Art + Pandemic = Profit

written by : Maurice Cardinal

Wait. What?

Some artists and fine art institutions are doing what …during the pandemic?


International Artist Day is celebrated on October 25th each year as an homage to Pablo Picasso on his birthday – a radical thinker who dramatically changed how people considered modern art in the early part of the 20th century.

Picasso, after the liberation of France in 1944, an event similarly as traumatic as our pandemic, said, “I didn’t paint the war, but there’s no doubt the war was in my pictures.”

The same will be said of art and the Coronavirus.

Mid-pandemic, digital art is now taking us into another cubic dimension, and introducing collectors to a new experience that artists only dreamt of a few years ago, but can now deliver.

Analog solutions still abound of course, and always will. No one would be foolish enough to argue otherwise, however, after being closed for almost six months, The Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opened at the end of August to small and exuberant crowds, and also to a potential revenue-loss of $150 million. Denizens of the art world are a creative bunch, so it didn’t take long to figure out that if they had to, museums could sell a small quantity of their overabundance of art to stay solvent. Analog art is entrenched in our psyches and won’t go away, especially when you consider that it’s an exclusive platform for the wealthy to buy and sell trading cards that have been very cleverly boosted to stratospheric prices. Fine art pieces can command multimillions more than their intrinsic worth. Contemporary art though, is much different, and relatable to people who actually love the art part, more than the investment. 

Selling select pieces from a museum’s collection is a practical solution, especially considering that many museums and galleries have closed shop – permanently. Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, said that “about one third of the museums in the U.S. were operating at a loss before the pandemic, three-quarters have now closed, and one third will never re-open”.

To stay in the game, the Brooklyn Museum is planning to sell a dozen pieces through Christie’s Auction House with a hope to raise $3.5 million for the upkeep of their remaining collection. The pandemic makes sales like this possible, in a world where it is usually frowned upon because it can put a curator in a compromising position trying to balance salaries with the success of the museum.

Many museums now actively promote digital art.

The Contemporary Art world on your street is also suffering similar chaos and closures, but again, creativity knows no bounds. Some sectors of the contemporary art world are seeing record sales that encompass VR, 3D video, GIFs, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. The digital art world is rolling along nicely for some artists, especially those who were already in the house and have a handle on the technology. If you’re a laggard or a Luddite, don’t worry though because there’s still lots of time to catch up … it’s not as if art looks back – collectors do of course, thankfully, but rarely contemporary artists!  Digital is now a very welcomed and viable option that most artists and galleries refused to even consider a year ago, and it’s primarily because so many galleries will never re-open. Times have very radically changed in a few short months. Last year, galleries were, unfortunately, already struggling with most not sure what to do. The pandemic pushed closures into the abyss, and survivors towards digital strategies. 

Art today is experiencing a real time paradigm shift, that already, is starting to divide old school flat plane constructionists, from digital’s technology-driven contemporary artists.

Traditional painters for example will happily stay in their analog lane and serve a very dedicated buyer, who, unfortunately, statistically has already purchased the bulk of their lifetime collection. When Boomers slip into the great hereafter, so too go the collectors. Traditional two-dimensional collections will either be dropped into the market by disinterested surviving relatives, or languish in closets and attics for possibly decades until way-back collectors discover new value in much the way an old vinyl jazz collection attracts attention. As homes get smaller, wall space shrinks. Every now and then a rare and scarce treasure will escape from a dank, dusty basement. 

Digital art will become the commerce core for a new breed of art lover and collector who wants a multilayered experience that can be viewed any place there is a screen, large or otherwise. Today, you can literally carry a million-dollar art collection around on your phone, view it easily in high resolution on a friend’s large screen TV, and still keep it protected securely in an immutable blockchain network on the distributed web that cannot be hacked.

If you’re not already viewing fine art on your large screen at home or work, what are you waiting for :) another pandemic? Life is short. Enjoy art!

Scarce, original, large format, digital files are the new Warhol retro soup can, and they’re selling for thousands per file and sometimes even millions for shares on the immutable blockchain.

The Holy Grail in the digital art world today is scarcity on a digital continuum. No copies – originals only.

As the physical art world shuts down, even the most extroverted of us must turn inward – and go online wrote Alina Cohen in an article about Jerry Saltz’s new book, How to Be an Artist. Saltz said, “Viruses come, viruses go. Art will be here on the other side. It won’t disappear until all the problems it was invented to address, have been addressed.”

Here are a few places to start you down the digital blockchain rabbit hole.

* Known Origin is also a hip digital art community

* Artory delivers a novel digital blockchain idea for artists and collectors

* My digital art marketing strategy explained … Scarcity Obscura

9/11 hit so hard and fast that art spewed out voluminously in massive melancholic plumes.

Pandemic art inspiration today is different. This muse is stealthy and slower, but considerably more deadly. So far in 2020, in America alone over 210,000 have died of Covid-19 – a world record drenched in morbid irony.

The last world pandemic, 102 years ago, wasn’t as isolating as today’s trauma in 2020.

Today, we have social media – a personal mainline into everyone’s fears and myths, and if that doesn’t scare and inspire you as an artist, you’re soul is probably already dead.

In 1918 – the last pandemic, 500 million people were infected and 35 million died worldwide. It started in the spring, tapered off in the summer, and raged back with a vengeance in the fall taking a heavy toll in just a couple of months – in America, 195,000 died in October alone. Radio was the emergency health network with newspapers delivering details the next day. No internet, but amazingly, they also panicked and rioted over masks just like today, and for exactly the same reasons.

Our 2020 pandemic will leave a scar and provide inspiration for a generation who NOW have a reason to look for the answer to life and push past millennial angst. Metaphors and allegorical archetypes will be spun digitally into art pieces that exude dynamic life, and are no longer static. Jesus will blink and anoint you from an immutable 3D GIF for a steal at 0.100 ether, or, you can blow your roll at SuperRare … one of my favorites, Tide Routine at $10 grand / 25 Either

Professor Elizabeth Lee wrote a book about the links between artistic production, and health and illness and has an interesting perspective on how pandemics affect artists.

If you don’t understand the digital art dynamic, @AlisonDeNisco does a good job of explaining the mechanics behind BLOCKCHAIN ART. There’s even a Covid-19 Museum!

In my locale, universities like @UVIC in Victoria BC are preparing fine art students to be adaptive in an art world turned inside out.

In the face of massive shutdowns of art events and galleries, many artists are feeling an existential threat that causes some to freeze, while others spontaneously combust with new art directions and vision.

At the end of the day, what does the public want from art mid-pandemic? They want fun apparently, and to return to normal. Who doesn’t, but that train left the station four months ago and is a one way ride to somewhere new and exciting. 

Check out these insights to help you personally decide what the public wants from art today.

Oh, and on October 25th, Buy some Digital Art too!
It’s a good investment in your emotional health.

Art & DATA – 2020 Vision

written  by Maurice Cardinal

Today, October 25, is the day we celebrate International Artist Day.

We chose this date back in 2004 because it’s Picasso’s birthday, the artist who brought cubism to our modern world of art and changed the contemporary landscape forever.

So … here’s a toast to Pablo, to change, and also to DATA Digitalism — our topic du jour.

2019 has been a year of mainstream integration of art and data.

2020, will be beyond words in this respect–where art should always be.

And yes, we’re talking about DATA not DADA, although there are esoteric similarities. I’ve been geeking out on data for decades, ever since Napster and P2P kicked open the door, but this, is different. Digital Art Data took off this year, mostly in the underground when artists realized they could now easily protect their work online and market it globally using blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The real game-changer however, is the Distributed Web 3.0 – light years of improvement and a successor to the outdated and spindly HTTP.

We can now affordably and relatively easily do things with data and art we didn’t even dream of a few years ago.

Data changes everything … and how you manage it changes everything else.

There are very cool blockchain art galleries around the world developing technology that makes it easy to register, certify, and display art. A small handful at this point use automated processes that allow experimental artists to slip in safely to check out the new blockchain environment. It’s not what you think, but it does work for artists and galleries alike, although in different ways.

There are two camps, purists who groove solely on digital and what they create on their computers, and in a parallel world, experienced artists with traditional and digital skills who are quickly learning that analog is rapidly moving to a digital arena. It’s a perfect world for photographers, but foreign for most two dimension canvass and paper artists, although they also have a lot to gain.

When film disappeared there was an elite collection of loyal fine art shooters who hung on until companies quit making film – not a lot of film choices anymore. A few of us reluctantly slipped over to digital earlier when we realized our film catalogs were prohibitively expensive to digitize. It was a better economic move to buy a digital camera system. There were a number of fine art film photographers who absolutely refused to make the switch. They hung on for years. A few well known film-only shooters also slipped into retirement.

Well guess what? All those fine art negatives and transparencies are finding new interest with collectors and gaining rapidly in value at unprecedented levels.

The reason, film, for the most part is almost gone, and now at finite equilibrium spiraling to a natural state of scarcity, which is the magic elixir for all collectibles.

When only one exists, and everyone wants it, that’s scarcity at its finest.

Large format 8×10 inch sheet film is one of those “when one only exists” moments because inherently, if you were shooting fine art with a large format camera using film, you weren’t clicking off ten brackets like we do today with digital, and also shooting half a dozen different perspectives. At thirty to fifty dollars a sheet with processing and printing, you took your time and created images ala fine art Zen. Most photographers shooting large format were devoted artists. It would sometimes take me days to set up a single shot. The crispness, depth, and tone of those images screamed to be reproduced billboard-size museum quality. When a grain of sand prints as wide as your thumb, the other elements around it take on an otherworldly feel. I used to sell large archival prints because it’s where the value fell, but today the interest has shifted.

I had no idea I was sitting on resurrection until I put a few old fine art film pieces on blockchain to sell as limited edition posters. No one purchased the twelve dollar posters using ETH, at least not yet, but offers to buy the original film are interesting, and cause to rethink value in photographic elements other than prints of any size. The format now also has value.

Fine art is going digital on blockchain, but it’s not fine art like you know fine art.

It’s more like, a good time to dispense with the “fine” part and find new descriptors.

The term Fine Art is too reminiscent of secretive galleries manipulating prices based on opaque information, blurry relationships, and innuendo. It’s almost the exact opposite of transparency and immutability of blockchain, and instead the new provenance of “fine” art.

Blockchain is for all artists, and when painters figure out what musicians have known for a while, and what photographers are discovering today, it will be interesting to see what happens when more and more canvasses are digitized and offered as limited edition posters. Digital blockchain posters are affordable and good purchases for entry level collectors, while more experienced art buyers will benefit from the added visibility of the original canvasses promoted through limited edition blockchain posters.

Blockchain is a perfect tool to create a perfect storm of scarcity.


Scarcity Obscura Redefines Fine Art

Written by Maurice Cardinal

Technology is as tricky as it is tempting.

What it gives with one hand, it takes with the other.

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” Pablo Picasso

We live in an era of market disruption in all facets of our lives.

Sometimes disruption is a good thing, at other times, not so much depending on your perspective about whether you want to follow, or lead.

Scarcity Obscura is one of those tech moments that causes fine art painters to lie awake at night wondering what to do, but apparently not Bansky.

I developed this new technological contemporary art process because I wanted to expand on the options for artists and collectors. 

Tech has always been a tease, and often an unfaithful lover. Just when you think everything is going along as planned, another technology wakes you up to the reality that life stands still for no one, and that there is always someone, or something better, or at least wildly different and expensive.

The “art” of painting is about as old fashioned as you can get. Little in that realm has changed mechanically for hundreds of years, except the canvasses and chemicals used in the paint. The process is still exactly the same. Stretch a canvas, toss in a few brushes, palette knives and paint, and practice, practice, practice in obscurity until someone notices you, or until you die.

Jazz musicians suffer the same for their art, but the reality is, it no longer has to be that way for either the musician or the painter. It’s time for a new process.

The most common lament from painters is that no one wants to pay fair price for their art. Wow, when did artists start setting their expectations so low? Read on to find out.

On the flip side of the coin, the most common complaint from mainstream art buyers is lack of trust in the contemporary art system. Proving provenance is expensive and incurs substantial funds that could be directed to the artist. Collectors also indicate artists aren’t as innovative or creative as they were pre-internet. It all looks the same now. They question how many canvasses of sunsets, fruit bowls, and flowers the world needs.

Artists argue that unique creativity is running thin and that everything has already been done by tens of thousands who have gone before. Consequently, frustrated painters mistakenly rationalize that they just need to do the same-old thing, except better, and make perfect what is supposed to be imperfectly authentic. It’s a common and fair philosophical argument because it’s kind of a correct statement–at least the first part. A thousand monkeys typing will cobble eventually a sentence disjointed together … or something to that effect.

There is however one area in the fine art world where creativity still knows no bounds.

Digital artists literally create art that dreams are made of, and then some.

Back in the day, when there were considerably fewer fine art painters, no one had this problem. Today however, everyone and their mother considers themselves a painter or a drawer of some sort, and the competition is fierce.

So, how does a traditional reclusive artist stand out from the very noisy crowd?

Simple. Technology! HaHa!  … sorry, that’s probably not very funny if you’re struggling.

It’s not difficult to argue that everything substantially aesthetic in the fine art world of painting has already been covered, and that humans at this stage of our existence have exhausted the gravy train. Other than the perfection of realism, there isn’t much choice except to resort to SHOCK & AWE, which often isn’t creative as much as it is exploitive. Far too much digital art is based on controversy or optical illusion, which quickly becomes boring. Yeah, we get that flashing red and green lines on a screen creates physiological latency in your brain, so does crack–move on. It’s a tech trick, not art.

Painters can either improve their hand skills and go hyper-photorealistic, which is kind of ridiculous today considering the advances in photography and printing – most art likers unfortunately don’t care whether it was painted or shot, and Wal-Mart proves it every day at $49.95. Plus, and maybe more importantly, painters who have invested tens of thousands of hours perfecting their hyperrealism style already have the market cornered. You can’t even wait for them to die to make space for you, because when they do, their estate will flood the market with canvasses that reflect the ultimate scarcity . . . death.

A high resolution photo, skillfully shot and digitally manipulated can be made to look and feel exactly like a great painting, which means that only art collectors with special acuity and appreciation for a painter’s investment in time, and who are willing to pay for it, are standing in the buyer’s lane. Granted, there still are many fine art buyers like this, but they are dwindling and inundated with thousands of painters, many who are cannon-balling off the high board for attention. Two decades ago a painter only had to compete with the other painters in their circuit. Today, the number has exploded exponentially, fractionalizing the fine art market beyond recognition. Local painters now compete directly with painters from all over the world in the name of globalization.

Contemporary fine art buyers today aren’t as interested in technical skills as much as they were in the past, because in developing countries, where artists work for a dollar a day, technoids, with skills like forgers, produce soulless form-paintings like machines. They flood the global market with incredible technical imagery that is stunning on the surface, but totally bereft of soul. We even have elephants and ants competing for art space, and now, also artificial art intelligence – AAI

The other choice, and the one that insightful fine art painters use, is to go deeper into their unconscious and look for creativity in a world that is hidden from casual viewers.

Subtlety, and intrinsic transparency are the new art black.

Art buyers today want to know that there is a story behind the painting, and also that the artist will have longevity and continue to tell their story for a long time, with variations of course. It’s an important element of provenance, just like wine. Provenance separates dedicated artists from the dreamers and drives up value. Provenance also means that artists have to reveal their vulnerabilities, just like lovers. Blockchain verifies authenticity easily and perfectly.

Almost every day an artist will ask me how to get noticed. They never refer to it as competing, which is their first mistake. Too many myopically believe that their vision and skills are so extraordinary that their paintings will jump off the easel onto a gallery or a buyer’s wall. Their dreams are misplaced, and instead of looking for a new way of approaching an old process, they beat their frustration to death doing the same old things over and over. Some frustrated artists even accuse buyers of being stupid, which is mistake number two. Buyers today are in fact incredibly intelligent and demanding because they know what they want, and they don’t want what everyone else has, plus they want it easily certified … except this guy who represents at least half of the earth

Einstein was reputed to have said, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” I couldn’t agree more, but I’m wondering lately, are artists the chicken or the egg–does the business of art actually make some artists crazy, or just crazier?

The trick today isn’t in standing out in a large milling crowd. The secret is to find your niche audience within the chaos. Think of it like Tinder or Bumble, or any dating app. For all you know, your next big buyer is sitting next to you already. It’s up to you to reach out and make the first move. Again, blockchain on a decentralised, distributed web is the perfect vehicle.

Art is almost purely about culture, which means your art has to meet specific expectations. If you don’t understand and appreciate a buyer’s cultural influences, you will have a very hard time enticing them to purchase your art. Most art buyers are not machines that operate solely on profit. Artists need to know their market.

For every atypical painter out there, there is an even more atypical buyer.

Just like online dating; you have to find someone who is perfect for you.

Blockchain technology can do that, and do it perfectly.

Blockchain is disrupting the traditional gallery and art buyer’s model, and creating uncertainty, but at the same time offering a new way to do old things for artists who are willing and who have faith in their vision.

The third mistake artists make is to not believe in their own work, because if you don’t believe in it and invest in your career accordingly, no one else will, ever.

Serious art buyers and collectors are looking for commitment.

As I mentioned earlier, I developed scarcity obscura as a new technological contemporary art promotion process so artists and art buyers would have realistic choices in a world that is rapidly changing. It borrows from an old process that was used back in the day for entirely different reasons.

Scarcity obscura today, or yesterday, is exactly as it sounds. The process is all about creating scarcity by destroying an original work, purposely, by painting another image over it and creating hidden layers.

In earlier times artists painted over their canvasses because they either didn’t like the piece, or they couldn’t afford a new canvas. When one of these old hidden Masters is discovered today the value skyrockets. It’s buried treasure that buyers speculate about wildly. Contemporary artists destroy their art for a variety of reasons.

The old model scarcity obscura still has the same effect today, but for a different reason. The soulful energy of the painting buried underneath is still there, just like it was for the Masters, but today the contemporary version sends a different message. Today, scarcity obscura provides an allegorical glimpse into the unconscious mind of an artist by providing a highly personal vision that a buyer would never normally see. Some artists give it a negative spin, but scarcity obscura is the exact opposite, it’s additive to the experience.

Scarcity obscura provides contemporary art buyers with a sense of spiritual embodiment that helps define niche proclivity. You can call it a soulful or spiritual connection, or just plain ALT, or PUNK if that works better for you. The point is, artists, through technology now have a way to organically share more about themselves and the art they create.

Pre-internet, art collectors who couldn’t afford the original canvas sought out Limited Edition signed prints – basically, signed posters. Scarcity obscura provides the same model, except this time it is digital. The relatively low quality art posters we used to buy, were often very affordable. Today, digital fine art posters are extremely high quality, and still affordable! Thank you coders :)

Technology has disrupted the Limited Edition poster business of yesterday, and replaced it with a model that can now not only be printed in many formats – including hi-resolution, but also be displayed on large screen hi-def monitors and our phones. It’s an incredible new option when you consider that digital art files can also be bought, sold, and traded with little more than a click.

The best part of this for artists and collectors; Scarcity obscura Limited Edition supplemental art pieces, when positioned correctly, can boost the cachet, interest, and value of the original painted canvas not only the first time a certified copy is sold by the artist, but also each time it changes owners. If you do it right, the artist benefits each time it is sold and resold. The other difference is that artists can now manage the process relatively easily for themselves, and not have to pay a third party an unwarranted, inflated fee. When you cut out the middleperson, artists control the message and keep costs for the digital Limited Editions as low as possible. It doesn’t mean you cut out artist reps and galleries, because there is still a very important role for both of these groups. It just means that scarcity obscura provides a shift that returns  autonomy back to the artist. For clarity, some galleries are also already leveraging blockchain technology because they recognize the opportunity, so it’s important for artists and buyers to keep this in mind.

Working together is still an ideal strategy. 

The great thing is that NEW types of electronic blockchain-based galleries are popping up that serve artists and collectors much better than the backroom negotiations of yesteryear. Transparency is the new fine art model that will only improve over time as it matures, just like it did for the music, book, and newspaper industries.   

When developed and managed properly, Limited Edition fine art digital files can effectively deliver promotion that art collectors not only want to receive, but want to have hanging beside the finished canvas because it tells and completes the allegorical story.

Scarcity obscura is a new way for contemporary fine artists to connect with a new audience.

The question now is, are you a serious artist or buyer, or the same old same old?

Illustrations by Maurice Cardinal :: Photos Courtesy of Reinhold Silberman :: CLCKR -

Art & Culture Reporters – The Missing Link

Written by Maurice Cardinal

If art is a vision of the future today, why are so many artists still stuck in the past?

Quality of art slipped quietly out the back door when MP3 and Napster noisily pushed their way to the front of the line. Contemporary visual art got caught in the vortex as professionalism across the entire art industry started to slide. Visual and performance artists claimed technology as the panacea for corporatism, but they were only half right.

MP3 was a mega boost for art and technology and a nod toward the future. In the late nineties the big five record companies took relentless hits from a stream of frustrated studio musicians who were the artistic lifeblood of the music industry. These artists played on almost every single hit album, anonymously, and were the first to recognize that the internet would have a major impact on their art by providing exposure and distribution they never had in the past.

Within a couple of years every garage band in the interplanetary universe started dumping free music into the audio jet stream. While peer-2-peer technology undermined and turned record companies inside out, iTunes recognized a corporate opportunity, and within a decade claimed galactic data victory in the music industry, making it seem like corporations had won again.

File sharing was a boon for artists, and it still is for those who know how to speak data.

For the other ninety-nine percent of artists, data was, and still is, incredibly frustrating.

As it turns out, most of us are the data–it’s how FaceBook works, and it’s where it went wrong for contemporary artists–FaceBook was fined $5 billion for a reason. Artists who still naively and improperly use FaceBook will only get buried in the crowd and lost. FaceBook is not what most people think. There are now options that are much more effective.

Napster was the first marketing disruptor to go mainstream and leverage the power of file sharing. Back then the only types of files that could be shared through internet file-swapping networks were audio files. Today all types of data–BIG DATA can be shared just as easily, and now affordably and securely with zero risk of being ripped-off. Thanks to blockchain and distributed networks running IPFS, anyone can put their art online now and not worry about it being copied or stolen, but that’s just half of the story. It takes way more than technology to effectively market art.

In the nineties, and for the first time, musicians everywhere could connect directly with their audience, and in a few years, through social media, fans would also be able to hook up with singers and musicians– kinda like a real conversation, but different. The converging apex where both sides crossed paths is the strange attractor described in the scientific theory of chaos that redefined forever how artists and audiences communicate and relate to each other.

Well, not all artists. Musicians are the communicators of the art industry, and know how to work cohesively within their own teams and their audiences. Visual artists on the other hand are often social loners, most with underdeveloped public relations and communication skills.

Painters hide, while musoids party – which is code for network!

Musicians know how to engage and talk to art reporters, while most painters still believe the world will find them if given enough time. Musicians don’t wait. Their success is reflective of their gregarious natures. Musoids are also techno-freaks and know how to leverage data and make the most of social media, while most visual artists toil alone in their studios painting, sculpting, and waiting for some type of divine intervention, which very rarely if ever comes.

FaceBook is NOT God, although Zuckerberg would like you to think so.

Musicians have a love-hate relationship with reporters, but mostly, they love them. Most visual artists completely fail to appreciate the significance of an art writer, let alone know how to approach and talk to one. On the surface it looks like artists are narcissistic and arrogant, and some are, but mostly, artists of all ilk are simply afraid of being judged. Theories of why they have this debilitating psychological neurosis are numerous, but it often stems back to a less-than healthy upbringing and self-esteem issues–although sometimes it’s just in your genes. Old school visual artists struggle the most with the digital revolution, and many simply ignore it, while younger artists experiment and discover new worlds and exciting ways to reach audiences. Successful artists embrace promotion, which means talking to art reporters

Art writers …are also artists in their own right, and they play a critical role. Many are also artists in genres outside of writing. As trading and streaming free music became more prevalent, it was at about the same time that we started to lose the comfort-food filter of intellectual thought and gumshoe sleuthing by art writers. Over the course of several years the anemic opinions of our fake friends on fake-news FaceBook became seemingly more important than writers like Roberta Smith, co-chief art critic at the NY times who has written about art for more than forty-five years.

That guy Bob I used to know in high school, who now works at Wal-Mart and whom I never really liked that much, is now giving his FB followers advice about what type of art and music he thinks we should listen to and buy.

Something is missing. Turns out it’s the art writer, as in, professional opinion and context.

It is not just that I value an experienced and studied opinion, it is also that most of us don’t have the time, inclination, or tools to filter the oceans of big data that stream unchecked through the universe and into our consciousness. Sure, tech-talk AI is smart and fills the small gaps, and someday it might even drive my car. I also love the smart contract concept, and blockchain is great too–a bone fide technological advancement right up there with IPFS and distributed networks, but artificial intelligence is still light years away from being humanly intuitive, which is what is required in the last mile to turn art complexity into order. Machines are incapable of making real connections because they still can’t read and interpret nuance – the 1% factor.

Art writers deliver that relevance and clarity, not AI plugged into a machine.

Tech geeks who write this idealistic gobbledygook are often loners, similar in some ways to painters and many writers who sequester themselves in their work. An inordinate number have few real friends, if any, and also quite often a skewed concept of social reality – which isn’t necessarily bad when you factor in creativity. The challenge is that all this data and SocMed tech stuff is great in theory, but it has to be balanced with humanity. Most nerds hide in a dream world, which ironically is where most artists reside, so be careful about what and whom you believe.

You don’t have to unconditionally believe art writers, or coders, but it would be smart to at least consider the opinion of someone who thinks about and researches art considerably more than you.

Another unfortunate irony is that the residual effects of trusting your uninformed FB friends has eroded the coffers at real news companies. All those hard-working intellectual human filters are losing their jobs, thousands of them, thanks mostly to social media.

 Disruption is a bitch.

Each time an art writer is fired, art audiences suffer because standards soften.

Over the last twenty years or so standards have fallen away considerably.

Technology can do that, especially when it’s in its infancy and only half-baked – for example, today, technology forces automatic phone updates on us that flip our lives upside down, yet, we put up with it and have forgotten how to demand quality and value for our money. Also, back in the day, MP3 had terrible audio fidelity, but we sacrificed quality over convenience and the prospect of FREE MUSIC! The thirty-year transition back to quality has taken us full circle, this time though, the end game is considerably different.

There was a time when standards for the masses were high across the board. High quality vinyl records were available and affordable for everyone, with only moderate fidelity improvements for a very small number of elite audiophiles. Western society was mostly middle class, and as the divide between the rich and poor increased, standards of quality fell away. Writers who wrote about art mattered less and less, because for the most part, consumers cared less and less about quality.

There is also an undertone of irony to this diametrical transition because visual art is now more important than it has ever been in all of history. It is now the domain of the masses and used as a tool of comfort – like a worn pair of slippers. Centuries ago, during the era of the masters like da Vinci and Rembrandt, art was primarily a sport for white rich men. Many claim it still is, although Asian markets are rapidly changing the landscape through sheer volume alone. 1.43 billion Chinese can’t be wrong, can they? 

Art is now much more than something to hang on the wall to match the sofa.

Art is now therapy! Not for the viewer though–like it kinda used to be. It’s therapy for the millions of paint-by-numbers artists who collectively spend tens of millions on group art classes that help them cope with life. Art is a great way for frustrated women to drink red wine, spill paint, yak, and purge emotions. Men have sports bars, women have art classes.

Art’s place in the world has radically changed, especially over the last decade.

We’re not satisfied to just look at contemporary art anymore.

We want to be art and be the ball!

The billion dollar question is, where does that leave professional art writers?

If amateurs are now creating art, of which ninety-nine point nine percent of it looks amateur, plus, artists and artists’ friends are recommending this art to their friends on FB, or not, why do we even need art writers and critics? We have each other, and who better to give us advice than someone who knows even less about art than we know? “I bought it because I like it” is a great meme and mantra, but the critical factor is, and as the songs goes, “When the night meets the morning star, will you still love me tomorrow?”

Real art needs substance, not one night stand flashes of lust that slink out in the morning.

CNN Business reported that in January 2019, 1,000 news media people lost their jobs.

Many would have been art reporters and writers, because as we are all painfully aware, when budgets need to be cut, art funding is the first to get the axe! FB and Instagram are the new messiahs because now anyone and their mother can trickle inch-deep doodles onto an online public forum in the name of art, and ask their friends to hock it for them.

Also, artist tools, which at one time were hard to find and expensive, are now ubiquitous. You can buy “Made in China” art supplies at Wal-Mart for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Box stores also sell huge art prints, framed, for $49.45. Unfortunately, competition like this for the eyes of the mass art market is a race to the bottom–unless you like street urchins and cats with big eyes.

Here’s some good news … just like in the music and film industries, a new fine art ecosystem has grown that caters exclusively to high-end art lovers and collectors. This elite fractionalized community is relatively easy to find, if you look, but that’s the problem. Not enough art buyers know it exists so they still plod aimlessly like lemmings through small galleries looking for emerging treasures. You can’t blame them though because most artists also don’t even know that the fractional art market exists.

Part of the reason for the disconnect is that experienced collectors valued art writers who were usually found in mainstream publications. Now however, art writers are often tucked away in obscure online corners that are harder to locate, but when you do, you’ll find the same intellect and passion as is present in high visibility art reporting publications like the NY Times.

The contemporary fine art market is still there, but it is now broken up into thousands of ad hoc sub genres waiting for the perfect buyer who has the same niche proclivity as the artist. It’s like online dating; your art might not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me. If an artist presents it properly, the value and what a collector will pay can be surprising and sometimes hit six figures for no obvious or rational reasons.

The task of deciding what is “artful” and at least worthy of our awareness is the purview of art writers, not ill-informed FB friends. Plus, we need art writers now more than ever if only because of the glut of art-carnage sunsets, pretty flowers, and fluffy cats being dumped into the art ecosystem like white noise. The only exception I’ll make is CryptoKitties, because they at least recognize technology for what it is, and the challenges of real world transition.

To make things even more confusing, the definitions of art are expanding at an exponential rate mostly because the traditional art centres of NYC and London are now also lost in the noise of thousands of towns where issues of culture, politics, gender, and race are just as important as in big cities.

Art is fractionalized. Thankfully though, each segment is attractive to someone.

Older artists still resist getting political, but in this era it’s one of the few ways to stand out. Fear of a political stance and opinion is outdated. Today, collectors want to know, beyond loneliness, what inspires an artist and drives them to create. The backstory defines the cachet and value of the work. Contemporary fine art today needs to be a mix of relevant, allegorical, and political muse in order to rise above the noise and confusion of legions of amateurs who do little more than bounce up and down yelling, look at me, look at me!

Museums are also starting to get in the game by displaying regional fine art that has timely political significance. Events like Black Lives Matter and many others inspire artwork that needs to be viewed today and collectively on a global platform across a network of large and small cities. The sensitivity of a society’s important cultural issues cannot be trusted to what only your FaceBook friends think. FB might be a place to start, but the conversation deserves a more intellectual and thought provoking commentary that only a professional art writer can deliver.  Experienced writers capture the heart of an issue and move considerably deeper than superficial feelings. Real writers not only eloquently express real emotions, they also offer reasons that add substantial depth of insight.

Writers who write in any real depth about art look at a wide cross section of artists before they carve even a single word. They boil the broth down to a rich, full bodied and complex reduction. When a writer looks at and researches that many artists, the differences become readily apparent. Artists who deliver more than aesthetic appeal deserve and need to be identified and explored. If you paint flowers, and for example you don’t somehow connect the loss of bees to your work, it’s just another painting of a flower. Who really cares enough anymore to invest in it when there are tens of millions of paintings of flowers stockpiled in artists’ closets. Wal-Mart also sells cheap copies for $12.95.

If contemporary fine art is still primarily the provenance of rich white men, which unfortunately it is, then art writing follows suite, until it doesn’t. Thankfully, blanket elitism is eroding as we evolve to a more regional and fractured market of finding our art soulmate. Sure, it’s a bit elitist too, but it doesn’t discriminate.

If the red pill works for you, take it, stfu, and be happy!

You can now find great art writers in small towns living next door to great artists.

In a fractured art market, interests are more varied along cultural and political lines, which brings diversity to a market that for hundreds of years has been myopic and too often based on religious voodoo and political oppression.

Fortunately, there still exists a funnel of truly great and experienced art writers–among them, Jerry Saltz, Jillian Steinhauer, Peter Schjeldahl, Carolina Miranda, Holland Cutter, Christopher Knight, and Ben Davis. Today however, many more are surfacing in smaller communities around the world and displacing the omnipotent power that big art centers like NYC, Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo once boasted.

Whether you are an art buyer, collector, or an artist, you need to become familiar with these names and their community of colleagues around the globe, and engage them in conversation, or at the very least, simply listen to and respect what they share.

It’s also important to follow other members of the art industry who might not necessarily be full time art writers,  but who have writing influence, like Alex Browne, Sarah Amormino, Camille Georgeson-Usher, MOMUS, Kate Taylor, Norman Wilner, Sally McKay, Daniella Sanader, and Douglas Coupland. These writers don’t fit the old school mold, but they are still highly informed and influential in their respective fields and interests, and it is in these niche areas where investible contemporary fine art is growing and thriving.

All the rest is Wal-Mart-Art.


Illustrations by Maurice Cardinal :: Photos Courtesy of Gerd Altmann :: Hermann Traub :: Sarah Richter :: Victoria Borodinova -

Crypto Kiss by Klimt

Have you ever dreamt of owning
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt?

How about the Mona Lisa,
or maybe Pollock’s Blue Poles?

by Maurice Cardinal

It’s now possible to invest in and own fractionalized masterpieces, shares essentially, of a growing number of fine art works from masters like Monet, Warhol, Picasso, Man Ray, and more. Plus, on a more accessible level, pieces from accomplished contemporary artists like David Bailey, Marilyn Hurst, and also emerging newcomers like abstract artist, Doriz.

Not all of these artists or their galleries currently sell shares of their work, or even trade their art on exchanges. Early adopters however have figured out how to leverage this growing phenomenon, and more artists are getting onboard every day. They recognize that value in art can be protected and grown when you convert it to an art token.

Owning art, is an art of “balance” between buying what you like, and investing in something that has potential to increase in value. A number of elements factor into this rapidly evolving investment/enjoyment equation, including the ubiquitous long tail, which simply means that sometimes less is more.

Buy art because you like it

Thanks to cryptoblock (cryptocurrencies and blockchain), art lovers can now “keep it” and “eat it” too. Collectors can consume and enjoy all types of incredible art, plus keep the monetarily-valuable non-fungible tokenized portion, which can be traded at any time–for a profit no less if done right, and of course with a little luck!

High end established fine art houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s/Artory, as well as newer cryptoblock entities like Maecenas, service the upper tier multimillion dollar art world.

The real revolutionaries however, i.e., blockchain art exchanges and art games, are developing new and affordable ways for all levels of art lover to share, trade, enjoy, and collect art tokens that have real world monetary value – like CryptoKitties, the leader in the cryptoblock art genre. CryptoKitties, a wildly successful art gaming platform is also a powerful realtime educational tool to help the world get up to speed re digital art.

Art exchanges operate on a slightly different level and offer a variety of commercial and fine art in their portfolios beyond crypto cats.  CryptoKitties is also developing parameters for a NFT – non fungible token license that will help define acceptable uses and restrictions regarding ownership, payment, security, scarcity, and a long list of other attributes specific to the new and growing world of digital decentralised cryptoblock art.

Cryptoblock is the long-awaited mainline digital hit that injects contemporary artists straight into the consciousness of their insatiable heat-seeking-niche audiences.

Cryptoblock is also the pill needed to help contemporary galleries become viable again.

New galeries especially, like Art Couture in White Rock are perfect candidates for combining physical canvases with cryptoblock art because it gives galleries an opportunity to reach out beyond their local market and generate additional revenue. It’s not a primary generator, at least not yet, but it does introduce buyers to the physical location and to their roster of artists.

Everyone benefits – especially the relationship between creator and viewer.

Art collectors with niche interests can now easily plumb the unconscious minds of artists, and vice versa. Today’s reality is that artists no longer need to promote to millions. Cryptoblock makes it possible for artists to be pinpoint-selective and connect with a buyer who, just like a new lover, feels the jolt of attraction immediately and follows their instinct into a forever-affair.

Cryptoblock art is lustfully-simple, impulsive, and insanely salacious.

Cryptoblock art exchanges, like the UK’s Blockchain Art Exchange for example, facilitate the electrochemical connection that seduces an art lover at first blush, and then provides a spontaneous way to act upon the compulsion. The decentralized blockchain art process is fully transparent, with guesswork almost entirely eliminated. A buyer no longer has to be concerned that they might be purchasing a fraudulent copy, or paying an exorbitant hidden commission to a middleman.

Authenticity and provenance of each artwork is meticulously traced, instantaneously reported, and fully guaranteed in blockchain art exchanges.

Cryptoblock art tokens are a fast, easy and safe way to expose yourself to incredible art, plus, when you do it right, the value of the art grows organically.

Cryptoblock and art exchanges and games open up a brand new world for art lovers who could have never previously afforded to do what is now possible today on such a modest budget. As an added bonus, digital art is often a wonderful surprise and much more soulful and affordable than most art lovers think – blue chip art at blue jean prices.

Digital art is also much more versatile. You can hang it on your wall, view it on your phone, and most incredibly, display your fine art collection on a Hi-DEF large screen Art Monitor!

Millennials btw, especially young Asians with newfound money, are leading the charge in this forum, and they don’t just buy Asian – THEY BUY EVERYTHING ON A GLOBAL LEVEL.

It’s the latest rage –– all the kids are doing it!

Buying art has never been so satisfying.


Highpoint Fine Art Studio

written by: Maurice Cardinal

©2018 Chris MacClure

Highpoint Studio is the culmination of almost a century of painting history shared between contemporary artists:
Chris MacClure, Marilyn Hurst, and Brent Heighton.

Highpoint, a working studio, opened recently, and shares space with the Urban Décor Centre at 192nd and 24th in South Surrey – just outside of White Rock.

The Highpoint Studio painting-partners gave personal tours to a steady stream of guests at the launch of their impressive and spacious studio.

Each artist displayed some of their finest pieces in a variety of styles.

Highpoint, tucked into an industrial complex not far from the High Point Equestrian Centre, is about equidistant between White Rock and Langley.

Brent Heighton, Marilyn Hurst, Daryl Walker (White Rock Mayor), Chris MacClure

White Rock’s new mayor, Daryl Walker dropped in to say hello.

It’s always interesting to see politicians show up at art functions because one always hopes they will take the art industry seriously. Ideally, support it beyond more than a grade school level by funding an art and culture presence in their community that benefits real working artists and not just students and hobbyists.

Everyone agrees that it’s important to provide art incentive and creative space for youth, and of course for all the retired or semi-retired women who get together in their tea, pot, and gin klatches once a month to paint by numbers. Practiced art today is mostly a kids and ladies game, and for the latter, more like group therapy than art, which would have been good for artists with issues like Van Gogh, but by that standard, it’s not really art unless someone cuts off a body part. 

Commitment to artistic vision or die trying is the missing element in hobby art, but today in the Everyone is a Star era, only the discerning notice the gap.

©2018 Marilyn Hurst

Things are a bit different in our modern times. We now know one doesn’t have to be mentally unbalanced to have great art radiate from one’s unconscious spirit, which means that today you can count on artists to be prolific and dependable. We’re professionals and have discipline, and more importantly, because we do it every day, we’ve developed a sense of observation and vision that is considerably more refined than most of society.

If you’re ever in conversation with an artist and it feels like they’re looking through you. They are. They’re just too polite to say. Old myths die hard. Smart artists have known for decades exactly where great art comes from and how it is produced. It’s not magic, but it is amazing.

Art is a real industry that drives real revenue, but you would never know it by the lack of support it receives from civic leaders who all too often reduce art and culture budgets indiscriminately. Art contributes favorably to the mental health and stability of our community, but it is a message seldom heard. Artists contribute much more to society than they are given credit. Art, organically and holistically, delivers tangible health benefits that are significant and measurable.

©2018 Brent Heighton

In almost all cities, new baseball and soccer fields get built, but a “dedicated” art centre that looks, smells, and functions like a real art centre and not an afterthought tacked on to the community sports complex rarely gets even lip service. Art space needs to be more than the empty-building temporary pop-up spaces that cost next to nothing – and of course deliver nothing. Art needs a permanent home, and a solid foundation just like a bank or a grocer. We’re not gypsies and nomads, at least not by choice, although many of us are bohemian and free spirited. I’ve had many conversations with investors and bankers over the years about funding for the arts, and the common stickler for this group is that artists don’t keep regular 9-5 hours. True, we don’t – artists work twice that at least, plus weekends, and we produce a heart-healthy mindful meditative experience that causes people to smile, and think, which in turn leads to happier lives and more productive communities.

All those condos that are roaring up in White Rock, each one should be mandated to provide a portion of street level storefront space for the exclusive display of fine art for international and local artists – mandatory, just like taxes. The same goes for malls and outdoor public spaces.

It seems that White Rock’s new mayor Daryl Walker has a true spiritual feel for art.

©2018 Chris MacClure

Considering that art is in large part an intellectual endeavor, it’ll be interesting to see if our newly elected politicians can deliver funding to support serious art and culture in sunny White Rock, a Mecca for artists as well as an untapped pool of wealthy art lovers and collectors . The overarching goal should be to make our community culture more inviting for the sophisticated and passionate art patrons who already live in White Rock, South Surrey, Ocean Park and surrounding areas. Many live in lavish mega-million dollar estates and have art budgets larger than most annual salaries. An audience of this resonance needs to be seduced with more than dollar store conveniences. The city needs to help offer greater opportunities to attract high caliber merchants and traders. Tribute bands, pop-up galleries, and ice cream shops have entertainment value and feed the common appetite, but it’s empty calories.

©2018 Brent Heighton

A new high end art gallery, Art Couture, opened several months ago in White Rock’s West Beach dining area. This exclusive showcase gallery hangs original pieces by international artists who also sell their work at auction houses like Sotheby’s, for prices that reach almost two million dollars. Art Couture curator and gallery owner Jenny Xu has the right idea and an amazing space, but without industry support from the city her fate, like all of ours, teeters in the same realm as the neighboring businesses that gave up or were drained over the last few years. Jenny is smart and has substantial business experience so she’ll blossom, but most business owners don’t have her depth. 

Art Couture also has international reach for both artists and buyers and could easily evolve to become a destination gallery with a global presence – something the natural beauty of White Rock richly deserves and would carry well.

©2018 Marilyn Hurst

With working artist studios like Highpoint, and exclusive galleries like the White Rock Art Gallery midtown–one of the west coast’s most prestigious galleries, and now Art Couture at West Beach, the sunny seaside town of White Rock has a much better chance to grow into an art enclave like Carmel by-the-sea Ca, but first we all need a Clint Eastwood attitude of Make My Day.

White Rock Mayor Daryl Walker and Chris MacClure

So how ’bout it Mayor Daryl, are you packin’ heat?

Our Art & Culture industry needs your economic support so we can make White Rock great again – oops sorry, that slogan is already taken, but you know what we mean … the White Rock art industry needs money and not just a smile, handshake, and a nod. All types of artists here trust and are counting on your leadership, and so are art lovers, to give creativity and expression a place in White Rock to be reverently  appreciated. Most of the facilities are already here or are being built, they just need direction and to be professionally managed against a global backdrop.