Think about it: who do you know that buys original art? Very few people do. Very few people even have any contact with original art. Why? Because the art world has turned up its nose at Everyman. Artists no longer make any attempt to communicate with the "sheeple"; their work consists largely of in-jokes that they tell each other. As long as they maintain the politically correct stance in their art, such that their NEA grants keep coming, they need not make any attempt to communicate anything outside of their inner circle.
Now, this is not true of all artists in America today. But it is true of nearly all of the ones who get press attention and major museum showings. My wife and I have made it a point, the past few years, to seek out original art for our home. We go to fairs and shows and such and seek artists who are not in the NEA loop, who make their living by selling to the public. And we've found some refreshing and surprising works. There's a lot of different viewpoints there too. But one thing you won't find is the snarky/petulant attitude of the grant artists. Why do the NEA-grant-supported artists do the things they do? Because they can. Because it's their way of asserting their superior position over the audience. It's their way of letting us know that they get paid for whatever the hell they want to do, and that they have a claim on our tax money, and that there's not a damn thing we can do about it. It's simply them thumbing their noses at us.
I will have to admit, I've not ever bought much in the way of original art. I know I bought a small watercolor or two from one of those street vendors when I went to Florence on a Humanities trip my junior year of high school. Also bought a small watercolor when I was in Seward, Alaska in June 2004. I've seen other original art - larger pieces - from time to time that I do like, but it's never been something I could afford. I have one original piece that was a gift, and I will dig it out of storage when I get a chance and share it with you. Until then, I thought I would share another of the prints I have bought for myself.
I was living in Arkansas, but I was down in Austin visiting with my family. For some reason, we were out at the mall and we'd gone into Deck the Halls. On the back wall, there was a huge print framed in a fancy gilt frame. It was stunning: a big, black horse; I just loved it. I wasn't in a position to buy anything like that then, but I did ask about it. It was called Lepa Zena, painted by Marta Gottfried. I eventually did buy the print, but it's still rolled up waiting to be framed. It's a large piece, and it is larger than all of the other prints I've had custom framed and it's not going to be cheap to have it done "right".
Funny how all the large prints I have have horses in them.... And generally speaking, I likely would not be struck the same way - positively, that is - by the art created the NEA-type artists of whom Cousin Dave speaks.