Freedom of artistic expression and the opportunity to express individual style are gifts we cherish in America. We see with individual eyes, listen with our own ears, process with our own past and present experiences. It’s evident in the clothes we wear, our hairstyles, how we decorate our homes, our taste in food and drink, as well as the type of music we enjoy, the style of visual art we select, and the choice of performing art we support. How fortunate we are.

There often exists a discrepancy between the value an artist—performer, designer, architect, etc.—and the value a consumer places on art. Creativity isn’t always enjoyed and appreciated by anyone other than the creator. Not considering myself an artist, but rather a consumer, I’ve always wondered how the artist adjusts his ego to total rejection at worst, or lack of understanding at best. I’ve struggled to find words of praise for a piece of art when it was clear the artist was anxious for affirmation. “Tell me about it” doesn’t seem as if I’ve put forth enough effort.

Starving artists’ sales and maintaining two or three part-time jobs to support their dream of “making it big” on screen or stage are familiar stories of artists. Artists must learn early that their freedom of expression is only limitless for their own satisfaction; otherwise, they must take into consideration the tastes of the consumer. Compromising their talent? Hardly. Just a compromise of living. Both can co-exist.

When considering a purchase, the price is whatever the consumer is willing to pay—the value a consumer places on the piece. That applies to brand name clothes as much as to a framed oil painting by an unknown artist. This thought was reinforced again when I took the pearl bracelet I bought in China to a local jeweler for appraisal and repair to the clasp. The response was, “How valuable is it to you?” Hmm. I saw the pearls come out of the oyster, and I have a photo of the Chinese woman stringing each pearl (she spoke little English, but now I believe she was actually an excellent sales woman!). At the time, I believed I was making a good investment in jewelry, but then I had to decide how valuable the memories associated with the purchase were.

As each season or exhibit is planned by arts organizations, committees of artists and consumers make the decision of what not only will enhance the mission of the organization, but entice the consumer to support it.

Arts Alive! applauds artists in all dimensions, recognizing the diverse preferences of our readers, the consumer. Let us know about an artist or artistic expression that hasn’t been highlighted in these pages. Please respond to the questions on the form on the cover of this issue so we may better write about your interests, and in so doing, introduce our readers to other artists. Your thoughts are valuable to us. AA!