuts are attempted. Not that I think $4.5M would be excessive, considering how much our money will devalue with all this new debt. So, why don't we start at $4.5M and let the discussion begin there.
The first thing I want to do is make a case for just how indispensable I am for the survival of our way of life.
But before I do, let's bump that request up to $6M. I just got several renewal notices on art-related subscriptions and, glancing at my art supply catalog, I was appalled at the price of a single tube of genuine cerulean blue oil paint (plus shipping, which was almost as much as the paint). I'm beginning to think $6M will be a low estimate, but I'll get by. After all, I'm a master of survival. (We all know that).
Actually, that is my first point - survival of artists is more important than hedge fund managers, mortgage bundlers and practically 100% of the "top" CEO's combined.
I have never bought season tickets to pro-sports arenas for my clients, taken them to expensive restaurants, rented cruise ships for meetings or thrown $50,000 birthday parties for myself. I have in a word, been frugal. Granted, it has been out of necessity, but my point is that I understand the value of money. This is the first key to our survival as a nation.
My ability to survive on the $8-$10M that you will almost certainly be giving me will serve as an inspiration to our fellow citizens and will insure that future generations will benefit form my personal genius. (This is no time for modesty).
The second reason I would cite for insurance of my survival is the value that we place collectively on the past. I am making history and in the process, weaving a part of the web that will be our legacy. We only seem to understand this in retrospect, my point here being that this bailout will help show that we now understand the principle in the present moment. The value of a single Rembrandt painting would finance the municipality of Florence, Alabama, my home town, for up to 10 years. Theoretically, the product of one man's hand is valued at roughly ten times the annual budget for a fair sized city. Why?
Before I answer, I would to like to raise my request to $15M. In writing the last paragraph I realized that I had seriously underestimated my value. Also, I took a break for lunch (which cost less than $5, very frugal) and got to thinking how nice it would be to have a regular table at a nice restaurant or better yet, my own private chef, which would be more befitting of my new favored status with the country's leaders.
As to why a work of art is worth more than, say, municipal budgets, the answer is simple and to the point.
Art has long been considered a fool's errand and is for the most part, being practiced by "rainbow chasers". In one immense and practically unnoticed cultural shift, the rainbow chasers have migrated to the financial sector. In their absence, art will now be peopled by wise and prudent people like myself, who will give to this country the legacy it truly deserves. Just knowing that our government will be there to back us up in hard times, even if it is our own fault, will be the greatest consolation imaginable and will free us to create a more lasting imprint of who we are.
In closing, if my career were to end at this point, the entire country will be in danger of collapsing. I don't mean this to create unnecessary fear and panic. There's enough of that in the daily news.
Our existence as human beings requires more than calculators and spread sheets can provide. I call it the "x" factor. The beauty and mystery of life that art can so readily offer. Without being reminded of our better qualities, we will be doomed to more colossal failures and a sped-up robotic existence, a sort of non-existence.
It is my hope that you will act promptly to put the financing in place and renew the possibility of our continuing collective existence as a nation. Inaction, or even hesitation, promises dire implications.
If you would please, deposit my gift in my offshore account (info enclosed) and I will thank you now for your largesse.
I feel better already.
Watercolor by Tim Stevenson