Starry Starry Car! Literally the first thing you see walking into Van Gogh Alive.
Photo by Louise Mathieson, 16 January 2022.

Starry starry night
Paint that Lexus blue and gray
Welcome to Exhibit A
(supported by our sponsors, don’t you know)

All the fancy frills
Tea towels splashed with daffodils
Lavish merch helps pay the bills
So purchase your memento ere you go

And now I understand
What they’re trying to say to me
“Accept the price of artistry;
You can’t create for free.”
– If Vincent’d listened to that cautious crowd,
We’d have less beauty now.

The irony is not lost on me that Vincent Van Gogh sold only a handful of paintings in his short, tortuous life. But that didn’t stop him creating. Viewing the Van Gogh Alive exhibition this past weekend showed me again just how passionate, how dedicated to bringing beauty into the world he was. I marvelled at his dedication, his vision; I grieved at the mental turmoil that cut his life short. And I gazed in delight at his work, which was displayed, curated and reimagined with tremendous innovation and skill.

Of course, the money has to come from somewhere for something like this. Or indeed, for any artistic exhibition. And it would be hypocritical to sneer at sponsorship today when the custom of patronage has facilitated the making and sharing of art world wide for many centuries.

But is there a line? And if there is, who decides what it is, how do we know when it’s crossed, and what accountability is there for those transgressing?

All questions I don’t think I have answers for, yet perhaps still worth asking.

What do you think?

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