Rob Port, in his “Say Anything” blog post of Feb. 27, headlined, “Minnesota’s taxpayers paid $10,000 for an awful painting depicting the #NoDAPL protests,” misrepresented facts. Before offering assessments about artists or about Minnesota State Arts Board funding, he ought to do his homework.
First, grants are not given in response to a single image, photograph, or painting like Port implied. Minnesota State Arts Board grants are prestigious. The applications involve three things: an artistic resume (summarizing arts education, experience, exhibitions, and awards), a work sample (of several works), and an artist's project proposal. These are reviewed by volunteer panelists. (In fact, Port could volunteer to be on the panel.) The state arts board staff make the panel reviews public, and they have established objective methods of scoring the three components of the application. This is a very competitive process, and artists who are doing top-quality work are the ones who are funded.
Clearly, Port didn’t like the image. This does not mean it is bad art. Art can best be described as an emotional investigation. It is an exploration or an examination of an experience or a moment. When art evokes emotion (which it did for Rob Port), I could call that effective artistic work.
It was incorrect for Port to imply that the Minnesota State Arts Board or the panel support any political messages one way or another. Port might think something is awful, but another individual who is more familiar with art would not. Denomie is in fact an established and respected artist, and many people are interested in his subjects and artistic technique.