Let me know if this sounds negative

I was there, where were you?

I just returned from the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City where Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives unveiled his plans for multiple large scale exhibitions using vacant lots in Atlantic City over the next several years. Starting in a few months. Interesting. Innovative. Slightly upsetting.

Let me say upfront, Lance is a very likable guy with lots of enthusiasm and energy. He has created these exhibitions all over the world and evidently he has been quite successful. Are they art? Not really sure how to answer that but they do draw attention. Lance admits he usually takes a few years to prepare an exhibition, for the first one in Atlantic City he was only given a few months. I sincerely wish him the best, Atlantic City could certainly use a home run right now. For that matter so could the Phillies, but that’s another story.

Why then am I slightly upset? Is it because millions will be spent on exhibitions that are meant to be temporary? Not really. Is it because no local or regional artists were asked to participate? Somewhat, but I can understand on such a tight deadline the need for Mr.Fung to work with people he already knows. Is it that volunteers are expected to do much of the work while Lance and his team reap the praise and monetary rewards? Once again, surprisingly no. Is it because Lance stated he will be looking for emerging artists for his future Atlantic City projects, not professionals? I don’t understand how that will help develop the arts in this area but once again, I”m not sure art is the real goal here.

Whether or not this project is a huge success or, heaven forbid, a failure, it’s another golden opportunity missed to create an art community and a real interest in what happens in AC. There has been no effort to get the local and regional artists excited about this project. NO input from them at all. While the arts district sits on the back burner, while artists and gallery owners who once desperately wanted to be part of something special in Atlantic City now let out a collective yawn, the ACA and CRDA move forward with projects that fail to win the support of the people who will still be living here after their respective directors move on to other towns and greener pastures. Both are very nice and well-intentioned people but they have no idea who the real artists are in our area and more importantly, they don’t know whom to ask.

Surf baseball failed for the same reason. Nice park, fun night out, but nobody really cared if the team won or lost. Same with hockey. The Pier. Dante Hall.

As ArtC has found out numerous times, there are plenty of talented artists and people who love and support the arts in south Jersey, who willingly help out when asked. They want and need to be involved. It’s a shame nobody seems to know it would help all of us if they were asked.

Thanks for listening.

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