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Gabriel Combs

Posts: 1,497
Registered: Jun 16, 2002
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 8, 2004 11:27 PM

Re: Say Hello
Posted: Jan 15, 2003 8:57 PM

Whats up, art community. My name is Gabriel Combs. I'm an artist living in Minneapolis. My interests are drawing, painting, design, grafitti, the way the city is layered and put together, and just about everything at times. I don't usually do things like this, but being that my entire life is dedicated to art, at the age of 31 I feel a stronger need to integrate into the art community. If anyone is interested in similar subject matter, or opening my eyes to something new, I am into having some sort of dialogue. Much thanks to the people running this thing. The whole site is lots of fun!

Here is my first post for what its worth...

good night

Lauren DeSteno

Posts: 1,520
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Oct 19, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 2:21 AM

> > The second part of this is related to developing
> > participation in the forums. There were lengthy
> > discussions of why there was not more
> participation
> > in the forums. Much of that blame was placed on me
> > for not generating more activity. And I will
> accept
> > some of it. I've spoken with dozens of people and
> a
> > few barriers to participation came up repeatedly.
> >
> > 1. There were too many threads to sort through to
> > find what you want, i.e. the organization of the
> > forums was to difficult for people. They had to
> dig
> > too much.
> > 2. The value proposition of time invested versus
> the
> > value of the experience was too low. People wanted
> > more focused conversations and conversations on
> > topics more relevant to their lives.
> > 3. People were scared to post. The primary reasons
> > for this were comfort level with technology and
> the
> > vulnerability of participating in an open public
> > discussion. The engaging conversations have been
> > about ideas that are deeply important to people.
> We
> > need to strike a balance of maintaining a high
> > standard of discourse while making the barriers
> for
> > participating low.
> As to why the forums have not caught on as a venue
> for discussion and why the participation remains so
> low--I think I can add something. The reasons you
> list for this are valid. There are too many subjects;
> it takes too much time to find subjects; and the
> whole thing is imposing and sprawling. Still, if the
> forums were worthwhile or rewarding in any way,
> people would take time to sift and sort through it
> all.
> I would say that the PRIMARY reason people continue
> to stay away or remain ambivalent to the forums has
> to do with some inherent qualities of the cast of
> characters who have decided to appoint themselves
> forum regulars. I gave up posting here because I
> found that most people who remain involved are not
> looking for discussion or exchange about local art
> (ie, what I was looking for)--but rather for
> validation from like-minded people. University of
> Chicago professor Cass Sunstein has called this
> phenomenon an "echo chamber." People, he says,
> increasingly go to internet chat sites to seek out
> others like them, with whom they can feel a sense of
> community they may be otherwise lacking in their
> offsite lives. So, rather than becoming a great
> democratic tool of information exchange, the
> Internet--at least in its chat groups--it seems has
> become more of a polarizing tool.
> We can see this happening in several ways here on
> mnartists. Whenever I have posted ideas counter to
> the prevailing winds of this forum, these are the
> reactions: personal insults, verbal attacks of an
> insulting nature, ridicule (one guy posted a porn
> site with my name on it), even vaguely worded threats
> (one guy recently called me an egotist--even though
> he does not know me at all--and wrote, "I can become
> a thorn in his side."). I've also been badgered for
> career advice from posters, had someone ask for a
> personalized "critique" of her work, been asked
> repeatedly for my personal email, and had to try to
> sort out all those tedious self-aggrandizing
> performance-critic (semiliterate semischizo) postings
> by one individual.
> While providing a forum for those in the art
> community who don't have any other outlet is a noble
> goal, it will necessarily limit the number of people
> who want to be involved. I only hope that others who
> stay away at least haven't had to deal with the
> treatment I have.

Thank you for your opinion, Michael.

Colin, I think you are doing a wonderful job with your efforts here at mnartists. I posted more in the mod. forum for you to read.


jaime longoria

Posts: 1,161
Registered: Oct 7, 2002
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 9:37 AM

> > Hi Everyone,
> >
> > This forum has not quite caught on. I am thinking
> > about archiving it, for now. Any objections?
> >
> > Colin
> Yes I object. You need to give people out there time
> to see the opportunity to have a "voice".
> Please communicate to them and do direct them to me
> via my email; . I have much
> interesting things to say to these people off line
> about the value to thier careers of being a member of
> the "forum" community.
> jaime

Hi Lauren; try thinking about this.

hugs and kisses

coyote 256

Colin Rusch

Posts: 1,435
Registered: Oct 16, 2002
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 3:50 PM


Thanks for your post and your feedback. Raising the issue of the echo chamber is very useful. I appreciate your insight.

I am terribly sorry you feel so victimized by participating in the forums. Our hope for them is to develop into a community of practice for independent artists, arts professionals, and audiences. Part of the growing pains in the project come from developing and negotiating relationships. Plenty of insults have flown around in all directions here, especially when discussion gets heavy. Also, apologies have been made and many understandings reached. In the last couple of months, I have not witnessed much conflict while seeing some good conversations develop. My mom once told me that a marriage is built doubt upon doubt. The wisdom in her advice is understanding that any conflict is an opportunity for building a stronger relationship. I don't think any of us are delusional enough to think that building community is a big lovefest. Much of that work is forging strong, lasting, symbiotic working relationships with other people. Sometimes relationships are so full of conflict that they need to end. But, coming to that conclusion fairly requires us to recognize our limitations and take responsibility for our actions. Your post here reads to me as a recount of your experience, a critique of the community's development, and an unfair jab at other participants. I hope you continue to participate in the discussions and develop a nourishing, fruitful place in this community. You have a lot to offer the community and the other people here have a lot to offer you, especially as the forums grow and evolve.



Lauren DeSteno

Posts: 1,520
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Oct 19, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 4:28 PM

> My mom once
> told me that a marriage is built doubt upon doubt.
> The wisdom in her advice is understanding that any
> conflict is an opportunity for building a stronger
> relationship.

That's a beautiful thought. Thank you, Colin. In just a few words it is able to summarize labor, toil, building, depth, pride, and closeness created through the mechanism of division. Thank you.


Michael Fallon

Posts: 201
Registered: Jul 3, 2003
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 9:40 PM


Sam Spiczka

Posts: 1,671
From: Sartell, MN
Registered: Jul 20, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 10:06 PM

Michael, have you been following the What Constitutes a Minnesota Artist? thread? I think it is a good example of a diverse group disagreeing with each other in a non-destructive manner (though a bit off-topic). Does that particular thread meet your approval? If not, why?

And that is a very good article.


Ray Rolfe

Posts: 3,263
From: Northeast Minneapolis
Registered: Sep 5, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 11:11 PM

Hello, "one guy" here. I wanted to invite anyone who has advirsity with me to address me directly. I've got the most posts on this thing, so maybe it's my fault some people are uncomfortable. (People are uncomfortable!??) But with the vauge inferances and whatnot, I can't know. I would rather be given the chance to defend myself rather then have shit talking going on in the back rooms and non-specific quality inferances here in the forums. IF thats whats going on.
Addressing Micheal,
>attacks of an insulting nature, ridicule (one guy posted a porn site with my name on it)

I hope you are over that man. I did not post the porn site! I meerly found a link in google while researching your name for articals you wrote BECAUSE I LIKE YOUR WRITING! Geez. I mean, Colin induced me to write that embarasing public apoligy. You never informed me dirrectly, only thru proxy. I would have keept it to email but your address is hidden. So i'm just saying please NAME NAMES. If you have any issues with me or anything I type, please let me know dirrectly insted of implying this or that about my asumed phycological motivations for posting anything here.
I just think maybe you are being judged by the measure with which you judge others. No?
Not that I disaggree with you, but it's a parodox to encourage disent (as a quality of leaders) and then run or be driven away be disaggreement. Do you want eccos or don't you?? Ahh look, we screwed up the start here thread. Now newbies might belive what you say about closed culture and all. From my view, all inclusive forums = Open culture, Exclusive symposiums = closed culture.
*sigh* gee wiz, can't belive I've been sucked into some irrelavent opionated commentary.
So whats up? Why does anyone communicate with anyone?

Ray Rolfe

Posts: 3,263
From: Northeast Minneapolis
Registered: Sep 5, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 11:23 PM

Also, is the Columbia board lesson in organizational culture a reference to specific "closed culture" institutions you know of, or were you making a case for likness to this all inclusive "chat room" thats been around for less the 2 years and gains new voices every day?? If the later, that would be a pot calling a ketel black wouldn't it?

~Confused lonly artist guy looking for on-line community because i'm so socialy lacking in "real life"

Lauren DeSteno

Posts: 1,520
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Oct 19, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 9, 2004 11:29 PM

Hey there, Ray and Gabe, I just want to let you guys know that you are both valuable members of the forum here. Don't take Michael's comments too much to heart.


Ray Rolfe

Posts: 3,263
From: Northeast Minneapolis
Registered: Sep 5, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 10, 2004 12:04 AM

I'll just stamp "For Promotional Purposses Only" on my heart sleaves then.

Gabriel Combs

Posts: 1,497
Registered: Jun 16, 2002
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 10, 2004 2:07 AM

> With all due respect, Colin, your response sounds
> just a little bit lip-servicey to the exaulted
> instutitional ideal that pays your weekly check, and
> it is slightly patronizing. You asked for feedback as
> to why the forums are not popular with the community
> they're intended to reach. That's what I
> offered--sorry if they were put in
> less-than-happyslappy terms. For what it's worth, I
> don't feel victimized by coming to these forums. I
> feel pissed off at how they've been usurped by a
> noisy few with a blatant agenda or a well-meaning few
> who are looking for a mutual admiration society.
> People have repeatedly been chased away from this
> forum, and you have sat by and done nothing to help
> fix the echo-chamber culture of it.
> In my opinion, it's excruciating to read 90 percent
> of what's posted here, and it's depressing to know
> that the forums could be a much better utilized
> resource. It's also crazy how quickly we witness
> again the forces mounting whenever anyone (ie me)
> expresses dissent from the herd. ("You're right! Good
> point! That was really well stated! Gosh, that was
> funny! You tell him!") Obviously, nobody in this vast
> circle jerk read the article I linked; it's important
> that all here read it (see the text reproduced
> below). Organizations need dissent, not constant
> backpatting kneejerk approbation. ("Wow. Really great
> art! I love your stuff! You are so funny!")
> Otherwise, the closed organization (echo chamber)
> develops misguided ideas that have no bearing on
> reality. Take MN Mediocre, for example; or the MAEP
> election nonsense--both notions fell flat almost
> immediately when they reached the wider community.
> Now, the forum seems to be encouraging a notion that
> there's some sort of art-world cadre controlling the
> resources to the disadvantage of the few truly worthy
> artists (who happen to be posters on this site--no
> wonder nobody's getting anywhere), and there's one
> poster claiming that these forums are a gateway to
> great riches and international fame if only everyone
> else knew how to work it. It'd be hilarious if it
> weren't so dangerous. All these notions are
> absolutely picture-perfect examples of what the
> military calls "incestuous amplification" and what
> psychologists call "group polarization." (See article
> below for more info.) Because the group is so hostile
> to outside comment and criticism, the ideas grow
> unchecked within the closed chamber, until the
> notions meet their Columbia disaster.
> In the local arts community, I've heard again and
> again that artists want to reach a greater audience.
> Yet at the same time they spend most of their time
> with other artists (probably out of fear, mostly),
> mutually admiring each other's work. The work does
> not develop. The audience does not grow. And when
> someone comes along to point out the absurdity of the
> situation, people get angry and lash out (trust me, I
> received some major lashings in my day as a result of
> criticism I've written).The same seems to be
> happening in these forums. I've tried, in the real
> world through my organizing efforts, to change the
> relationship dynamic between artists and
> critics--arguing that critics perform a great
> checking-and-balancing function in the arts. It's
> bore some fruit, but more could be done. Probably
> that's why I'm still bothering with checking into the
> forums. I care enough to try to keep trying to change
> closed off minds.
> Still, I can't say it's really been worth it
> personally. I wish someone would point out what
> self-interest I have in venturing to post these
> opinions, so I can agree that it all has to do with
> my own ego--and I can slink away in the night once
> and for all. But I can't help but suspect I make
> these stabs in the dark because I happen to care
> deeply about the local arts.
> From what I know of you Colin, I respect the work
> you've done on the site. And I do respect the work of
> your bosses, to be sure. But this paragraph from the
> text below sums up the kind of organizational culture
> I'd like to see within these forums, rather than the
> ego-stroking cheerleading and self-serving bluster
> that's driving people in the arts community away:
> a distinctive kind of culture, one that
> discourages deference to leaders, sees dissent as an
> obligation, promotes independent analysis and insists
> on a wide range of voices. The broadest lesson is
> simple. Well-functioning organizations discourage
> conformity and encourage dissent -- partly to protect
> the rights of dissenters but mostly to promote
> interests of their own.

> The Power of Dissent;
> All organizations need it. Are you listening, NASA?
> Cass R. Sunstein
> Los Angeles Times
> September 17, 2003
> Successful organizations, in government and
> elsewhere, need dissenting opinions. If citizens are
> to be secure, leaders must encourage disagreement and
> skepticism. This is the largest lesson of the recent
> report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board
> -- a stunning document whose implications go far
> beyond the space program.
> What accounted for the loss of the space shuttle
> Columbia and its seven-member crew? The board
> attributes the accident to NASA's unfortunate
> culture, one that discourages dissent. In the board's
> words, NASA lacks "checks and balances." It pressures
> people to follow a "party line." At NASA, "it is
> difficult for minority and dissenting opinions to
> percolate up through the agency's hierarchy" -- even
> though, the board says, effective safety programs
> require the encouragement of minority opinions and
> bad news.
> The board's report is only the latest in a growing
> body of research from many domains. Failed
> corporations, such as Enron, WorldCom and Tyco, often
> have a NASA-like culture, characterized by
> unrealistic optimism and pressures toward conformity.
> Companies do better with contentious boards of
> directors that treat dissent as a duty.
> Similarly, studies have shown that private investment
> clubs tend to lose a lot of money if their members
> know each other well, like each other, eat dinner
> together and discourage open debate (whereas
> financial returns are highest in clubs whose members
> have limited social contact and welcome criticism and
> disagreement).
> My research shows that on a three-judge panel, a
> Republican-appointed judge is often far more likely
> to vote conservatively when sitting with two other
> Republican appointees than when sitting with at least
> one Democratic appointee. The same is true for
> Democratic judges, whose liberal tendencies are
> dramatically amplified when they sit on
> all-Democratic panels.
> Without knowing it, the Columbia investigators were
> identifying a pervasive social problem, one that
> unites these examples and that leads to many failures
> in the public and private sectors. In military
> circles, this process is called "incestuous
> amplification." Among psychologists, it is known as
> "group polarization."
> In a nutshell: Like-minded people, talking only with
> one another, usually end up believing a more extreme
> version of what they thought before they started to
> talk.
> One reason for this is that when people's views are
> confirmed by others, they tend to become more
> confident and more extreme. Another reason is that
> most people are loath to come down on the wrong side
> of an issue on which there seems to be consensus.
> American researchers David Myers and G.D. Bishop show
> that white high school students who were unlikely to
> show racial prejudice became still less likely after
> discussions with one another -- and that white
> students who tended to show racial prejudice are more
> likely to do so after talking together.
> We can safely predict that people who dislike
> President Bush, or fear global warming, or approve of
> the United Nations will adopt a more extreme version
> of their views if they speak mostly or only with one
> another.
> The Columbia board also identified the biggest
> problem created by group polarization: missing
> information. When leaders and groups cherish
> consensus, conformist pressures prevent group members
> from informing others of their private concerns and
> doubts. Blunders and even catastrophes are possible
> results. The Columbia disaster is merely one
> illustration. Is it too much to speculate that our
> current difficulties in Iraq are another?
> What can be done to reduce this problem? The Columbia
> Accident Investigation Board emphasized the need for
> NASA to develop a distinctive kind of culture, one
> that discourages deference to leaders, sees dissent
> as an obligation, promotes independent analysis and
> insists on a wide range of voices. The broadest
> lesson is simple. Well-functioning organizations
> discourage conformity and encourage dissent -- partly
> to protect the rights of dissenters but mostly to
> promote interests of their own.
> Copyright 2003 The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles
> Times

Well, today and tonight I was painting the wall at the new Gallery Shmallery along with Charlie and Eric. I got to meet the owner, John for the first time. Great guy. I instantly recognized him from first ave for years. Very open minded person and well-connected. Had a lot of good things to say about the older artists and professionals. He is very interested in everyone coming to the opening. Including Michael Fallon, Doug Padilla, and some other people I don't remember right now, but I recognized some names. After the conversation with him and the things it brought to mind, I feel there is the everything set up for the art community here to really change for the better and grow with the participation of the full range of artists and professionals. I do personally feel the time is right. As far as I know, none of the people posting here are making a lot of money off the arts. So I think a current financial reasoning behind anything said or done is just not there. Of course, we all have ideas to make more money on art than that other job we don't like so much. We all have egos, that is for sure, at least in my opinion. Artists are often somewhat unfortunately sensitive. Michael Fallon would have to be included in that as having been a more out in the open artist in the past, having been rejected for what I imagine were much desired shows. Michael, I think your a sensitive artist. Maybe that sounds silly, but its what I am beleiving. There is a lot of similarities in a lot of the people that have strong differences on here. Maybe at least some sort of relative paralells. I feel I am understanding more of this. The negative side of things here is'nt enough to deter me from continuing to try to understand the dynamics of the thing.

All parties involved cordially invite all parties involved here and anyone they can please bring with them to the:

Gallery Shmallery
1720 Madison St NE
third floor

friday, feb. 13th
opening reception is 7-10pm with music, food and drink. 10 on is a party for anyone who wants to hang out for awhile.

To get together. Older people, younger people to mostly just have a good time. Its in a warehouse by the railroad tracks. Raw like a lot of the old spaces I have heard about.

Michael Fallon

Posts: 201
Registered: Jul 3, 2003
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 10, 2004 9:28 AM


Sam Spiczka

Posts: 1,671
From: Sartell, MN
Registered: Jul 20, 2001
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 10, 2004 9:46 AM

Michael, how often do you talk to or "chat" with other artists/business people in your daily work? I assume you go to an office and meet people along the way or interview others for an article you're working on? Maybe you have working lunches as well? You're a member of the broader community passing along info and gleaning what you can.

When I go to work, I don't see/talk to anybody (other than my dad at the shop). I don't live in the Cites where there is a bustling art communtiy to interact with. Public radio is my link with the outside world. I live/work in a rural area. These forums are my chance to be in touch with a broader community. I would venture a guess that if you add up the time you spend talking with others in your day, it would be on par with the time I spend here. I wouldn't say one way's better than another, just that we all have to make due.

I appreciate these forums because they've allowed me to meet you and everyone else that is here. And there is a great variety to find what you want. There are serious topics (like the featured discussions) where we try to keep things more on task and serious. And there are frivolous topics (What Are You Doing Today) where we just chat around the water cooler.


Ann Klefstad

Posts: 95
Registered: Nov 29, 2002
Re: Start Here
Posted: Feb 10, 2004 12:38 PM

Hm, this has all been happening and I haven't seen it because i haven't been following these forums. Interesting . . .

I do think Michael makes excellent points. I know many artists in Minnesota from nearly 50 years of living here, off and on, and none of the people I know personally post to these forums. Any of them. The forums are primarily occupied by about a dozen people. Out of the thousands with work on this site. Out of the many more thousands who are working artists in the state.

Why? Maybe lots of reasons, but maybe because, aside from a few posts, artists are not writing the kinds of things that arise from an engaged, serious-as-cholera, you-only-got-one-life-make-it count, self-questioning, curious art practice on this site. Would that they would.

I'm not saying that the dozen or so people who do use the forums shouldn't. Of course if the forums and their conversations are helping you in your practice, you should certainly use them. But what Michael is writing, and the article he posted, is accurate, in my view, and we at mnartists can certainly use some critique along these lines.

It's not easy to formulate well-reasoned and well-researched critique. This stuff is valuable--it's the one thing you can't cook up for yourself--and it's essential to aesthetic health.

Thanks, Michael, for your wake-up call.


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