A small 'elite among the middle-class'

As Baby Boomers downsize – and a smaller, less-affluent middle-class takes that generation's place – independent art itself is in jeopardy. Free expression is an essential component of a free and democratic society, but free expression is not possible without independent art and culture

In his famous 1939 essay, the world's most acclaimed art critic famously stated that art 'actually belongs' to 'an elite among the ruling class'.[1] He went on to explain that this group had 'abandoned' its role in the 'development' of culture for the 'masses', suggesting that the 'ruling class' should once again take back their art. This happened in the early fifties, as the untold history of modern art reveals.

Regionalists, by contrast, believe that art belongs to everyone; and in this cultural struggle, independent art is the resistance. If the society in which we live is truly democratic, then Regionalists might be regarded as the 'official opposition'. Based on this reasoning, a growing number of individuals are acknowledging the importance of independent culture, and helping us develop a model by which future generations of artists may continue the tradition of an 'art for the people'.

Everyone has a stake in the preservation of a strong and vibrant independent culture, and to this end (we must assume) Canadian Art magazine, in a 2016 article[2], posed the question: 'What should an art movement look like?'

Art movements in the late-modern and postmodern periods might more accurately be described as fashion trends; for in an age of apolitical art, art was not intended to address real world issues or precipitate change. Regional artists however (prior to 1953) regularly made change possible by addressing issues that were in the interests of the people – without, as some have charged, producing 'kitsch'.

Artists have traditionally been catalysts of change, but it has been said many times (by numerous commentators), that the aim of postmodernism, from the beginning, was to convert 'active citizens into passive consumers'. This assessment by Eleanor Heartney in her book, Postmodernism (from the 'Movements In Modern Art' series), is perhaps the most powerful; for if this is true, a movement in art can no longer gather the support required to make a difference in the wider world.

A small 'elite among the middle-class', therefore, has never been more important, if the tradition of independent Regional art is to endure and once again bring about positive change in the world. We hope, therefore, that you will join us in this venture by signing the mailing list request below.

1. Clement Greenberg 'Avant-garde and Kitsch'
2. Canadian Art magazine, August 22, 2016. Mireille Eagan: 'Kym Greeley and the New Newfoundland Painting'