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In which we talk about ways to find out about contemporary art and announce The Art Assignment Book Club.

We'll start with Dave Hickey's Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy: http://bit.ly/1mgCkUs.

And here's my list of online art resources: http://bit.ly/1q1RErq

If you don't want to buy Air Guitar or borrow it from your library, you can find a link to the titular essay here:
http://dcrit.sva.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Air-Guitar.pdf
and and another essay, "Romancing the Looky-Loos," here: http://aftertheartapocalypse.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/lookyloos1.pdf.
You can also read an interview with Hickey in The Believer: http://www.believermag.com/issues/200711/?read=interview_hickey

Try to read it by August 1, and we'll start the discussion in a video shortly after.
Hi everybody!
You may know this but I live in Indianapolis, Indiana which is not exactly the white hot center of the contemporary art world. So how do I stay up to date with what's going on in the wider world of art, and why is it even worth bothering? Let's discuss.

First, let's answer the question, "What is contemporary art?"
It's art being made now and in the recent past. Period. It doesn't matter what style it is or what it's made of. People do have different understandings of what 'recent past' means, however, and museums sometimes include anything made after modernism or after, say, World War II in their contemporary art collections. But for our purposes, it's art being made now.

There are physical centers for art being made now - Berlin and Beijing and New York and Los Angeles - but many artists do not live in those centers and many art lovers don't either. Fortunately there's a miraculous series of tubes called the internet that allows us to remain connected and engaged to our interests and their communities, whether it's Orange Is The Black or One Direction or Kara Walker, you'll find a link to the suggested resources in the video info below.

But it's also worth cluing into your IRL art community, whatever its size. Check out what museums, art centers, art fares, commercial art galleries or auction houses are in your vicinity and go visit them, or at least look at their websites.

More and more cities and towns are doing First Fridays or Second Saturdays or Third Thursdays and what have you as a way of showing you what new art is around. Also, many of these places have thimble sized glasses of free wine. Terrible wine, but free. Only drink these if you are of age of course. Please don't break the law.

And then there are art schools or art programs within the universities closest to you. They're always putting on shows and it could be a fun and un-stuffy way to see some fresh new artwork. Those schools also bring in artists, curators and art historians in to speak, and they're almost always desperate to have warm bodies in the audience. It can be intimidating to go to real-life galleries and talks and etc. where you don't know anyone but everyone will be very happy to see you! It's soul-crushing to invite someone from across the world to speak to your community and only have a handful of people show up.

Also, definitely don't hesitate to go into commercial art galleries or auction houses, even if there's no way you're ever going to buy anything. The majority of people who go in don't buy anything and the majority of people who work there can't afford to buy anything they're selling. Most of the people who work in those places do so because they love art and they're usually more than happy to talk to you about it, and if they're not nice to you eff 'em.

The next way is to clue into art communities that are not near you. It's important to remember there is not just one art world. There are many art worlds and yours is just as legitimate as the ones people talk about all the time, that is almost exclusively composed of one percenters who rattle their jewels at the premier art fairs and biennials around the globe. Those can be really fun too by the way, as long as you keep your sense of humor and get out before you become one of them!

If you're lucky enough to be able to travel, go to the museums or galleries wherever you're traveling, and if you can't travel, just go back to the first step and research a place online. Look up contemporary art galleries in Mumbai and see what artists they're showing and what their most recent shows have been. You can also sign up for email updates from art galleries and cities all over the world just by sending them an email and asking.

And last but not least, books. Browsing through the art section in your library, or better yet your museum's library, can be extremely rewarding and you might stumble upon things you never knew you were interested in, because the Dewey Decimal system is funny! There's also the periodicals section where you can spend an entire afternoon flipping through the latest issues of all the best art magazines. Even the ads in them are worth looking at and give you ideas for avenues of research.

But back to books. It's best to remember that art books are not always written with an eye of what people actually want to read. There are a ton of books about art and art theory that are mind-numbingly boring. There are amazing ideas hidden within these books and I encourage you to read them, regardless. But just remember that you're smart and it's okay to read just little bits at a time and even to give up. I give up on art books all the time.

But some books about art are actually fun to read and this video is my very long winded way of announcing the Art Assignment Book Club! For our first book, we're going to be reading Dave Hickey's Air Guitar, Essays on Art and Democracy. I've chosen it because I haven't read it in a long time and in college when I was first studying art, it was what I would read to remind me that art doesn't have to be intimidating and that there are many ways to write about it. You'll find links to get the book in the video info below, and to convince you to buy it, I've also linked to some Hickey essays and articles available for free online.

Before I leave you, I want to say one things to those of you who don't stay in London or New York and also to those of you who do. There's a certain blindness that comes with living at the center of anything. It can be overwhelming to have so many offerings to choose from and once you live in a place for a while it can be really easy to go to work or school and just come home and just do the bare minimum to keep yourself out of trouble.

When I visit New York now, I see much more in three days than I did in a month when I actually lived there because I make a point of maximizing my time. So if you've got it, take advantage of it. And if you don't live in a big city with great art, there can be a real advantage to being able to zoom out and learn about it with a perspective that comes from distance.

Art communities can get very scene-y and get distract you from why you got interested in art in the first place. I got interested in contemporary art because it's a remarkable avenue into the way other people live, and think and process life on Earth today. It's something that can be invigorating from a physical and experiential perspective and also bring up new ideas and questions you may have never considered.

How do you learn about art? Let's talk about it in the comments and let's also read Dave Hickey's Air Guitar together and see if it holds up!