By JASON COX
Of the Keizerimes
A Keizer artist is working to take his local vision out into the global art marketplace.
Jonathan Boys, who founded the Emerge Art Show while president of the Keizer Art Association, is partnering with Scion to run the show monthly in Portland. It now has a magazine – Emerging Artists Magazine – to go along with it.
Who is emerging, anyway?
“It’s an artist that … doesn’t have national or world recognition,” Boys said. “You’re looking at an artist charging $15 up to the $4,000 or $5,000 range – and by charging I mean actually selling. People put $5,000 on something and they never sell it.”
The magazine has published two editions thus far and Boys is at work on the third. For sure, most of the work featured in it is a bit more edgy than Salem-Keizer is used to. Then again, that was the point.
Of about the 1.5 million artists Boys classifies under the “emerging” moniker, he said maybe 10 magazines are covering them.
“And the newspapers really don’t cover them,” Boys said. “It (would be) like, ‘Hey, look at these artists who aren’t accepted by the establishment!’ They’re putting their credibility on the line.”
To be sure, Boys experienced frustration trying to get publicity for his Salem shows – he said the daily newspaper barely acknowledged his monthly shows at downtown Salem’s Coffeehouse Cafe. (He said he’d still be running the shows in Salem if the cafe was still open.)
Yet when he took his shows to Portland, it wasn’t like parting the Willamette River. The press didn’t exactly descend upon The Slate Gallery, notepads and Twittering devices in hand.
Then again, that was the point.
“I was approached by a few people who said Portland has one art critic and he only reviews PADA (Portland Art Dealers Association) galleries,” Boys said.
The very act of art criticism unnecessarily narrows the field, Boys believes. That’s why art at Emerge shows are critiqued only by other artists showing their own work.
“Art critics, for the most part, aren’t qualified unless they have a Master’s in fine arts or something,” Boys said. “At the same time that’s almost a disqualification because you’re expected to only look at art that fits into here, and you’re not looking at new artwork. You’re not going to critique something that’s out there.”
The magazine is published by his own company, HKD Press. It stands for “hard knocks degree,” a title he gave himself in jest after watching his sister earn a Ph.D. Two of his brothers are also on the doctoral track.
The native of Cincinnati now says he can’t get away from it. After using it as a title in his Facebook profile, the social network won’t let him change his name.
“I’m down at the University of Oregon on a panel … and I was introduced by the organizer as Jonathan Boys Hook-Dah,” he said with a laugh.
Boys is also dead set on showing artists how to make money from their work. His most succinct advice? Go overseas.
“In China, they’re buying lots of emerging art,” he said. “They’re buying from artists who have been alive and experiencing things … whereas Western art collector see the monetary investment, to put it in their art vault. They’re not buying it to hang on their living room wall.”
Ideally Boys wants to be part of cultivating a new class of art collectors here in the United States. He said the prices set at East Coast auction houses shouldn’t scare off the average person.
“People don’t realize how easy it is to buy art,” Boys said. “Art is a luxury item, but what else in life is? Do you smoke? Do you drink coffee? Do you go to the bar and buy alcohol?”
He also sees buying local art as the ultimate stimulus plan.
“I could go into a big box store and buy a piece of print art for $100 that costs 30 cents in China for some kid to make, or I could spend $100 locally that’s going back into our local economy for artists who are here. That’s where art associations and galleries have dropped the ball.”