A Manifesto on Art in Oshkosh

NOTE: From August 3-25, 2002 the Oshkosh Artspace Collective is sponsoring a major exhibit, "The Oshkosh 100." The exhibit is on display at the historic Wagner Opera House building on 500 N. Main St. and features the works of 100 Oshkosh artists. One of the key event organizers, local artist Jim Evans, wrote "A Manifesto on Art in Oshkosh" as part of the exhibit program. The Manifesto is reproduced below:

A Manifesto on Art in Oshkosh

by Jim Evans

On numerous occasions, when people were talking about this show, they would often remark that "this event will be the biggest art event in the history of Oshkosh." Although I appreciated their excitement, this exhibition should not even be close to a pinnacle event of Oshkosh's cultural life.

Oshkosh alone is not at fault here. We all must counter the opinion that we live in a cultural wasteland.

How then did we come to this point? Why is it that Oshkosh offers such scant support for visual arts? What does this exhibition really mean for Oshkosh? To start with I believe that our city leaders need to change their beliefs that the arts are enjoyed only by "that university crowd," "those young bohemians" and "a few other cultural elitists." It is also important to note that the arts in Oshkosh are not just The Symphony, The Grand and The Paine. All of which are fine institutions and deserving of our support but we are all related and should be supported with the same kind of enthusiasm. Organizations such as Oshkosh Arts, which was formed to "support" the arts need to make themselves known to the artists!

Oshkosh alone is not at fault here. We all must counter the opinion that we live in a cultural wasteland. How many local artists have chosen to live elsewhere because they thought that Oshkosh was just bars and bowling alleys? Why is it that Appleton has gotten the reputation of being the artistic center of the valley? How many of us would gladly show our work at the new Appleton Art Center instead of just about any place in Oshkosh? Why is it that so many people eagerly accepted the invitation to exhibit in this show but would never consider entering ArtSpace Collective's Juried Exhibition?

We the artists need to change our attitudes that we may have towards our own city. We all need to become more invovled in our local art scene by taking part in the monthly art walks. We should support our local galleries by exhibiting our work. We need to stop working in isolation and get to know each other. What we need is to become a community! Will this exhibition be the start of building a diverse Arts Community? The answer remains to be seen.

Jim Evans

Oshkosh Resident

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