Art Within Economic Boundaries | Does money matter to artistic energy?

I belong to a local art group that consists of art represented by the five different districts in our county. Artists are invited to participate by featuring their work in gallery shows, submitting to an online user gallery or featuring their work in a newsletter.

When we post a call to art I have noticed that many of the artists that submit are from communities within the county that would be considered middle or lower income while the upper income communities routinely submit almost nothing.  I’ve discussed with this with a few others and we all ask, “Why is that?  Why does there seem to be more artistic energy in struggling communities and less so in areas with little economic struggle?”

Is art more inspired when there is struggle?

Is art more inspired when there is struggle? Is art more inspired when there is less money in schools, neighborhoods, city organizations or churches? What opportunities are different in wealthier regions that seem to suppress artistic creativity? And if artistic creativity is suppressed then what is not suppressed? What replaces artistic expression? What is encouraged?

I have spent time in each type of community. I have seen the décor in the homes of those with less money and those with an abundance of money. The homes with less money seem to express more personal style, a creative reuse of material and an appreciation for things that are gently used. Homes with more money have decorators; style is developed through high end retail sites. I do not see as much personal style in these homes, including the art that hangs on the walls. In fact the homes of those on the lower income scale follow trends less than the high wage earners. For example the Old World Tuscan look that has been over-saturated in our retails shops, architectural styles, fabrics and paint colors is expressed quite often in wealthier communities. Many home developments are designed in Old World Tuscan with the complementing floor tiles, fresco-like textures on walls and ubiquitous vineyard wall décor. I rarely, if ever, see this decorating style in the other communities.

What makes one economic group suppress individual style to follow the crowd while another one with less means is so much more willing to push the envelope?

Have you seen the dearth of galleries in upper middle class suburban towns? Have you seen the number of small galleries in urban communities that dot nearly every block? Do urban communities value self-expression more than the suburbs? What draws people to one or the other?

This is merely an observation that lends itself to so many questions. I think this should be invites a conversation about how to open up artistic expression in all communities so that ideas, energy, creation and talent can be shared.

What does this mean for artists? Have you noticed similar in your community? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.


Copyright 2012 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at
You can buy Jan’s beautiful work here

Recent Posts