The notion that ‘art can save the world’ creeped into the cultural vocabulary about 1960’s and was quite an establoshed idea by the mid-1970’s . During the height of the Reagan years artists who were subversive were those who cried out against the culture machine; the 1980s in Los Angeles fostered this notion that LA had the “outsider of everything” (culture, market, media, identity) identity. All these things that make Los Angeles what it is today simply did not exist or were quietly going on outside the glare and hype. So when you consider that only a few museums considered this type of art “valid” you would have to include the MOCA as one of the first museums to reach out to these artists and to art that was true to the culture here.The Arm and Hammer museum was one of the first to exhibit artist Robbie Canal, a political poster artist who had a street crew post art all over the city. His images of the Reagan years were both humorous and subversive; he had no gallery that would represent him. Instead the gallery was the streets and his audience the populace. He was a pioneer that took the political cartoon off the page and into our everyday lives.
Perhaps I am naive, but the business model for outsider art was always fueled by the outsiders themselves, not the audiences. Now I see something different;commercialization and commoditization of ideas that are designed to reach a specific niche audience. This is both dangerous and inhuman. We are trying to predict what audience will accept this art, rather than pursuing a singular voice. With the recent political climate around the world the notion of outsider art, is even more important; expressing a culture identity, finding ways to express political ideas should be on the minds and in the hearts of a new generation of outsiders, artists, writers and culture mavens. Now, more than ever we need art to protest, to enlighten, to outreach and explain the world as it is today. We live in unique and dangerous times when things we thought would never change, might slip away. So, if art can save the world we need to start now. I for one, will not wait for someone else to speak for me; to all the artists and creatives out there, either should you.