Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Collectors as Artists, part II

In Austin, they have just nominated folks for something called the Austin Visual Arts Award. So I was looking at the nominees (some of whom will no doubt be familiar to Pan readers). I read down the list of nominees in each category, starting with "Artist of the Year--2D" then "Artist of the Year--3D" to "Artist of the Year--Photography/Printmaking" (kind of arbitrary to distinguish this from 2D artist, don't you think?). Then there was "Artist of the Year--Early Career" and "Artist of the Year--New Media." So far, so good. Then there was this category: "Collectors Circle Award". At first I was thinking, "Oh no--an award for best collector?!" But it turns out that it is an artist award also. Whew! Dodged that bullet!

But wait--at the very bottom is the award for "Art Patron of the Year" which is being awarded (no nomination list for this one) to a collector, Michael Chesser. He is also a big supporter of the Blanton Museum and Arthouse, which is cool and worthy of praise. I'm not condemning the AVAA for giving this award--without "patrons," organizations like the AVAA would not exist. But when you start giving art collectors art awards, you create a weird equivalency between artist and collector. After all, they could have an award for "best art writer" or "most tireless volunteer." But they chose for their one non-artist award to award the "best patron."

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